Sydney council in disarray over no-show councillors

Cr Smith questioned why there were multiple attempts to hold extraordinary meetings regarding Mr McKee’s appointment “when the general manager had his properly conducted annual performance review in July 2021”.

The future of Mr McKee has been up in the air in the past month, with Cr Spencer saying key performance indicators were being revised and important general issues with council staff – including the general manager – had to be addressed.

“I wasn’t happy with the way that the customer service staff … were treating residents and small businesses,” he said.

“If they are not attending because they want to defend the general manager, they have got their prerogative wrong.”

Cr Smith said there was no mutual decision by the absent councillors not to attend.


“That’s not the case at all,” he said.

Cr Anderson said she always abided by the Local Government Act, “which requires all councillors to make independent decisions”.

“I’m sure that some want to allege this as disruptive but the same allegations have never been made against any other councillors who have lodged apologies over the last four years,” she said.

Performance reviews for Mr McKee have been a contentious issue at the council for years, where the casting vote afforded to the incumbent mayor has often been used to settle disputes between two factions of councillors.

In a 2019 council meeting, a proposed amendment to “provide greater transparency to ratepayers” by publishing the rationale for the general manager’s total pay package increase was lost after Cr Anderson exercised her casting vote.

Cr Anderson also used her casting vote to award Mr McKee a 3.5 per cent pay increase at this meeting, after a failed amendment suggested a 2.5 per cent increase.

A similar event occurred in this year’s performance review, whereby consideration was given to an increase to the general manager’s pay at the completion of the 2022 annual review after increases were waived during the past two financial years. The faction of absent councillors all voted in favour of this motion, which was passed through a casting vote.

“We had no say whatsoever,” Cr Spencer said. “The situation now is exactly the same as the last four years now that I’m mayor. I think the other side is not giving us the opportunity to do our job.”

The NSW Office of Local Government said they are “aware of the situation” and closely monitoring Ku-ring-gai Council.

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