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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

GM’s delegation powers questioned

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Byron Shire Council general manager Ken Gainger. Photo supplied

A councillor decision at the September 21, 2017 meeting that updated the general manager’s (GM) delegated powers has been questioned by longtime council critic Fast Buck$ aka John Anderson.

He says the general manager (GM) now has power over any elected councillor, or at the very least the same powers since the delegations were adopted recently.

Staff described changes in the September report as  ‘minor changes to the GM’s delegations’, which they claim were ‘in line with recent amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 [LGA]’

Mr Buck$ questioned whether such a change was ‘minor’ given the previous GM’s 2016 delegation policy only confers ‘power to exercise any function of the council which is excluded from the council’s power of delegation pursuant to s377’ of the LGA. 

The newly adopted delegations in September list a long schedule of conditions and limitations over three pages and adheres to GM’s powers as defined in the LGA (s377).

Subject to the exclusions, the new policy says the GM has delegation of ‘ALL the powers and functions of the council.’

Butler St appeal

Mr Buck$ says, ‘The GM definitely did not at the time have the delegated authority to even defend the Butler Street appeal, let alone spend $450k on it.’

‘Nor did he have the delegated authority to engage big-city consultants and spend $350k on the Butler Street bypass DA etc.’

The Echo asked outgoing GM Ken Gainger, ‘How is this a minor change to delegations? And – there appears no reference to the recent amendments to the LG Act 1993 within the September staff report that supports this decision. What are they?’

GM replies

Mr Gainger replied that as the report’s author and legal services co-ordinator Ralph James was away, he couldn’t ‘give a definitive response’.

Yet Mr Gainger did say, ‘My delegations, which were recently updated by Council, reflect the same delegated authority that I had previously, plus additional authority to approve certain tenders up to $250,000 in value.’

‘This additional authority reflects changes to the local government legislation authorising this.

‘Previously the GM could only approve tenders under $150,000 in value.

‘With respect to Buck$ – he is misreading the delegation and has been provided with legal advice to this effect.

‘Accordingly, his suggestion that I did not have the delegated authority to defend the bypass appeal is plainly wrong.’

The GM continued, ‘Staff have suggested to him that if he doesn’t accept the advice that he has been given, then he should contact the Office of Local Government and take it up with them.’

See Fast Buck$’s letter


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2 COMMENTS

  1. So is there an interference into the institution of Democracy. This would displease Abraham Lincoln. Councillors are elected by ballot at an election by the ratepayers of Byron Shire according to the democratic process. The General Manager is not so elected, but is employed by councillors to oversee the management of council and to direct the economics of the council for the people of Byron Shire. It is the Councillors who have power over the General Manager so that the economics of the shire is on course to prosperity for all concerned.

    • I doubt Abraham Lincoln has any interest in the function of Byron Shire Council so it is hard to understand how he would be displeased . I think Mr Lincoln , if he could , would be far more displeased with the goings on in the White House .

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