Esperance residents call for review of CEO

The community have called on the Council to review the position and performance of Shire chief executive officer Matthew Scott, following the Annual Electors Meeting on Tuesday, January 30.

Esperance Ratepayers Association spokesperson Brian Pearce brought forward the motion, claiming Mr Scott had ‘failed’ in his requirements to provide ‘relevant and timely’ advice and remain ‘open and accountable’ to the community.

Mr Pearce called on elected members of the Council to ‘act’ on the situation and ‘terminate his employment’ before any ‘further damage’ could be done to the community, claiming he was ‘still not listening’ to the people. 

After declaring an impartiality interest, Shire president Victoria Brown spoke against the motion, deeming it a ‘grossly unfair’ hit on a man with a ‘massive’ amount of skill in local government.

“We know some members of this community have strong feelings and opinions about Mr Scott’s ability but I, as a person who takes people on their face value and as they work with high integrity and morals, completely support my CEO,” she said.

“That does not mean that I have to agree with him, and we do not always agree with him.

“We do have robust arguments with him but I would just like you, as the Council’s community, to know that I cannot and will not support this motion.”

The second speaker for the motion, Kaj Nieukerke said Mr Scott was ‘ignoring strongly expressed community views’, leading the town in a ‘disastrous direction’.

“Council is unwilling to adopt and align with the stated view of the majority of electors and, as electors, we now have no option but to declare our opinions publicly,” he said.

The crowd grew hostile after Lara McIntyre, a shire councillor, offered to speak against the motion.

Shire of Esperance Events and Community development coordinator Naomi Christensen took the opportunity to speak against the motion, resisting criticism from the crowd for being an employee of the shire.

“I am also a ratepayer,” Ms Christensen said.

There are a lot of Shires and local governments that have chief executive officers that are potential narcissists and don’t have the community’s best interests at heart but, I am telling you with every fiber of my being, this man here cares about this community and about what the people want.”

The crowd continued to grow hostile, with Ms Brown having to call twice for a ‘point of order’.

Dave Johnston spoke to the motion, stating his lack of confidence in Mr Scott’s ability.

A third member of the public spoke against the motion, refuting claims that Mr Scott ‘didn’t care’ about the community.

Mr Pearce again spoke for the motion, stating he believed it had been a ‘number of years’ that the Council had ‘completely ignored’ residents.

“It is about time that the councillors took on their responsibility to represent the people,” he said.

“Not the administration of the town but the people and should work in the best interests of the people.”

Following a vote, the motion was carried.

All decisions made at an Electors Meeting are to be considered at the next Ordinary Council Meeting, if a Special Meeting is not called for, where Council will have the ability to accept, reject or modify the decisions.