Media Frenzy on a budget So-wing the seeds of discontent

Melbourne City Council has come under attack over its budget and division within the Council Chamber have become more apparent. The City of Melbourne is faced with a blow out in its financial position following John So wild unchecked spending spree. Now the roost has come home and John So must cut expenditure to pay for the party.

Melbourne City Council commissioned a now confidential $300,000 report by efficiency experts Ernst and Young.

Exact details of the report have been kept secret and away from ratepayers prying eyes. It is understood that the report has recommend major cuts in staff and expenditure, expected to generate up to 10 million dollars in savings, by cutting the fat.

The Council bureaucracy under John so has gotten fat and its now time for a crash diet and exercise to trim the fat.

The Council’s governance department in particular has come under scrutiny with the report identifying that some staff were employed, but were not really sure as to what their job entailed. The City Council had gone through a fast pace staffing growth spurt with senior executives redesigning their jobs to suit their life-style as opposed to the needs of the organization.

How the media preceived the So budget.

Herald Sun 24 May 2007

Mayor sharpens axe at Town HallMary Bolling
Herald Sun May 24, 2007 12:00am

LORD Mayor John So is swinging an axe over his staff, admitting a Melbourne City Council budget black hole will result in cuts.

The admission could put Cr So under investigation, with his comments potentially breaking a confidentiality agreement.

Cr So was on the back foot yesterday, after council’s big-spending budget included $4.2 million in undisclosed spending cuts, to keep the budget out of the red.

Quizzed about the cuts, the Lord Mayor was asked if Town Hall staff would be sacked.

“Yes, but there are places where staff can be relocated elsewhere,” he replied, and later qualified his statement. “Yes, we will have some staff redundancies, of course.”

The budget included the $4.2 million hole after a $300,000 efficiency review recommended ways to cut council fat.

The review was shown to councillors three weeks ago after they signed a deed of confidentiality promising not to reveal the contents.

But Cr So confirmed speculation that the review recommended staff cuts, potentially breaking the confidentiality agreement.

Last night, fellow councillor Peter Clarke said he understood the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer were already being investigated over the comments.

“To make those comments were completely inappropriate,” Cr Clarke said.

“Council has to take action — there cannot be one law for all the councillors and another for the Lord Mayor.”

Council has already asked Victorian Local Government Minister Richard Wynne to investigate one alleged breach of the deed, after a report revealed contents of the review.

Any councillor found to have breached a confidentiality deed could be sacked or fined.

Yesterday, the Australian Services Union slammed Cr So for his comments, and branch secretary Brian Parkinson called for honesty.

“Rather than clarify the situation, John So has chosen to add to the stress and pressure on MCC staff by talking of redundancies in the media without keeping his workforce informed,” Mr Parkinson said.

“Everyone thinks their job is on the line.”

In this week’s budget, council actually allowed for funds to increase staff by 66, taking the total figure to 1076.

The details of the efficiency report and any planned sackings won’t be released publicly until next Wednesday.

Former mayor Kevin Chamberlin said the situation showed Cr So was unfit for his job and called on the State Government to sack councillors.

“John So is all about just getting re-elected, and he doesn’t care what the cost is,” he said.

Yesterday, Cr So said he was regularly congratulated on his work as Lord Mayor. Launching a talkfest about the future of Melbourne, he flagged interest in running for mayor again in council elections this year.

Rare revolt on budget as So confirms job cuts ahead
The Age May 24, 2007

Other Links:
Cash woes send council running to the meters
As you spend, So shall you reap?
Budget blow-out a ‘turn on’ for media man So
Council stamps feet over post office rent

A LACK of transparency and a “frivolous” plan to light the Tan running track around the Royal Botanic Gardens were the “last straw” for Melbourne City Council’s finance chairman Brian Shanahan.

This week, in an extraordinary vote of no-confidence in Lord Mayor John So, Cr Shanahan became the first finance chair at the city council for at least 20 years to vote against his council’s budget.

Cr Shanahan yesterday spoke out against Cr So’s plans to “ignore” a $4.2 million deficit in the council’s budget. This figure has been calculated by consultants Ernst & Young in a cost-cutting review of council operations.

