Ipswich City Council Interim Administrator Greg Chemello is stepping down from his position at council next month after being appointed Moreton Bay Regional Council’s new CEO.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Mr Chemello had been in the position since August 2018 after councillors were dismissed and would be succeeded by Steve Greenwood, a member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC), which has been working closely with Mr Chemello in his role with council.
“I’d like to thank Greg for taking the helm during a difficult time for Ipswich City Council and doing a terrific job,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“Steve will now take the council up to the March 2020 elections, when a new mayor and team of councillors will be elected.
“I can’t thank Greg enough for the excellent way in which he has carried out his duties with the council.”
Mr Chemello said he had “mixed feelings” about the move.
“I will commence a new role in another local government from mid January 2020; an organisation that needs to address a number of significant issues in relation to governance, councillor-management relations, community engagement, human resource management and dealing with rapid urban growth. Sound familiar?,” he said in a personal email to council staff.
“It was, like Ipswich, an opportunity that I could not miss; albeit popping up a couple of months earlier than I would have ideally liked. But I have learned over the years that you often can’t dictate timing of major life events.
“You have collectively achieved much in the last 15 plus months; significant policy and strategy transformations; local laws reformed; major project planning underway; reporting, budgeting and planning refocused; councillor integrity package now in place; a proper ICT strategy; new planning scheme under way, to name a few.”
Mr Greenwood is due to start on 13 January 2020 and remain in the position until the local government elections in March. He brings to the position a wealth of experience in urban planning and the property sector, and is the founding CEO of the Queensland Futures Institute, former CEO of Canegrowers Australia and former Queensland Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia.
“Steve will take over leadership of this reform agenda that, from elected representation perspective, is almost done. I know that he intends to empower and enable this council to continue the reform journey we have started,” Mr Chemello said.
“I should remind you that the IMC finishes up this month. When Steve takes over as acting Interim Administrator in January it will be only a month away from formal caretaker period.
“There is still work to do; we all know that. Much of this is internal council functional/operational in nature and will be guided by the wise mind and experienced hands of David Farmer, who I thank enormously for coming on board to be your council’s CEO.
“It has been an absolute honour and privilege to be your council Interim Administrator; a role I never took for granted and, although there have been some really tough days, never regretted taking on.”
Speaking on ABC Radio today, Mr Chemello said it was “another opportunity to do something good for a community and make a difference to an organisation and help people deal with a rapidly growing urban area”.
“We’ve done the bulk of what we need to do (at Ipswich) in terms of future councillors and we’ve released our “How to Be A Councillor” (guide) with all the rules, policies and guidelines – all that’s in place,” he said.
“The new local laws are in place and there’s about more than a dozen folks who have already put their hand up to run for council and more coming out. All that is really positive and the community should be positive also.”
Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland said Mr Chemello was the standout applicant from a pool of immense talent for the CEO role.
“Greg is without question one of the most competent and forward-thinking people in local government, with an unrivalled attention to detail,” he said.
“In less than 18 months he has managed to transform Ipswich from a council mired by controversy and corruption into a respected operation where people look forward to going to work, with a focus on improving services for the people of Ipswich.
“He’s exactly the person we need to not only deliver the changes recommended to us in Grassroots Connections Australia’s very blunt assessment of our operational culture, but also articulate how we evolve beyond that.
“Greg’s 35 years’ experience in planning and development, project delivery and government sectors are useful but most invaluable to MBRC is the fact that he’s spent the last 20 years honing his leadership focus on organisations experiencing substantial transformation.
“He told us that his motivation for wanting to work at MBRC was the opportunity to craft a new and refocused vision for our organisation, that empowers our team to successfully adapt to delivering on the modern expectations of our community.”
Cr Sutherland said Mr Chemello had “pulled off the impossible” in Ipswich and looked forward to him “bringing that kind of magic” to Moreton Bay.