Fact Check: The truth about staffing in the City of Port Phillip

While the City of Port Phillip cuts executive positions, some candidates in this month’s election are campaigning on the fake claim that executive positions are increasing. Let's look at the facts.

When the Ratepayers of Port Phillip (ROPP) launched their attack on Council staff numbers and remuneration a few weeks ago via leaflets in our letterboxes and gigantic roadside billboards, they did so with this offensive question: How many Council staff does it take to change a light globe?

This, a poor joke indeed, in the middle of a pandemic, when as a community we need to do everything possible to preserve local jobs.  Council staff are providing the local community services we all rely on, especially in this time of crisis. They are maintaining our open spaces, cleaning our beaches and streets, looking after mothers and babies, providing support to residents aged or disabled, staffing our libraries, repairing our footpaths, educating and caring for children in our council childcare centres, processing and issuing planning and building permits, or rescuing cats and dogs who have strayed from home.

Council jobs are local jobs worth defending.

Yes, some Council staff do indeed work as managers, as team leaders, as co-ordinators of service areas. And while excess management is always undesirable, ROPP is wildly off the mark when they claim: ‘Port Phillip Council is increasing executive management staff during a once-in-a-generation pandemic and economic recession.’ (ROPP election leaflet)

The facts are very different. An organisational restructure in the middle of 2020 produced ‘a reduction from five to four General Managers resulting in a projected net reduction of 8 FTE (full time equivalent staff) including five Senior Officer/ Senior Executive Officer roles and some redesigning of vacant roles. The Executive Leadership Team and Leadership Network will be reduced from 30 positions to 25.’ (CEO Report Issue 68, Agenda Item to Council 5 August 2020), p24.

What is more, staffing levels overall are not ballooning. In 2020/21 FTE staff number 818 (not 850 as claimed in the ROPP election leaflet), compared with 880 in 2019/20 – a reduction of 62 positions. As a result, the staffing budget will come down from $95.84m in 2019/20 to $92.37m in 2020/21, a saving of $3.5m. (City of Port Phillip Council Plan 2017-27. Year 4 - Revised August 2020), p144, p234.

How does the City of Port Phillip compare with neighbouring councils on the percentage of Council expenditure spent on staffing?

Here again ROPP gets it wrong when they claim that Port Phillip spends more than neighbouring Councils. On figures taken from recently published 2020/21 Council budgets, it is clear that while there is some variation, Port Phillip is not spending more proportionally on staffing costs than other inner urban councils.





Glen Eira




Port Phillip


Hobsons Bay


A slick joke about light globes is no substitute for the facts. ROPP candidates will be answerable to the citizens for their Trumpian disregard for truth by spreading misinformation in this way.