Its report has been deemed confidential by chief executive David Pitchford and has not been released to the public. However, its recommendations will be relied on to find $4.2 million in savings to balance the council’s 2007-08 budget.

Cost-cutting methods could include sacking staff, asset sales or abandoning council projects.

The budget, released on Tuesday night, does not indicate where the necessary spending cuts will be made.

Mr Shanahan said his decision not to back the budget was not “made lightly”.

“It probably hasn’t happened before that a finance chair has voted this way, against their own council’s budget,” said Cr Shanahan, an ALP member who until recently supported the Lord Mayor in most council votes.

“But the public simply does not have enough information for us to set this budget in the way it should happen,” he said.

Cr Shanahan said that a stubborn insistence by Cr So and his team that a plan to light the Tan running track must proceed was the final straw.

“If we spend $1.6 million lighting that track, and not on saving the city’s trees, people will be able to run at night and have a view of dead trees,” he said.

Other significant items in the budget, revealed on Tuesday, include extending the operating times of city parking meters until 7.30pm on weekdays and Saturdays to raise extra money, dumping plans for a $7 million child-care centre at Docklands and increasing child-care fees by 10 per cent.

Cr Shanahan was to appear alongside the Lord Mayor on Tuesday afternoon to sell the annual budget but he withdrew mid-morning.

Cr So came under renewed pressure yesterday after saying there would be sackings at the council.

He was reluctant to answer questions on the topic but said on 3AW that “of course” there would be redundancies.

Fellow councillors jumped on the admission, calling on Local Government Minister Dick Wynne to investigate whether Cr So had revealed confidential information from the Ernst & Young report.

All nine councillors are already under investigation over the leaking of details from the report to The Age earlier this month.

Unions also snapped to attention after Cr So’s comment, demanding that the Lord Mayor reveal possible job losses.

“How many job losses is he proposing and where they will come from?” Australian Services Union secretary Brian Parkinson asked.

Rumours were circulating among staff that up to 400 jobs would go, Mr Parkinson said. “John So has let these rumours and unsubstantiated claims run rife for too long,” he said.

Asked whether he would run for lord mayor at November’s council election, Cr So said: “I’m running” but quickly changed this to say he was “considering” running.

Media Frenzy on a budget So-wing the seeds of discontent

Melbourne City Council has come under attack over its budget and division within the Council Chamber have become more apparent. The City of Melbourne is faced with a blow out in its financial position following John So wild unchecked spending spree. Now the roost has come home and John So must cut expenditure to pay for the party.

Melbourne City Council commissioned a now confidential $300,000 report by efficiency experts Ernst and Young.

Exact details of the report have been kept secret and away from ratepayers prying eyes. It is understood that the report has recommend major cuts in staff and expenditure, expected to generate up to 10 million dollars in savings, by cutting the fat.

The Council bureaucracy under John so has gotten fat and its now time for a crash diet and exercise to trim the fat.

The Council’s governance department in particular has come under scrutiny with the report identifying that some staff were employed, but were not really sure as to what their job entailed. The City Council had gone through a fast pace staffing growth spurt with senior executives redesigning their jobs to suit their life-style as opposed to the needs of the organization.

How the media preceived the So budget.

Herald Sun 24 May 2007

Mayor sharpens axe at Town HallMary Bolling
Herald Sun May 24, 2007 12:00am

LORD Mayor John So is swinging an axe over his staff, admitting a Melbourne City Council budget black hole will result in cuts.

The admission could put Cr So under investigation, with his comments potentially breaking a confidentiality agreement.

Cr So was on the back foot yesterday, after council’s big-spending budget included $4.2 million in undisclosed spending cuts, to keep the budget out of the red.

Quizzed about the cuts, the Lord Mayor was asked if Town Hall staff would be sacked.

“Yes, but there are places where staff can be relocated elsewhere,” he replied, and later qualified his statement. “Yes, we will have some staff redundancies, of course.”

The budget included the $4.2 million hole after a $300,000 efficiency review recommended ways to cut council fat.

The review was shown to councillors three weeks ago after they signed a deed of confidentiality promising not to reveal the contents.

But Cr So confirmed speculation that the review recommended staff cuts, potentially breaking the confidentiality agreement.

Last night, fellow councillor Peter Clarke said he understood the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer were already being investigated over the comments.

“To make those comments were completely inappropriate,” Cr Clarke said.

“Council has to take action — there cannot be one law for all the councillors and another for the Lord Mayor.”

Council has already asked Victorian Local Government Minister Richard Wynne to investigate one alleged breach of the deed, after a report revealed contents of the review.

Any councillor found to have breached a confidentiality deed could be sacked or fined.

Yesterday, the Australian Services Union slammed Cr So for his comments, and branch secretary Brian Parkinson called for honesty.

“Rather than clarify the situation, John So has chosen to add to the stress and pressure on MCC staff by talking of redundancies in the media without keeping his workforce informed,” Mr Parkinson said.

“Everyone thinks their job is on the line.”

In this week’s budget, council actually allowed for funds to increase staff by 66, taking the total figure to 1076.

The details of the efficiency report and any planned sackings won’t be released publicly until next Wednesday.

Former mayor Kevin Chamberlin said the situation showed Cr So was unfit for his job and called on the State Government to sack councillors.

“John So is all about just getting re-elected, and he doesn’t care what the cost is,” he said.

Yesterday, Cr So said he was regularly congratulated on his work as Lord Mayor. Launching a talkfest about the future of Melbourne, he flagged interest in running for mayor again in council elections this year.

Rare revolt on budget as So confirms job cuts ahead
The Age May 24, 2007

Other Links:
Cash woes send council running to the meters
As you spend, So shall you reap?
Budget blow-out a ‘turn on’ for media man So
Council stamps feet over post office rent

A LACK of transparency and a “frivolous” plan to light the Tan running track around the Royal Botanic Gardens were the “last straw” for Melbourne City Council’s finance chairman Brian Shanahan.

This week, in an extraordinary vote of no-confidence in Lord Mayor John So, Cr Shanahan became the first finance chair at the city council for at least 20 years to vote against his council’s budget.

Cr Shanahan yesterday spoke out against Cr So’s plans to “ignore” a $4.2 million deficit in the council’s budget. This figure has been calculated by consultants Ernst & Young in a cost-cutting review of council operations.

Its report has been deemed confidential by chief executive David Pitchford and has not been released to the public. However, its recommendations will be relied on to find $4.2 million in savings to balance the council’s 2007-08 budget.

Cost-cutting methods could include sacking staff, asset sales or abandoning council projects.

The budget, released on Tuesday night, does not indicate where the necessary spending cuts will be made.

Mr Shanahan said his decision not to back the budget was not “made lightly”.

“It probably hasn’t happened before that a finance chair has voted this way, against their own council’s budget,” said Cr Shanahan, an ALP member who until recently supported the Lord Mayor in most council votes.

“But the public simply does not have enough information for us to set this budget in the way it should happen,” he said.

Cr Shanahan said that a stubborn insistence by Cr So and his team that a plan to light the Tan running track must proceed was the final straw.

“If we spend $1.6 million lighting that track, and not on saving the city’s trees, people will be able to run at night and have a view of dead trees,” he said.

Other significant items in the budget, revealed on Tuesday, include extending the operating times of city parking meters until 7.30pm on weekdays and Saturdays to raise extra money, dumping plans for a $7 million child-care centre at Docklands and increasing child-care fees by 10 per cent.

Cr Shanahan was to appear alongside the Lord Mayor on Tuesday afternoon to sell the annual budget but he withdrew mid-morning.

Cr So came under renewed pressure yesterday after saying there would be sackings at the council.

He was reluctant to answer questions on the topic but said on 3AW that “of course” there would be redundancies.

Fellow councillors jumped on the admission, calling on Local Government Minister Dick Wynne to investigate whether Cr So had revealed confidential information from the Ernst & Young report.

All nine councillors are already under investigation over the leaking of details from the report to The Age earlier this month.

Unions also snapped to attention after Cr So’s comment, demanding that the Lord Mayor reveal possible job losses.

“How many job losses is he proposing and where they will come from?” Australian Services Union secretary Brian Parkinson asked.

