Views from the sector - current and former CEOs

CEOs raised several key issues related to employment matters, from contract negotiation and termination payments to the need for councillors to seek independent advice throughout the contracting and performance management processes.

CEO appointments and ongoing performance monitoring - whether you like it or not - are often political. However there is also a lack of interest and capability to manage the relationship. Often, for example, over 15 years you might only have two out of the nine councillors making any comment during the performance process.

- Former metropolitan council CEO


Regarding CEO recruitment and selection, their contract, tenure and departure, and performance evaluation and remuneration, one CEO said council decisions on these matters “are some of the most important decisions a council can make and should be made by a resolution of the full council – [they] should not be delegated”.


Several CEOs were supportive of industry-led aims on management of CEO contracts and the need for councillors to receive training and regular guidance in managing the relationship. One former CEO noted that an independent chair of committee should be appointed to advise the council on contract preparation and negotiation. As a general rule, they stated there should be no performance bonuses included as part of the package.

Best practice guidelines and remuneration policy

CEOs were in general agreement with the direction of the proposed legislative reforms regarding CEO remuneration/performance management policy, audit committee oversight and an independent advisory capacity for the mayor.

There was also general support for a set of best practice guidelines for the CEO remuneration/performance management policy to be developed by the sector.

The mayor and councillors as a rule do not have the capacity to oversee/monitor the CEO recruitment, contractual arrangements and performance monitoring. Independent advice to assist in this is crucial.

- Regional council CEO

Independent advice

All agreed that smaller councils and those in regional and rural areas require the most assistance. At issue is organisational capability, particularly in overall governance, and a budget to manage the CEO contract cycle.

Current and former CEO recommendations

  • With appropriate redactions, the CEO contract should be available online
  • Six month maximum payout gives an individual time to adjust ‘and is not too onerous for the community’
  • No need to advertise contracts every 3-5 years if other safeguards such as proper performance management are implemented
  • Audit committee oversight of remuneration policy is a good step forward.

The maximum payout [on termination] should be six months but the overriding factor is transparency. This should extend to payouts and the council, particularly the mayor, should have access to the CEO’s contract. There should be no dispute about this.

- Former metropolitan council CEO