Our Say: Why all the secrecy and failure to explain?

A wall of silence descended around the Dubbo Regional Council on Friday over the planned removal of its general manager Mark Riley.

Councillors, including Mayor Ben Shields, were refusing to comment on the basis they could not breach their code of conduct.

However, some details on the intention and actions of councillors involved in the plan were known by establishment figures in Dubbo as early as Thursday afternoon. That was not long after a small group of them – their names remain secret but would have to have included Cr Shields – saw Mr Riley to tap him on the shoulder.

So secret was the mission that some serving councillors were not told about the move against the most senior DRC executive until after it had taken place. 

The question is: Why does Mr Riley have to go?

That too is a supersecret.

Cr Shields was given three opportunities from Thursday afternoon to tell the ratepayers what was happening in their council. He did not avail himself of them.

Cr Kevin Parker, who along with an unknown number of other councillors was not in the Riley loop, spoke out on Friday on the matter. He was the only elected representative to do so.

It might come as a surprise to the new councillors, but on Thursday and Friday the ratepayers who put them there wanted to know more, evidenced by demands on the Daily Liberal’s Facebook page from commentators seeking more information and explanations.

It has astonished many that the first council elected after the forced mergers would remove the GM only two months after taking power … they haven’t got their “feet under the desks yet”.

Only recently some of those apparently supportive of Mr Riley’s departure were defending a decision to have all 10 councillors attend a Sydney local government conference because it was a new council and some of its members were councillors for the first time. They all needed the experience.

Three former mayors issued a statement on Friday praising Mr Riley’s contribution to Dubbo. Does the new council think they all got it wrong.

So, why is there a plan to have Mr Riley go?

Cr Shields is the mayor. He needs to give a full and frank answer. Now. Not at a time of his choosing.