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Col Gellatley has resigned in protest from his council committee

Col Gellatley has resigned in protest from his council committee Col Gellatly: Picture: Laurel Lee Roderick

Jeremy Bath. Picture: Simone De Peak

TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldhas been told that the restructure was“the final straw” for Dr Gellatly, but a council spokesperson said“no concerns have been expressed” by other members of the audit committee.

n an email to council chief executive Jeremy Bath on April 10, Dr Gellatly wrote:“I understand from recent press reports and the NCC [Newcastle City Council] website that there has been a restructure of the NCC organisation. I note that this will impact on internal audit reporting lines.

“It concerns me that myself and the committee have not been formally advised of the restructure and more concerning, there was no consultation with [the] committee before the announcement.

“Therefore I am resigning as chair of the audit and risk committee immediately. I cannot continue on the committee when there is such a lack of consultation.”

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Dr Gellatly, a career public servant who finished in 2007 after 13 years as the head of the premier’s department, has held various high-profile appointments since then, including three years running Wollongong council after the elected council was sacked for corruption.

Newcastle’s audit and risk committee was established in 2009 and Dr Gellatly has been chairing it since September 2013.

Although it can only advise the council, it is responsible for reviewing key aspects of the council’s operations including financial management, fraud control, governance and compliance.

Responding, Mr Bath wrote that he was disappointed Dr Gellatly had resigned on “press reports”.

He said that “if you had called” he would have learned the restructure was approved by the elected council –including the two councillors on the audit committee –and related to 20 staff on “senior contracts”. He said the affected staff, a staff consultative committee, the media and the unions had all been consulted, and he would “speak with the audit committee” on May 16.

He told Dr Gellatly of “likely changes” to the council’s internal auditing processes and said they had been discussed with an affected staff member “at length in a respectful but robust conversation”.

“I thank you for your service to NCC and wish you the best for the future,” Mr Bath concluded.

Dr Gellatly has not responded to requests for an interview on his resignation.

Audit committee annual reports show Dr Gellatly had been originally appointed for a 12-month term and that this had been repeatedly extended, with his current term due to have finished in September.

The committee has five members –three independent appointees and two councillors, with those positions presently held by Labor’s Jason Dunn and Green councillor John MacKenzie.

The remaining members of the committee are Stephen Coates, an auditor and director of Newcastle firm Prosperity Advisers, and Stephen Horne, an auditor and former head of the NSW Internal Audit Bureau, who in 2015 established a consultancy business, Checks, Balances & Integrity Pty Ltd.

The council spokesperson said Mr Coates would act as acting chairman at the next meeting and a permanent chair would be in place for the following meeting in August.

Committee members are required to sign deeds of confidentiality.

Cr Dunn said this prevented him from discussing committee matters but he was prepared to add that he had “no concerns” regarding Dr Gellatly’s resignation.

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