Ballarat Town Hall. Photo: CHIPPY RIVERA

CEO sent packing, search on for interim replacement

May 18, 2020 BY

CITY of Ballarat councillors have voted to terminate the contract of CEO Justine Linley.

The move came at an extra-ordinary, two-and-a-half hour, meeting of council held in the wake of a damning report from the State Ombudsman.

Embattled City of Ballarat CEO Justine Linley. Photo: FILE

The official announcement of Ms Linley’s demise was made via statement.

“City of Ballarat Councillors held an additional council meeting earlier this evening to consider their response to a Victorian Ombudsman’s report released last week.

“As a result, we have decided to terminate the contract of Chief Executive Officer Justine Linley with immediate effect,” the statement said.

Even though the report substantiated some, but not all, of the accusations directed at Ms Linley, councillors felt enough was enough.

“The report revealed poor judgement from Ms Linley on a number of occasions,” the statement said.

“Councillors believe the City of Ballarat must be led by someone who conducts themselves at the highest of standards and in a manner consistent with the city’s stated code of conduct.

“The Councillors have also lost confidence in Ms Linley and in the best interests of the community, feel that her position as CEO is no longer tenable. As as a result we have terminated her contract.”

In a statement released on social media by Cr Amy Johnson, she detailed the breakdown of the vote.

Crs Johnson, Ben Taylor, Mark Harris, Belinda Coates, Daniel Moloney and Des Hudson voted for dismissal, Crs Samantha McIntosh, Grant Tillett and Jim Rinaldi voted against.

It’s believed the latter three favoured an investigation into the matter.

“The Ombudsman’s report detailed very concerning behaviour and I felt this was council’s only course of action,” Cr Johnson said.

“Those councillors who chose not to vote to terminate the CEO’s employment will need to answer to our community.”

Other issues dealt with during the meeting relate to finding a short-term replacement for Ms Linley.

“The second priority for Councillors was to discuss the other issues raised in the report regarding the general practices of the City of Ballarat,” the statement said.

“To that end, the Council has agreed it will commence a process to appoint an interim CEO and then work with them to conduct reviews of the current procurement, credit card and HR practices.”

Last Thursday the Ombudsman handed down a report into elements of hiring practices involving Ms Linley.

It found, in part, she failed to declare a conflict of interest soon enough in the recruitment of one current director and not at all in another.

The report also found that there was a perception that friends and associates of Ms Linley received favourable treatment.

Read the full Ombudsman’s report here.