Rumours were circulating among staff that up to 400 jobs would go, Mr Parkinson said. “John So has let these rumours and unsubstantiated claims run rife for too long,” he said.

Asked whether he would run for lord mayor at November’s council election, Cr So said: “I’m running” but quickly changed this to say he was “considering” running.

Media Frenzy on a budget So-wing the seeds of discontent

Melbourne City Council has come under attack over its budget and division within the Council Chamber have become more apparent. The City of Melbourne is faced with a blow out in its financial position following John So wild unchecked spending spree. Now the roost has come home and John So must cut expenditure to pay for the party.

Melbourne City Council commissioned a now confidential $300,000 report by efficiency experts Ernst and Young.

Exact details of the report have been kept secret and away from ratepayers prying eyes. It is understood that the report has recommend major cuts in staff and expenditure, expected to generate up to 10 million dollars in savings, by cutting the fat.

The Council bureaucracy under John so has gotten fat and its now time for a crash diet and exercise to trim the fat.

The Council’s governance department in particular has come under scrutiny with the report identifying that some staff were employed, but were not really sure as to what their job entailed. The City Council had gone through a fast pace staffing growth spurt with senior executives redesigning their jobs to suit their life-style as opposed to the needs of the organization.

How the media preceived the So budget.

Herald Sun 24 May 2007

Mayor sharpens axe at Town HallMary Bolling
Herald Sun May 24, 2007 12:00am

LORD Mayor John So is swinging an axe over his staff, admitting a Melbourne City Council budget black hole will result in cuts.

The admission could put Cr So under investigation, with his comments potentially breaking a confidentiality agreement.

Cr So was on the back foot yesterday, after council’s big-spending budget included $4.2 million in undisclosed spending cuts, to keep the budget out of the red.

Quizzed about the cuts, the Lord Mayor was asked if Town Hall staff would be sacked.

“Yes, but there are places where staff can be relocated elsewhere,” he replied, and later qualified his statement. “Yes, we will have some staff redundancies, of course.”

The budget included the $4.2 million hole after a $300,000 efficiency review recommended ways to cut council fat.

The review was shown to councillors three weeks ago after they signed a deed of confidentiality promising not to reveal the contents.

But Cr So confirmed speculation that the review recommended staff cuts, potentially breaking the confidentiality agreement.

Last night, fellow councillor Peter Clarke said he understood the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer were already being investigated over the comments.

“To make those comments were completely inappropriate,” Cr Clarke said.

“Council has to take action — there cannot be one law for all the councillors and another for the Lord Mayor.”

Council has already asked Victorian Local Government Minister Richard Wynne to investigate one alleged breach of the deed, after a report revealed contents of the review.

Any councillor found to have breached a confidentiality deed could be sacked or fined.

Yesterday, the Australian Services Union slammed Cr So for his comments, and branch secretary Brian Parkinson called for honesty.

“Rather than clarify the situation, John So has chosen to add to the stress and pressure on MCC staff by talking of redundancies in the media without keeping his workforce informed,” Mr Parkinson said.

“Everyone thinks their job is on the line.”

In this week’s budget, council actually allowed for funds to increase staff by 66, taking the total figure to 1076.

The details of the efficiency report and any planned sackings won’t be released publicly until next Wednesday.

Former mayor Kevin Chamberlin said the situation showed Cr So was unfit for his job and called on the State Government to sack councillors.

“John So is all about just getting re-elected, and he doesn’t care what the cost is,” he said.

Yesterday, Cr So said he was regularly congratulated on his work as Lord Mayor. Launching a talkfest about the future of Melbourne, he flagged interest in running for mayor again in council elections this year.

Rare revolt on budget as So confirms job cuts ahead
The Age May 24, 2007

Other Links:
Cash woes send council running to the meters
As you spend, So shall you reap?
Budget blow-out a ‘turn on’ for media man So
Council stamps feet over post office rent

A LACK of transparency and a “frivolous” plan to light the Tan running track around the Royal Botanic Gardens were the “last straw” for Melbourne City Council’s finance chairman Brian Shanahan.

This week, in an extraordinary vote of no-confidence in Lord Mayor John So, Cr Shanahan became the first finance chair at the city council for at least 20 years to vote against his council’s budget.

