Council looks for calm as new CEO takes charge

August 28, 2023 7:15 am in by
Ali Wastie will start in the CEO role today [supplied]

After 12-months without a permanent CEO a new chief is taking over at the City of Greater Geelong.

Ali Wastie is spending her first day in the role, having spent the last four years as CEO at the Bass Coast Shire Council.

“It’s my first day so i’m getting my feet under the desk,” she said.

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“We deliver over 130 services to the community and we’ve got a very impressive capital works program…one of my opportunities is to make sure we are able to deliver those services.”

She takes charge during a time of tight budgetary constraints at the city where her acting-predecessor, Kaarina Phyland, had controversially slashed millions of dollars in spending on staff and services, while freezing planned infrastructure projects, to help to balance the city’s books.

“We all want to do our very best for the City of Greater Geelong and the nearly 300,000 residents,” Ms Wastie said.

Her appointment was overseen by two monitors that were called in by state government due to concerns about the city’s recruitment process.

“Residents of Greater Geelong deserve a council that represents their needs,” Local Government Minister Melissa Horne said in February.

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“As the level of government closest to the people, councils play a vital role in communities across the state and it’s imperative they have a positive and inclusive culture.”

Council’s former CEO Martin Cutter unexpectedly quit in July last year, before the end of his contract, with mystery still surrounding what prompted his early exit.

Three councillors have also departed the city in last year, adding to concerns of turmoil in the city.

“Many councils have had councillors resign, it’s not that uncommon,” Ms Wastie said.

Several councillors say they’ve been looking forward to Ms Wastie’s arrival to help steady the city, former mayor Peter Murrihy saying “it’s been a challenging time.”

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“We’ve been treading water and waiting for our new CEO to be appointed and commence,” he said in July when responding to news that another former mayor Stephanie Asher had just quit.

“I think it’s a real opportunity, a couple of new faces – or three – over the last few months,” he said.

“In the long run, ratepayers can be assured and be confident that we’re working for them and the best interests of the community.”

The Victorian Electoral Commission is holding a countback for Ms Asher’s replacement at 10:00am today.