News

CEO accused of misleading Gympie council

A Gympie regional councillor has accused CEO Bernard Smith of misleading councillors and has himself been accused of running a 'vendetta'
A Gympie regional councillor has accused CEO Bernard Smith of misleading councillors and has himself been accused of running a 'vendetta' Hienee Pilcher

ALL but two Gympie region councillors have voted to keep themselves in the dark on an alleged million-dollar-plus purge of top council staff since 2012.

The vote followed a claim CEO Bernard Smith misled councillors on the issue last month.

Cr Wayne Sachs accused his colleague Ian Petersen of running a "vendetta" against Mr Smith and said the public interest would not be served by any revelation of the extent of confidential payouts for former employees, as sought by Cr Petersen.

Cr Petersen said councillors were neglecting their duty if they did not inform themselves and perform "prudent financial management."

He referred to the Willan Inquiry into Port Macquarie-Hastings council in 2008, when Mr Smith was its general manager.

It led to the dismissal of all councillors for inadequate cost supervision, being "misled," failing "to demand staff provide information," accepting "a very restricted view of (their) role" and not showing "prudent management."

Commissioner Willan said Port Macquarie-Hastings councillors had "demonstrated little interest in obtaining information regarding issues being dealt with by the group and did not attempt to seek out this information.

"Councillors were misled (on financial issues). The elected body did not demand staff provide support information to make a considered decision.

"Council, represented by both the councillors and staff failed to demonstrate adequate diligence when dealing with the financial management of the project... failed to impose adequate financial controls and excused their failures on the basis that financial issues were 'operational issues' falling outside their role."

Cr Petersen said Gympie councillors who did not keep abreast of financial matters were "at great risk."

"We cannot be expected to take responsibility when we have information withheld or are fed misleading information," he said.

"These confidentiality agreements are not between the ex-employee and the CEO. They are between the ex-employee and the council. Legally we are party to those agreements.

"We are at great risk if we are oblivious to their contents. But even more importantly, we are not fulfilling our obligation to our community if we fail to oversight governance and financial matters. Ignorance is no excuse.

"If we do not have sufficient information we are required to seek it. This is imperative if we are to discharge our obligations under the Local Government Act.

"I am aware of people who have left the council service, under agreements involving confidentiality and ex gratia severance payments.

"You can play semantics all you want," he said.

Cr Sachs said he was concerned at "a hidden agenda".

"It's a vendetta against the CEO," he said.

Mayor Mick Curran told Cr Petersen he had "recourse" if he felt the council had been misled and Cr Petersen said: "Yes, and I'm taking it."

Asked after the meeting if this would involve a complaint to the Local Government Department, Cr Petersen said he did not think he could comment.

Seconding Cr Petersen's motion, Deputy Mayor Larry Friske said councillors had to take responsibility.

"You can talk about operational and policy matters until you are blue in the face, but councillors are responsible for governance and finance," he said.
 

Gympie Times


Foodies' scavenger hunt: are you up for it?

IF YOU want to give your tastebuds the flavour sensations of a lifetime, here is the ultimate foodie’s scavenger hunt through Brisbane.

5 minutes with Israel Folau on footy, life and love

Israel Folau and Silver Fern netballer Maria Tutaia announced their engagement last last year.

WE CAUGHT up with football star and Brisbane ex-pat Israel Folau.

10 reasons to head to South Bank this summer

Head to the only inner-city beach in Australia!

South Bank has a ridiculous amount of fun things to do.

Five mammoth events you need in your life

No Caption

BRISBANE isn’t known for doing things by halves…

How to make your child's every dream come true...

Take a dip at South Bank in the inner-city beach.

‘I DON’T want to do fun things, Mum and Dad’… said no child ever!

How to do Eat Street the right way

Know where to start and where to end to avoid a huge food coma before you get to experience all the goodies!

EVERY Friday and Saturday night, Hamilton comes alive.

You can do WHAT in Brisbane?!

Talk about arriving in style! Take your pub crawl to the next level with a helicopter!

BET you didn't know you could do these things in Brisbane...

Invisible threat adds burn to heatwave

You can't feel it or see it but UV radiation is what's causing sunburn and it's at extreme levels.

UV radiation more than five times safe limit during heatwave

What the bunya pine trees says about upcoming rain

ANCIENT WISDOM: Len Carlson says the nut harvest from his Mooloo property's bunya pines has been a remarkably good guide to west season rainfall over his 62 years growing crops in the area.

Veteran crop farmer Len Carlson says trees tell the story

Employers: Are you ready for the backpacker tax?

FARM WORK: Backpacker wages are now taxed at 15%, and employers have been asked to register with the ATO to ensure a smooth transition.

There's one thing you need to do by January 31

Local Partners

Nicole reveals her biggest parenting challenges

Actress Nicole Kidman.

Nicole Kidman says her kids are ‘deeply attuned' to her moods.

Suicide Squad director reveals his regrets about the film

Margot Robbie in a scene from the movie Suicide Squad.

DIRECTOR of superhero flick on what he’d change about ‘flawed’ film.

Meet the new Marco on MasterChef Australia: Yotam Ottolenghi

Israeli-born, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi will be a guest chef for a week on the 2017 season of MasterChef Australia.

AFTER Marco’s defection to Seven, MasterChef signs a true food hero.

Big Bang spin-off to be about kid Sheldon

Jim Parsons in a scene from the TV series The Big Bang Theory.

Actor Jim Parsons has dished on an upcoming Big Bang Theory spin-off

How Adam Brand’s Nashville dream fell apart

Country music singer Adam Brand talks about how heartbreak stopped him chasing his Nashville dream.

SINGER reveals how heartbreak stopped him from chasing his dream.

What's on the small screen this week

Grant Denyer will host Channel 10's Australia Day concert from the Sydney Opera House.

STAR-studded Australia Day celebrations and fascinating docos.

Stockland's $150m pitch: Build it and they will come

Gladstone Marina. The Gladstone Regional Council offers a range of exciting job opportunities. Photo Contributed: Murray Ware.

Here's why we need to see Stockland upgrade start soon.

By the water's edge

Secure your seachange

Gympie attracts buyers looking for affordable seachange

Core Logic property statistics reveal the region's median house price dropped 3.4% to $269,000 in the September quarter.

Median house price drops 3.4% to $269,000 in the September quarter

HOT PROPERTY: Money to spend on land, buildings

File picture.

Sale, leasing of industrial real estate picks up in Mackay

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!