The Local Government Act requires that if a council intends to advertise its CEO position then that must be done 6 months prior to the termination of the current CEO’s contract. Newton’s contract expires in early April 2014. As far as we know, council has not placed another miniscule advertisement in The Age, nor have they made any public announcement on their website. We can only conclude, since the 6 month deadline has passed, that once again this group of councillors have decided to renew Newton’s contract without advertising his position. What we don’t know is whether they have handed Newton another 2, 3, or the maximum 5 year contract.

That will make it contract after contract that has never been advertised; contract after contract where we, the salary paying public, have no idea of Key Performance Indicators, no idea of the voting figures, and no idea of how Newton measures up against any standards. All we ever get is the party line that he is doing a good job so why look elsewhere. The simple answer to this is: how do you know that someone else might not do a better job if you don’t even bother to look and test the waters? In our view, no position anywhere should be for life. More importantly, best practice dictates that there is a ‘time limit’ for CEO’s in any major organisation. Newton has been there since 199/2000. During this time his rule has been mired with controversy after controversy; legal threats; and let’s not forget the sacking of council. We know of no other council that has had to endure 3 formal Municipal Inspector Investigations, and heaven knows, how many ombudsman official and ‘unofficial’ investigations. Coincidence? Perhaps, but possibly also a reflection on the one constant throughout this entire time – Newton.

More importantly from residents’ points of view, under his stewardship, every vestige of real transparency and accountability has been eroded and reduced to nothing – secrecy and a culture of ‘we are right’ over-rides every facet of good governance. Oh, we acknowledge the puerile argument that officers do not vote and that it is councillors who make resolutions. However, what pressures are brought to bear? What tainted information is provided upon which to base such decisions? And why on why are certain councillors continually voting en bloc for the vast majority of Newton’s anti community recommendations?

Several years ago, 586 residents signed a petition requesting that councillors advertise the CEO position in order simply to ‘test the waters’ and see who else is available. We remind readers that Esakoff, Hyams and Lipshutz voted against the acceptance of such a petition – a first, we believe in Glen Eira – and hence emblematic of the undemocratic culture that now rules Glen Eira Council.