Cr Shanahan yesterday spoke out against Cr So’s plans to “ignore” a $4.2 million deficit in the council’s budget. This figure has been calculated by consultants Ernst & Young in a cost-cutting review of council operations.

Its report has been deemed confidential by chief executive David Pitchford and has not been released to the public. However, its recommendations will be relied on to find $4.2 million in savings to balance the council’s 2007-08 budget.

Cost-cutting methods could include sacking staff, asset sales or abandoning council projects.

The budget, released on Tuesday night, does not indicate where the necessary spending cuts will be made.

Mr Shanahan said his decision not to back the budget was not “made lightly”.

“It probably hasn’t happened before that a finance chair has voted this way, against their own council’s budget,” said Cr Shanahan, an ALP member who until recently supported the Lord Mayor in most council votes.

“But the public simply does not have enough information for us to set this budget in the way it should happen,” he said.

Cr Shanahan said that a stubborn insistence by Cr So and his team that a plan to light the Tan running track must proceed was the final straw.

“If we spend $1.6 million lighting that track, and not on saving the city’s trees, people will be able to run at night and have a view of dead trees,” he said.

Other significant items in the budget, revealed on Tuesday, include extending the operating times of city parking meters until 7.30pm on weekdays and Saturdays to raise extra money, dumping plans for a $7 million child-care centre at Docklands and increasing child-care fees by 10 per cent.

Cr Shanahan was to appear alongside the Lord Mayor on Tuesday afternoon to sell the annual budget but he withdrew mid-morning.

Cr So came under renewed pressure yesterday after saying there would be sackings at the council.

He was reluctant to answer questions on the topic but said on 3AW that “of course” there would be redundancies.

Fellow councillors jumped on the admission, calling on Local Government Minister Dick Wynne to investigate whether Cr So had revealed confidential information from the Ernst & Young report.

All nine councillors are already under investigation over the leaking of details from the report to The Age earlier this month.

Unions also snapped to attention after Cr So’s comment, demanding that the Lord Mayor reveal possible job losses.

“How many job losses is he proposing and where they will come from?” Australian Services Union secretary Brian Parkinson asked.

Rumours were circulating among staff that up to 400 jobs would go, Mr Parkinson said. “John So has let these rumours and unsubstantiated claims run rife for too long,” he said.

Asked whether he would run for lord mayor at November’s council election, Cr So said: “I’m running” but quickly changed this to say he was “considering” running.

Where is the report. What does Cock do for his bucks?

Where is the report. What does Cock do for his bucks.

An anonymous writer wrote to us this week highlighting a report in the Age dating back to May 2006.

We are interested in knowing was such a report ever present and if so will it be tabled and made public.

It’s time to put an end to the secret Council business and restore open and transparent governance to Melbourne and put an end to the corruption and constant cover-ups.

We still have not received any news or information about the cost of Councils in house catering and free booze. Council is due to report on the costs of Council’s overseas junkets and Councillor expenses for the previous quarter. We will be there to summarise the facts and highlight the omissions.

Keep sending in your tidbits. There is a lot we hope to follow up on but as you understand we need to verify all claims. Thanks to the Tipster from the Governance Department for the information on the parking fine issue… It was very interesting.

Comment sent to us.

Diary has been waiting by the phone since May 10 for Melbourne City Council spin doctor Hayden Cock to explain why he sacked two media chiefs but we’re not the only ones wondering what he does to earn his $230,000-plus package. Watchdog warrior Councillor Catherine Ng asked the finance committee for a “detailed report” of the Corporate Affairs Directorate, which Mr Cocky heads, because his appointment had contributed to a blow-out in staff costs. “Do we need to have more people talking about what we’ve done or more people to do the job?” Cr Ng told Diary. Oh, Catherine, if only Mr Cocky would talk!

http://www.theage.com.au/news/carbone–money/tolarno-finds-a-new-guy/2006/05/28/1148754869425.html?page=2

Where is the report. What does Cock do for his bucks?

Where is the report. What does Cock do for his bucks.

An anonymous writer wrote to us this week highlighting a report in the Age dating back to May 2006.

We are interested in knowing was such a report ever present and if so will it be tabled and made public.

