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Byron Shire
October 17, 2021

New GM

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Over the months that new GM Mark Arnold was acting GM he gave a clear indication that his heart was in the right place.

During public access if you ask a question the correct process is that the answer to the question, if taken on notice, is published in the next agenda. In the past some general managers have not liked that.

The problem for them, in my opinion, was that if they fudged the reply, then at the next meeting I’d get five minutes to explain why the reply was lacking.

So they would defy the code of meeting practice and simply hand over individual replies to the questioner; the notion that a public question warranted a public reply eluded him entirely.

But when Mark Arnold became acting GM last year, he undertook to publish my missed reply in the next agenda. Some months later he then published all the accumulated individual replies in the next agenda. During these events our mayor kept silent.

Mark doesn’t exactly have a reputation as an alpha male, so I just hope that after years of suffering second-fiddlehood he now comes into his own.

He’ll need to because there are seniorish staff who are content with the mushroom culture that manipulates elected councillors via the control of information. So if Mark insisted, for example, that staff provide informative answers rather than evasive waffles, he’d likely find himself in Coventry.

To add to his problems there is the reality that staff expect the GM to defend them; indeed if the first principle of bureaucracy is ‘cover your arse’, the second principle is ‘cover your mates’ arses’. A GM who fails to cover for his staff, no matter how incompetent or dishonest they may be, is in an unenviable situation.

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  1. “During public access if the speaker asked a question of the councillors the correct process, from my recollection, is that that question was taken on notice, the answer then compiled by the general manager was published in the next agenda. In the past when I was a councillor some general managers have expressed displeasure at that procedure.”


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