The military man turned executive

PHIL Pearce arrived in Newcastle with high praise, after being credited with encouraging investment as the head of Shepparton City Council in Victoria.

Local government was a mid-career change for Mr Pearce, who started out in his working life as an apprentice carpenter before later joining the army.

He spent more than 20 years in uniform, eventually rising to an officer’s rank and the chief of staff of the logistical support force.

Mr Pearce spent six years as the chief executive officer of Mildura council before moving to Shepparton and eventually to Newcastle, where he signed a five-year contract that reportedly earned him $350,000 a year.

As the replacement for Lindy Hyam, Mr Pearce inherited a council with deep political divisions.

He walked into Newcastle at the height of the Laman Street fig tree crisis, and one of his first acts was to set aside a resolution of the elected council in an attempt to resolve  the bitter debate.

His resignation comes just a few months after he took emergency action to halt a budget slide by implementing a staffing freeze, and after he had announced a long-term financial plan to source $255million through cutting costs and also raising additional revenue.

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