It’s time to put an end to the secret Council business and restore open and transparent governance to Melbourne and put an end to the corruption and constant cover-ups.

We still have not received any news or information about the cost of Councils in house catering and free booze. Council is due to report on the costs of Council’s overseas junkets and Councillor expenses for the previous quarter. We will be there to summarise the facts and highlight the omissions.

Keep sending in your tidbits. There is a lot we hope to follow up on but as you understand we need to verify all claims. Thanks to the Tipster from the Governance Department for the information on the parking fine issue… It was very interesting.

Comment sent to us.

Diary has been waiting by the phone since May 10 for Melbourne City Council spin doctor Hayden Cock to explain why he sacked two media chiefs but we’re not the only ones wondering what he does to earn his $230,000-plus package. Watchdog warrior Councillor Catherine Ng asked the finance committee for a “detailed report” of the Corporate Affairs Directorate, which Mr Cocky heads, because his appointment had contributed to a blow-out in staff costs. “Do we need to have more people talking about what we’ve done or more people to do the job?” Cr Ng told Diary. Oh, Catherine, if only Mr Cocky would talk!

http://www.theage.com.au/news/carbone–money/tolarno-finds-a-new-guy/2006/05/28/1148754869425.html?page=2

Where is the report. What does Cock do for his bucks?

Where is the report. What does Cock do for his bucks.

An anonymous writer wrote to us this week highlighting a report in the Age dating back to May 2006.

We are interested in knowing was such a report ever present and if so will it be tabled and made public.

It’s time to put an end to the secret Council business and restore open and transparent governance to Melbourne and put an end to the corruption and constant cover-ups.

We still have not received any news or information about the cost of Councils in house catering and free booze. Council is due to report on the costs of Council’s overseas junkets and Councillor expenses for the previous quarter. We will be there to summarise the facts and highlight the omissions.

Keep sending in your tidbits. There is a lot we hope to follow up on but as you understand we need to verify all claims. Thanks to the Tipster from the Governance Department for the information on the parking fine issue… It was very interesting.

Comment sent to us.

Diary has been waiting by the phone since May 10 for Melbourne City Council spin doctor Hayden Cock to explain why he sacked two media chiefs but we’re not the only ones wondering what he does to earn his $230,000-plus package. Watchdog warrior Councillor Catherine Ng asked the finance committee for a “detailed report” of the Corporate Affairs Directorate, which Mr Cocky heads, because his appointment had contributed to a blow-out in staff costs. “Do we need to have more people talking about what we’ve done or more people to do the job?” Cr Ng told Diary. Oh, Catherine, if only Mr Cocky would talk!

http://www.theage.com.au/news/carbone–money/tolarno-finds-a-new-guy/2006/05/28/1148754869425.html?page=2

So’s team of spin doctors to perform emergency surgery costing $4 MillionCouncil needs a dietician not spin doctors

Extra-ordinary revelations in the Herald-sun.

The Melbourne City Council is about to embark on a PR spending spree costing ratepayers $4 Million dollars to try and improve its image.

Media consultant Hayden Cock has been appointed on a $230,000 annual salary to head up a Million Dollar image make-over media unit of 25 plus staff.

If the City Council is this much flushed with cash and wants to improve its image then why did it up the cost of on-street parking by 48%? Maybe the Lord Mayor’s $100,000.00 Limo driver need a pay rise or Gary Singer needs more money to spend on lurks and perks.

Was it a decision made at a secret clandestine meeting of the Council – Councillors’ Information Exchange Sessions?

There was no mention of this to our knowledge in the Council papers and certainly not in the Council’s 2005/2006 budget. Councillors were not part of the selection process. Normally the Chairman of the Finance committee would be on the selection panel for a senior director’s position. In this case the selection was left solely to the CEO, David Pitchford. It is unclear at this stage if the Lord Mayor’s press secretary will come under the umbrella of the new mega-media department or will work independently.

The decision was announced by the Lord Mayor, John So, the day before Christmas eve (seven days after the appointment was made) so as to avoid a backlash from the Melbourne business community and ratepayers who will be footing the bill. This is not just a case of redeployment it is a whole new job at the top. One CEO, seven Directors, and a host of top-end to middle line managers.

