Report to look at council portfolios

By Casey Neill

Greater Dandenong Council will look at assigning portfolios to its councillors.
Cr Matthew Kirwan asked for a report on the idea at the Monday 27 November council meeting.
He said that other councils assigned portfolios to reflect councillors’ areas of interest and areas where they bring skills and experience.
“Portfolio holders become secondary spokespersons and first ports of call when the mayor is unavailable or delegates,” he said.
They could become primary assistants at events relating to their portfolio “and it arguably allows greater participation across the councillor group”.
He said this was already unofficially occurring and formally assigning portfolios would “bring some consistency and clarity”.
Cr Kirwan asked that a report come back to the council in March outlining advantages, disadvantages and potential models.
“I think there’s great potential value in it,” he said.
“If I had all the answers I’d write the report myself.
“I’ve done enough investigation to find that this is a worthwhile idea worth investigating.”
Cr Jim Memeti said he had concerns about the move and that “the mayor should always be the spokesperson for the council”.
“What we have at the moment works really well for this council, but I’m always open to different options,” he said.
“I’ll wait for the report before I make a decision.”
Cr Roz Blades said she believed the council already had the best method but welcomed any new ideas for improvement that the report could deliver.
Cr Sean O’Reilly opposed the motion, and supported “not doing what doesn’t need to be done”.
“Every idea that we chase displaces time and effort of ourselves and officers writing up reports when they could be doing something potentially more useful,” he said.
Cr Tim Dark also voted against the motion.
He said City of Casey used a portfolio system and its councillors had told him that it didn’t work.