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Editions

Places Victoria back on track

29 Apr 2013

Places Victoria back on track Image

By Bethany Williams

Places Victoria CEO Peter Seamer aims to put the embattled organisation back on a more positive footing during his six-month term.

Places Victoria’s tumultuous recent history, including board restructures and job cuts, has been well publicised.

Mr Seamer’s appointment as CEO in March followed the resignation of Sam Sangster from the position in November last year, after just a year in the role.

He’s currently the CEO of the Growth Areas Authority (GAA) and is on loan to Places Victoria to get the organisation back on track.

Although he’s not with Places Victoria for the long-term he hopes that his time with the organisation will result in it running a lot more smoothly.

“My job here is to put this organisation back on a far more dynamic and positive foot,” Mr Seamer said.

“It has got problems, but those problems are fixable, and it’s going to be a damn good organisation once I’m through.”

And with an extensive planning, engineering and management background, it seems he’s up to the job.

Mr Seamer has been CEO of a number of councils including Essendon, greater Bendigo, Whitehorse and Sydney. He was also the CEO of Federation Square during its construction and first few years of operation and is currently the CEO of the GAA.

While balancing two CEO positions might seem like a difficult job, Mr Seamer said he had a great team at GAA who made it possible for him to commit time to Places Victoria.

He said he was currently spending about 90 per cent of his time with Places Victoria.

Mr Seamer said when he left the organisation he’d like it to be a smaller but much stronger organisation.

He said one of his key priorities was getting the organisation to a point where it could afford its staff costs, which had been high.

He also mentioned that Places Victoria had some write-downs in terms of its bottom line and that these would be announced in the coming months.

According to Mr Seamer, the organisation’s problem areas were not within its Docklands department.

“The Docklands portfolio is very separate from the rest of the organisation be we have come into problems with spending too much money and not making enough money on infill projects,” Mr Seamer said.

While the organisation’s recent history has been tumultuous, Mr Seamer said things had now settled down.

“I want to create a management environment where people can get on with the job and not get distracted by politics, restructures, new boards, ex-chairman, new chairman,” Mr Seamer said.

Restructures have included the whittling down of the board of directors, which is now down from nine members to just four.

The current board is comprised of chairperson Ken Fehily, David Webster, Graeme Parton and William Bowness.

And the organisation is set for more changes in the near future with Mr Seamer confirming it was likely to move from its current home at the Goods Shed on
Collins St.

“I would prefer not to be in this building, because basically we’re not a big enough organisation,” Mr Seamer said.

“We’re looking at moving, I’d like to move into Docklands somewhere else,” he said.

Mr Seamer said there was nothing keeping the organisation in the Goods Shed, but a time-frame for the move would depend on the management of the financial arrangements.

According to Mr Seamer, Places Victoria aims to have a new CEO in place by September 1 and will advertise the position in due course.

Mr Seamer said the aim was to have Places Victoria fully operational and successful by the time the new CEO started.

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