If the Council has this sort of cash to flash around then it can afford to give ratepayers a rate cut.

It’s not spin-doctors the Council needs, it is a dietician.

Someone who can go though the council trimming the fat and reducing the cost burden on the City. In dietary-health terms the Council is obese. Savings not expenses is what is required.

$4m for council image
Ellen Whinnett 23dec05

MELBOURNE City Council is spending more than $4 million on a 25-member team of spin-doctors to improve its image.

The council has formed a new corporate affairs division, pooling its media and communications branches to improve its image with ratepayers.

And a media relations specialist, Hayden Cock, has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate affairs director at a cost of more than $200,000.


Council chief executive officer David Pitchford yesterday confirmed Mr Cock had been employed on December 15 in the corporate affairs role but declined to say what he would be paid.

It is believed he is earning well over $200,000 — almost double the $120,000 package paid to Lord Mayor John So.

There will be no additional cost to the ratepayers, with Mr Pitchford saying the new corporate affairs divisions would be resourced using the existing budgets. The council has 1101 employees and an annual operating budget of $236 million.

“The establishment of the corporate affairs division will enable the City of Melbourne to lift its performance in line with community expectations in this age of rapidly changing technology and communication,” he said. “The division will have a strong external focus.”

“It will redefine the way we approach stakeholder relations, develop vastly better ways of communication with customers and develop new approaches to relationships with the media.”

The council will spend $1.8 million on salaries for its team of corporate and media relations staff, and a further $2.3 million in operating costs.

The move comes after the council faced criticism on several fronts, particularly over Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer, who was fined $10,000 for failing to cash cheques while he was a partner in a law firm.

There was further controversy yesterday when it was discovered Cr Singer’s partner, Geoffrey Smith, had been appointed to a committee to advise the council on art.

So’s team of spin doctors to perform emergency surgery costing $4 MillionCouncil needs a dietician not spin doctors

Extra-ordinary revelations in the Herald-sun.

The Melbourne City Council is about to embark on a PR spending spree costing ratepayers $4 Million dollars to try and improve its image.

Media consultant Hayden Cock has been appointed on a $230,000 annual salary to head up a Million Dollar image make-over media unit of 25 plus staff.

If the City Council is this much flushed with cash and wants to improve its image then why did it up the cost of on-street parking by 48%? Maybe the Lord Mayor’s $100,000.00 Limo driver need a pay rise or Gary Singer needs more money to spend on lurks and perks.

Was it a decision made at a secret clandestine meeting of the Council – Councillors’ Information Exchange Sessions?

There was no mention of this to our knowledge in the Council papers and certainly not in the Council’s 2005/2006 budget. Councillors were not part of the selection process. Normally the Chairman of the Finance committee would be on the selection panel for a senior director’s position. In this case the selection was left solely to the CEO, David Pitchford. It is unclear at this stage if the Lord Mayor’s press secretary will come under the umbrella of the new mega-media department or will work independently.

The decision was announced by the Lord Mayor, John So, the day before Christmas eve (seven days after the appointment was made) so as to avoid a backlash from the Melbourne business community and ratepayers who will be footing the bill. This is not just a case of redeployment it is a whole new job at the top. One CEO, seven Directors, and a host of top-end to middle line managers.

If the Council has this sort of cash to flash around then it can afford to give ratepayers a rate cut.

It’s not spin-doctors the Council needs, it is a dietician.

Someone who can go though the council trimming the fat and reducing the cost burden on the City. In dietary-health terms the Council is obese. Savings not expenses is what is required.

$4m for council image
Ellen Whinnett 23dec05

MELBOURNE City Council is spending more than $4 million on a 25-member team of spin-doctors to improve its image.

The council has formed a new corporate affairs division, pooling its media and communications branches to improve its image with ratepayers.

And a media relations specialist, Hayden Cock, has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate affairs director at a cost of more than $200,000.


Council chief executive officer David Pitchford yesterday confirmed Mr Cock had been employed on December 15 in the corporate affairs role but declined to say what he would be paid.

It is believed he is earning well over $200,000 — almost double the $120,000 package paid to Lord Mayor John So.

