PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council's general manager believes the organisation is functioning effectively despite the most targeted claims yet made by the mayor that it has lost its way.
Mr Swift-McNair said his resignation has been in the works for some time and has nothing to do with allegations made by mayor Peta Pinson at the June 3 council meeting, that the elected body was dysfunctional and toxic and no longer working for the public good.
"The organisation is functioning incredibly effectively and that's what a general manager's key role is," Mr Swift McNair said on whether he will be leaving the house in order on his departure.
"The functionality of the elected body, or otherwise, is not something a smart GM makes any public comment about.
"I think the evidence is sitting there in the way our region is moving forward."
Mr Swift-McNair would not be drawn on allegations of bullying made by the mayor. He would also not comment on whether he believed the mayor's request the Minister for Local Government intervene, or call any early election, is necessary.
"We have been working through relationship issues with the mayor and other councillors as we would with any other body that gets together and tries to make a whole series of difficult and important decisions," he said.
Mr Swift-McNair said, as agreed in the resolution of council, he will now proceed to seek expert and independent professional support to explore some of those "relationship issues".
"There are deep divisions in many councils for many reasons over many issues. It's about adults and humans getting on with one another and having that connectedness to work together to achieve something for the region.
"And we will work through this process as we would with anything else."
READ HOW THE JUNE 3 MEETING PLAYED OUT: Mayor calls out council's "warring faction" but fails in push for early election
The achievements of the council under his leadership should not be overshadowed and Mr Swift-McNair said there is a lot to celebrate.
"In the last five years we have delivered between $310 to $320 million worth of works on the ground and that's a remarkable effort for a regional council of our size," he said.
"The fact we have, ignoring the pandemic we are now coming out of, such a booming local economy is not necessarily anything to do with me but it's about how we have worked with the community and the business community over a long period of time."
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council was awarded the prestigious AR Bluett Award in 2017 as the most progressive council in the state.
"For the staff body that was an enormous achievement and something that we should all be very proud of. And I think just generally you only have to drive around and look at our region to understand how impactful a council can actually be."
Mr Swift-McNair will take up the role of general manager at Woollahra Municipal Council in Sydney.
Over the next month his main focus will be on finalising priorities, initiatives and actions to come from the community led COVID-19 Recovery Working Group, with a report due to the July 15 council meeting covering these key issues.
"I did not take this decision lightly, however having been the general manager of a large and successful regional council, I was keen to further my local government career in a metropolitan council and I am very excited to be joining the team at Woollahra," he said.
"I have enjoyed my time at council, which dates back to 2003 originally and I have appreciated the opportunities the organisation and local government in general has provided me with over the years.
"I am also very grateful for the experience of having been able to be the general manager of PMHC, but with the arrival of a new general manager comes new ideas and fresh approaches, and it is always good to refresh an organisation.
"I will miss the staff at council enormously, as they have continued to deliver for the community through thick or thin, and have supported me during my entire career and I thank them sincerely for that.
"I wish the mayor, councillors and staff every success for the future, and as I will be remaining a ratepayer of the region, I will be watching developments from afar."
His appointment followed the dismissal of former general manager Tony Hayward - a decision made after a unanimous vote of the then council.
Mr Swift-McNair returned to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council as the corporate and business services director in early 2012 after a two-year stint at Greater Taree City Council.
He had earlier worked at Port Macquarie-Hastings Council as manager of business services.
Mr Swift-McNair led council's renamed commercial services and industry engagement division with responsibilities spanning economic development and tourism, The Glasshouse, environmental laboratory, business services and financial services.
That contract was to take his position as GM through until March 2024 with a renumeration package totalling $350,487.
Mr Swift-McNair's review recorded a high level of satisfaction with his performance.
The recommendation to renew the general manager's contract was supported by all councillors except for Cr Sharon Griffiths and mayor Peta Pinson.
Mayor Pinson formally accepted the general manager's resignation on June 3, before the explosive council meeting where she made serious allegations about some of her elected peers.
"I also accept his decision to further his career in local government and wish him well in his new position in Woollahra Municipal Council," she said.
Mr Swift-McNair received praise and thanks for the elected body for his leadership and commitment.
"I wish the general manager all the best in his new role and thank him for the tireless effort and commitment to our community that most people don't see," Cr Lee Dixon said.
Cr Rob Turner said the general manager will leave a proud legacy behind.
"I'd like to thank Craig Swift-McNair for his energy and dedication during his time as general manager, and pay tribute to the professional and collegial working relationship we enjoyed," Cr Turner said.
"He's been a valuable asset for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and I know he'll be missed. Being appointed the general manager of Woollahra Council is a great opportunity and I know Craig will do an outstanding job.
"On the one hand I will be disappointed to see him go, but on the other, we now have the opportunity to recruit a new general manager to continue to lead Port Macquarie-Hastings Council into the next stage of an exciting future.
"Craig will leave behind the proud legacy of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council winning the Bluett Award for best council in NSW in 2017. I unreservedly wish him all the best."
Deputy mayor Cr Lisa Intemann said the general manager's departure will be a great loss.
"Craig is a first class general manager and he has done a tremendous job for council and the community," Cr Intemann said.
"His departure is a tremendous loss, but of course I wish him all the very best in his new role and future. An acting general manager will be appointed while we undertake the recruitment process."
Cr Geoff Hawkins said Mr Swift-McNair was always a top performing GM and will be a great loss.
"However, none of us is irreplaceable and we will find a replacement and his good work will continue."
The next step will involve the mayor and councillors commencing the process of firstly appointing an acting general manager from within the organisation, then undergoing a recruitment process for a new permanent general manager.
What else is making news?
Thank you for valuing local journalism with your subscription. While you're with us, you can also receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.