Townsville City Council (TCC) announced today, the appointment of ex-Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and Deloitte strategic planning accountant and auditor as the local government authority’s Chief Finance Officer (CFO).
Mr. Matt Thompson will begin his new role as head of the Business Services division. This is the final executive position to be filled since the controversial restructure that abolished 144 middle management and senior management positions at the local government authority.
The TCC press release announced the position of CFO is the head of finance, IT, procurement, legal and people and culture. However, the fleet and asset division, which was announced in the TCC restructure as part of the CFO’s responsibilities just weeks ago, has been omitted, prompting speculation about the effectiveness of the changes.
The significant role of General Manager Fleet and Assets (a non-executive manager role) was defined in the TCC’s future management restructure. This division holds the largest asset base of the Council on the balance sheet which includes plant and equipment, infrastructure, buildings and real estate.
But what is the TCC’s purpose of omitting the largest financial component of the Asset and Fleet responsibilities from the new CFO responsibilities?
The Deputy Mayor, Cr. Les Walker was unaware of any changes to the management structure when TREN contacted his office seeking clarification. “It could be a mistake but I’ll check it out and give them a call and get back to you,”
Mr. Walker received confirmation from a TCC spokesperson who said “the Asset and Fleet responsibilities come under the Director for Infrastructure and Operations”. However, the current management structure published on the TCC website (shown here) and announced to the ratepayers clearly shows the GM Asset and Fleet reporting to the CFO.
Mr. Thompson is a high calibre appointment for the local government authority. There is a growing trend for high calibre accountants and executives being appointed as part of the corporatocracy model adopted by the then Peter Beattie Labor government in Queensland. The former Premier resigned and nominated Anna Bligh because of the backlash after adopting the Local Government (Reform Implementation) Act 2007. A further amendment to the law occurred in 2009 under which local government authorities are to be managed.
The poor financial sustainability of rural councils prompted the Beattie government to set up the Local Government Reform Commission (LGRC) in May 2007 that reviewed all Council’s except the Brisbane City Council. The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) initiated the Size, Shape and Sustainability (SSS) program, which failed to create reform within the Labor government timeframe of the 2008 election. However, the LGAQ accused the Beattie government “had indulged in covert action, deliberate subterfuge and lack of community consultation and threat”.
The Queensland Treasury Corporation and independent financial advisors, including PwC, found in the financial review of 105 Councils that 40 percent were unsustainable. However, no such financial evidence was provided to the Councils, LGAQ and the community.
So the LGRC recommended massive amalgamations of local councils into regions such as the Thuringowa Shire Council into Townsville City. Massive protests occurred, the federal government funded plebiscites where strong “No” votes were taken and eventually 4 regional councils de-amalgamated.
The ex-Treasurer and member of the LGRC, Mr. Terry MacKenroth was referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission in 2009 after resigning from the Local Government and Planning ministry. After authoring the SEQ Regional Plan, he resigned and 25 days later joined the Board of Divine Ltd helping the developer find loopholes to secure 527 residential homes outside the scope of the SEQ Regional Plan.
The Smart cities Townsville “City Deal”, which was signed off by Mayor Jenny Hill, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in 2016, has embedded multinational technology companies and the big corporations model across government.
Government-owned corporations (GOC) like the Queensland Investments Corporation (QIC), the energy generators Stanwell and CS Energy, and non-government owned (NGOs) organisations at the “grassroots” level of service delivery, attract private interests and government funded Advisory Boards to manage various “social investment” initiatives using the big corporations enterprise risk management structure.
“Mr. Thompson has been a Big 4 Partner, for the past 10 years with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Deloitte, as a leading Executive and Board Advisor on strategy and growth, finance and risk management and business optimisation,” the TCC statement said.
The Townsville City Council press release boasted about the high calibre credentials of Mr Thompson saying “he has worked extensively with senior executives and management teams across the government and private sector, advising some of Australia’s largest Government entities (Local, State and Federal): Government-owned businesses; energy and resources; power and utilities and some of Australia’s most successful public organisations.”
The TCC also said that “Matt has successfully grown and led high performing teams of professionals across Australia, Asia and North America. He brings significant experience in developing and executing strategy, planning and delivering results, and managing major initiatives.”
The appointment of the CFO, who is also in charge of all operational business including the implementation of the highly controversial Smart City Deal “future city’s office” with the federal Government, comes just weeks after the resignation of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) that occupied the role for only a few months before leaving for “family reasons”.
The ex-CIO is an expert in cyber security, big data and IoT systems. The former TCC employee is a strong opponent of the Turnbull Government’s policy to abolish encryption that protects personal, government and corporate information from terrorists, criminals or misuse.
The Turnbull government has recently established a super Department of Home Affairs under the leadership of the Hon. Peter Dutton, who just 12 months ago invested in the Townsville retail shopping centre market at Wulguru.
This super security department has been established by Mr. Turnbull to address the increasing and imminent risk of hacking, cyber and covert terrorism and criminality threatening the interests including the mainland of Australia.
Furthermore, the big four accounting firms have come under federal Senate inquiry back in 2015 as part of the Government’s investigations of multinational corporations’ accounting practices into taxation avoidance.
Deloitte, KPMG, Ernest and Young and Pricewaterhouse Cooper, which is the 5th largest privately owned company in the United States based in London, is protected from public scrutiny not being publicly listed on any stock exchange.
A leading NSW University Lecturer in accounting alleged the Big 4 have purposely avoided requests from the Senate inquiry to assist the federal government in its duties to collect tax obligations from multinational corporations.
Mr Thompson holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA), and a Bachelor of Economics with an Honors degree.
The Townsville City Council commented that the appointment of the Chief Finance Officer “completes the recruitment of Council’s Senior Executive.”
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