Fox-force probe cost withheld
A GOVERNMENT department has refused to reveal how much it paid a consultant to investigate public service misconduct within the now defunct $40 million Fox Eradication Program.
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Wildlife and Environment launched a probe into possible breaches of the State Services Act after a tip-off from Tasmania Police.
The investigation centred on the only employee identified by police still working for DPIPWE but it was quietly disbanded after the employee suddenly resigned this year.
The State Government told Parliament that the investigation could not continue if the person was no longer employed. The employee is no longer under investigation department.
It revealed that former Justice Department secretary Simon Overland appointed a specialist consultant from the private sector to investigate.
DPIPWE declined to provide remuneration details to the Mercury or reveal how many former employees had been flagged by police.
Fox program critic MP Ivan by the Dean is furious the investigation ceased because of the resignation and has vowed to keep pushing the matter.
In 2016, police examined a dossier from Mr Dean alleging fox evidence collected around the state by the eradication program had been fabricated.
Police determined there was no criminal wrongdoing, but referred it to DPIPWE and the Integrity Commission be- cause of possible misconduct by employees attached to the program.
The Integrity Commission, which brought in a police officer on the fraud squad to carry out the investigation, is finalising its report.
The program, which sought to eradicate foxes from Tasmania, ran from the early 2000s to 2014 and failed to find a single live fox.