Councillors choose youth over experience

Scenic Rim Regional Council councillors and Mayor Greg Christensen (centre). Image Supplied.
Scenic Rim Regional Council councillors and Mayor Greg Christensen (centre). Image Supplied.

The recruitment of Scenic Rim Regional Council’s CEO continues to be mired in controversy with the selection of a final member of the Recruitment Panel to shortlist applicants.

Prior to the 21 June 2022 Council meeting, this Panel consisted of Mayor Greg Christenson, Deputy Mayor Jeff McConnell and Gary Kellar from Reinforcements Management Consulting.

Another Councillor was required to finalise the panel and Cr Virginia West and Cr Marshall Chalk were nominated at the 21 June meeting.

Following a request from Cr McConnell, the two Councillors offered statements to support their nominations.

Cr West said she has been involved in the recruitment of the last three Council CEOs as well as Logan area police recruitment and has completed training for this process.

“I’m also very conscious about gender equality.  I know the Macarthur company have said to us that it is pretty important that we have a range of personnel on the selection panel,” she said.

Cr Chalk said, “I really just want the best outcome for our community and I feel the best way for me to do that is to accept this nomination and be involved.”

Cr McConnell asked about importance of diversity on the panel.

General Manager of People and Strategy, Caroline McMahon, told Councillors that gender diversity in recruitment panels has been accepted best practice for the past five to ten years.

Cr McConnell suggested other types of diversity should be considered, such as diversity of age.

Cr Swanborough said most of the Councillors are pushing seventy and he believed that younger people need to be represented.

“It’s a choice between whether you think for this Council we need to make sure our panel is not discriminated against on age or whether or not it’s discriminated against on gender so I guess the choice is something we have to make,” he said.

Cr Chalk was elected to the panel with a 3-4 split.  Crs McConnell, McInnes, Swanborough and Chalk voted for him.

Cr Chalk said such an important decision for the future of the community meant he couldn’t exclude himself from the panel selection solely based on his gender.

“Whilst Cr West does have extensive experience in CEO appointments, we have other panel members who have similar experience,” he said.

“I believe my appointment gives us a well-rounded panel with my unique point of view looking to the future.”

Cr Chalk denied the decision sets a precedent for selection of a less experienced man over a more qualified and experienced woman in Council positions.

Mayor Christensen told the Beaudesert Bulletin while he will work with the majority decision of Council, his personal perspective is that the decision does not give Council the best quality recruitment panel.

“I think there are a lot of women with energy taken out of them and concerns for their future opportunities and for their daughters opportunities.”

“The community, which I think is more than 50% women in the last census, should be certainly concerned given the nature of that conversation.  They should be watchful to see how any bias may play out in the process, that’s my great concern.”

“Even if it had been two men, to ignore the depth of experience in this process for such a critical role wasn’t what I saw as serving the community the best.”

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Small town newspaper Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady.