The directive from the NSW government requesting general managers to reapply for their roles has been met with uncertainty and anger, in part because general managers are employed by councils and not the state government.
Last week the NSW government requested expressions of interest from existing council general managers for "interim" roles in new merged entities, Fairfax Media reported.
This request builds on Premier Mike Baird’s December announcement to merge 43 councils in Sydney into 25.
The directive asked general managers to respond to three questions about leading organisations during periods of change, and asked for a résumé.
The local government sector has hit back, questioning the state government’s authority in this process.
"Most of us have been pretty well gobsmacked when the government made this decision," Keith Rhoades, the president of Local Government NSW, told Fairfax Media.
"I can't think of another place where it has happened where someone who doesn't employ you tells you can reapply for your job but that you might not get it," Rhoades says.
"That's like the general manager of News [Corp] coming over to you and saying you've got to apply for your job, even though you work for Fairfax," he says.
Despite stating plans to reduce the number of councils, the government has been compelled to undergo a "Boundaries Commission" inquiry into reducing numbers, which is still ongoing.
A spokeswoman for NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole says: "No decision has been made on any merger proposal, but it's appropriate for the government to seek a pool of qualified people to ensure a seamless transition to new councils that proceed.
"The government is aiming to make a decision on proposals currently under consideration by midyear," the spokeswoman says.
Other councillors from local government areas facing possible mergers were told to apply for their positions in the 25 new entities last month.
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Council general managers across Sydney and NSW have been told to reapply for their jobs if they want to work for the new mega-councils that will be formed in an amalgamation of the state’s 43 local councils.