News: ​Statement from the Official Manager

Posted: Thursday, 20 June 2024

The Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Chansey Paech MLA, has today dismissed the former members of the Barkly Regional Council and a general election for a new Council will be held on 2 November 2024.

Since the Barkly Regional Council was placed under official management on October 17, 2023 and I was appointed as Official Manager to hold the powers of the elected members while an independent investigation was conducted, much has been achieved to stabilise the council's governance and operations. Our objective was to enhance the confidence of staff and funding bodies, but most importantly the broader Barkly community, that the BRC could effectively and professionally deliver services to our region.

Throughout Ruth Morley's investigation I have been impressed by the openness of management and staff of the council and their willingness work to improve the council's service delivery and compliance practices. While it will take some time to fully respond to the recommendations in the Minister's report, considerable effort has been made already in respect of many issues, such as:

  • Improving the Council's responsiveness and accountability to its local authorities; 
  • Improving the operation of council meetings, including the recording of meetings and elevating the Code of Conduct and declarations of conflict of interest to the commencement of meetings;
  •  Finalising outstanding grant reporting and acquittals;
  •  Creating greater transparency in reports to council and local authority meetings; 
  •  Conducting regular meetings of the Audit and Risk Management Committee; and,
  •  Resolving many outstanding HR and legal matters.

We will next week sign off on the BRC Regional Plan for 2024-25 which includes significant input from local authorities on their operational priorities but importantly includes a review of the strategic direction of council with a priority for the development of long-term infrastructure plans to improve asset management.

Over the next few months up to the election of the new council, work will continue with the new CEO Chris Kelly commencing on 1 July and Jeff MacLeod taking over as Official Manager on that date. In response to the Minister' s recommendations, further work will be undertaken in collaboration with the Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet, Local Government Unit, on other specific issues raised in the investigation with particular focus on preparations for the induction and training of newly elected members. The affairs of the Council will continue to be managed by the Official Manager until the declaration of election results. 

In passing, I would like to thank the Directors and staff of the BRC for their support and assistance during the suspension of the council and wish them well for the future. I would also like to compliment Elliot McAdam, Noel Hayes and the other councillors who persisted in raising their concerns with the NT Government which lead to the investigation and the resolution of these important issues. It is essential that local government has the confidence of its community and that it effectively delivers for its constituents.

Peter Holt, Official Manager

Barkly Regional Council