Published by Cobram Courier online on April 17, 2014.

This article also appeared in print on April 16.


New Moira Shire Council chief executive Mark Henderson has vowed to overhaul the organisation when he takes the helm next month.

He listed a better relationship with the Victorian Government and a better financial position as key priorities for council in the next two years.

But promoting a higher code of conduct for staff and councillors alike topped Mr Henderson’s to-do list at Moira.

Speaking with the Courier on Thursday, he addressed the widespread claims of bullying, harassment and mismanagement which emerged after a number of senior staff left the organisation last year.

He said he would await the findings of Local Government Inspectorate and Fair Work Commission assessments and investigations, but said he would not tolerate bullying under his leadership.

‘‘There’s no place for that in a work place,’’ Mr Henderson said.

‘‘In the immediate, they’re things I’ll be trying to address.’’

Asked whether individuals found to be acting inappropriately would be sacked, Mr Henderson reiterated his commitment to promoting a ‘‘safe’’ and ‘‘happy’’ workplace.

‘‘As incoming CEO, I don’t want to say I’m going to fire people,’’ he said.

‘‘What I’m going to do is establish a standard of behaviour that I live up to, and I expect other people to live up to it, too.

‘‘People who don’t live up to that expectation don’t have a future with the sort of organisation I like to run.’’

In addition to improving behaviour standards, Mr Henderson said he would be working to improve council’s financial position.

He pointed to last year’s Victorian Auditor-General’s report, released in December, which he said ‘‘doesn’t really paint a healthy picture’’ of Moira’s finances.

Mr Henderson said he would be working to improve key indicators — such as financial sustainability and capital investments — but it would take up to two years to notice a difference.

He said it was also important to be realistic about growing council’s finances, given its large area with extensive assets to maintain.

‘‘Moira is never going to be a very wealthy shire like one of those inner Melbourne suburban councils who have got more money than it knows how to spend,’’ he said.

AuthorToni Brient