Pool ban: Councillors have ‘no power to direct or control staff’

p2343-Eli-MelkyBy ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Local athlete Kevin Coyle has made a serious allegation that the town council has denied him natural justice in the process which resulted in his being barred from the town pool.

 

Natural justice means the right to a fair hearing which, according to Wikipedia, requires “that individuals should not be penalized by decisions affecting their rights or legitimate expectations unless they have been given prior notice of the case, a fair opportunity to answer it, and the opportunity to present their own case”.

 

In particular, Mr Coyle claims he was not shown nor had read to him information given in writing by several people to Town Council CEO Rex Mooney, who broadly ratified the decision of the pool manager.

 

The Alice Springs News Online asked Councillor Eli Melky (above, right) to comment. He is a successful sportsman himself and runs a weekly radio show about sport.

 

Cr Melky says he has made it his task to become familiar with the Local Government Act.

 

He said he is making no comment on the appropriateness or otherwise of Mr Mooney’s decision, but said Mr Coyle put himself at a disadvantage by “bypassing the elected members” – the councillors.

 

On the other hand, given that Mr Coyle was training for an international event now just days away, there is little that the elected members could have done.

 

Cr Melky pointed to Section 35(2) of the Act which states “a member of the council has no power to direct or control staff, or to interfere with the management of staff”.

 

He says to overturn Mr Mooney’s decision the elected members would have had to follow this process:-

 

• Introduce the matter at a monthly meeting of council committees.

 

• A report from the CEO would be called for in which all facts are contained. This could take several weeks.

 

• It would be dealt with “in confidential”.

 

• The Corporate and Community Services Committee, chaired by Cr Jade Kudrenko, would formulate a resolution, to be decided by majority vote.

 

• That recommendation would go to the next full council meeting for ratification, again by majority vote, which could overturn or modify Mr Mooney’s decision.

 

Cr Melky, asked whether it would be difficult to run a corner deli with such a cumbersome process, said it would.

 

“Elected members are more of a board that runs a corporation and we leave the day to day operational to be managed by the officers lead by the CEO in whom I have full confidence.”

 

 

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