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“SHAME” – pay rise on for councillors despite halving of meetings, and push for less public scrutiny

May 10, 2022


Hawkesbury councillors are set to vote to increase our rates next month, they’ve already cut council meetings by 50%, and this evening will likely put their hands up for a pay rise, plus superannuation, while some push for less public scrutiny by scrapping a councillor report card.


There’s no doubt, two items on tonight’s Council Business Paper are set to combine in what you might call ‘bad optics’ for councillors.


Liberal Mayor Patrick Conolly and two Labor colleagues will seek to turn back a key accountability measure. It is likely they will succeed – they have the numbers.


Councillors will also vote tonight on whether to accept a 2.5% pay rise and, for the first time, superannuation too.


If accepted, the Mayor’s annual fee – it’s a part-time position – will increase to $78,443, and may have an additional 10.5% Super added.


Councillors would each pocket annual fees of $25,310, potentially plus Super.


If the fee rises go ahead, some $366,000 in total will be paid this coming year in fees to councillors, the deputy Mayor, and Mayor.


The move for less public scrutiny of councillors – the scrapping of a report card – will be made by Cllr Conolly and the two Labor councillors Barry Calvert and Amanda Kotlash, by rescinding a successful motion passed back two months ago, brought by independent councillor Nathan Zamprogno.


That motion moved to give an annual report card on councillor attendance at meetings, for example, bringing Hawkesbury Council into line with many other councils.


It will be interesting to see what Cllr Conolly and his colleagues have to say in support of the recission motion, especially given other councils – a nearby one is Hills Shire – have run councillor accountability reports for many years.


Cllr Zamprogno – who used to be with the Liberals until they controversially booted him off their ticket late last year – put a social media post up this morning about the intended move to rescind that motion, and he placed a label at the head of his post in red capitals, simply saying SHAME.


“Barely two months ago I persuaded my Council colleagues to back a motion that would present an annual report card on councillor attendance at meetings, briefings, committees and workshops, as well as better disclosure on councillor expenses,” explained Cllr Zamprogno on his social media post this morning.


“It isn’t a perfect measure of diligence, but given some councillors in the past were known to take the pay and yet turn up to as little as possible, I felt this kind of accountability was just The Right Thing To Do.”


“I was disappointed when several councillors professed to be offended at the mere idea they could be held accountable,” says Cllr Zamprogno.


Cllr Zamprogno’s SHAME labelled version of tonight’s recission motion which outlines his previously successful motion on a councillor report card


“Barely weeks later they voted to halve the number of meetings Council would hold.


[Cllr Conolly used his casting vote at an earlier meeting – that gives him 2 votes – to push through a 50% cut in full council meetings, making it one a month instead of two.]


“Now they’re trying to walk back the whole idea and abolish this reporting on attendance and expenses,” Cllr Zamprogno says.


“I think this is cynical and fails the ‘pub test’. The current national debate clearly shows there is support for accountability through a federal integrity commission.”


This is an interesting point because the Morrison government has failed to set up a Federal integrity commission which it promised at the 2019 election – a Federal ICAC, if you like.


“I strongly encourage you to make your views known to councillors and to pay attention to who votes which way on this one,” says Cllr Zamprogno.


He will be getting the support of independent councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett who commented on Cllr Zamprogno’s post this morning.


“Already we have half the number of meetings we used to have, a questionable committee system, and now calls for reduced accountability measures,” Cllr Lyons-Buckett said this morning.


“Also on the agenda tonight is an item around councillor remuneration, payment of expenses etc. – my guess is an increase in allowances will be supported by the same people seeking to rescind this motion delivering accountability.


“More money for less accountability – shameful!”


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