There will be no additional cost to the ratepayers, with Mr Pitchford saying the new corporate affairs divisions would be resourced using the existing budgets. The council has 1101 employees and an annual operating budget of $236 million.

“The establishment of the corporate affairs division will enable the City of Melbourne to lift its performance in line with community expectations in this age of rapidly changing technology and communication,” he said. “The division will have a strong external focus.”

“It will redefine the way we approach stakeholder relations, develop vastly better ways of communication with customers and develop new approaches to relationships with the media.”

The council will spend $1.8 million on salaries for its team of corporate and media relations staff, and a further $2.3 million in operating costs.

The move comes after the council faced criticism on several fronts, particularly over Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer, who was fined $10,000 for failing to cash cheques while he was a partner in a law firm.

There was further controversy yesterday when it was discovered Cr Singer’s partner, Geoffrey Smith, had been appointed to a committee to advise the council on art.

So’s team of spin doctors to perform emergency surgery costing $4 MillionCouncil needs a dietician not spin doctors

Extra-ordinary revelations in the Herald-sun.

The Melbourne City Council is about to embark on a PR spending spree costing ratepayers $4 Million dollars to try and improve its image.

Media consultant Hayden Cock has been appointed on a $230,000 annual salary to head up a Million Dollar image make-over media unit of 25 plus staff.

If the City Council is this much flushed with cash and wants to improve its image then why did it up the cost of on-street parking by 48%? Maybe the Lord Mayor’s $100,000.00 Limo driver need a pay rise or Gary Singer needs more money to spend on lurks and perks.

Was it a decision made at a secret clandestine meeting of the Council – Councillors’ Information Exchange Sessions?

There was no mention of this to our knowledge in the Council papers and certainly not in the Council’s 2005/2006 budget. Councillors were not part of the selection process. Normally the Chairman of the Finance committee would be on the selection panel for a senior director’s position. In this case the selection was left solely to the CEO, David Pitchford. It is unclear at this stage if the Lord Mayor’s press secretary will come under the umbrella of the new mega-media department or will work independently.

The decision was announced by the Lord Mayor, John So, the day before Christmas eve (seven days after the appointment was made) so as to avoid a backlash from the Melbourne business community and ratepayers who will be footing the bill. This is not just a case of redeployment it is a whole new job at the top. One CEO, seven Directors, and a host of top-end to middle line managers.

If the Council has this sort of cash to flash around then it can afford to give ratepayers a rate cut.

It’s not spin-doctors the Council needs, it is a dietician.

Someone who can go though the council trimming the fat and reducing the cost burden on the City. In dietary-health terms the Council is obese. Savings not expenses is what is required.

$4m for council image
Ellen Whinnett 23dec05

MELBOURNE City Council is spending more than $4 million on a 25-member team of spin-doctors to improve its image.

The council has formed a new corporate affairs division, pooling its media and communications branches to improve its image with ratepayers.

And a media relations specialist, Hayden Cock, has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate affairs director at a cost of more than $200,000.


Council chief executive officer David Pitchford yesterday confirmed Mr Cock had been employed on December 15 in the corporate affairs role but declined to say what he would be paid.

It is believed he is earning well over $200,000 — almost double the $120,000 package paid to Lord Mayor John So.

There will be no additional cost to the ratepayers, with Mr Pitchford saying the new corporate affairs divisions would be resourced using the existing budgets. The council has 1101 employees and an annual operating budget of $236 million.

“The establishment of the corporate affairs division will enable the City of Melbourne to lift its performance in line with community expectations in this age of rapidly changing technology and communication,” he said. “The division will have a strong external focus.”

“It will redefine the way we approach stakeholder relations, develop vastly better ways of communication with customers and develop new approaches to relationships with the media.”

The council will spend $1.8 million on salaries for its team of corporate and media relations staff, and a further $2.3 million in operating costs.

The move comes after the council faced criticism on several fronts, particularly over Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer, who was fined $10,000 for failing to cash cheques while he was a partner in a law firm.

There was further controversy yesterday when it was discovered Cr Singer’s partner, Geoffrey Smith, had been appointed to a committee to advise the council on art.