Len­non says claims ap­proved

Shepparton News - Country News - - OMBUDSMAN’S G-MW REPORT -

Pat Len­non has de­fended his al­lowances and ex­pense claims dur­ing his time as Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, fol­low­ing an ad­verse re­port from the Vic­to­rian Om­buds­man.

The om­buds­man crit­i­cised Mr Len­non for claim­ing items of fur­ni­ture in a $20 000 re­lo­ca­tion al­lowance and for the work ex­penses he claimed, in­clud­ing seek­ing re­im­burse­ments for al­co­hol, in his two years with the wa­ter author­ity.

Mr Len­non told Coun­try News all his work ex­pense claims were ap­proved by the for­mer G-MW chair, Jo An­der­son, and there was no pro­hi­bi­tion on the pur­chase of al­co­hol for events such as board din­ners and for pro­fes­sional meet­ings.

He said he used his Mel­bourne house for ac­com­mo­da­tion in 75 per cent of his overnight Mel­bourne busi­ness meet­ings, which saved the cor­po­ra­tion thou­sands of dol­lars.

Mr Len­non said the re­lo­ca­tion al­lowance was agreed in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Ms An­der­son, be­fore his em­ploy­ment, so this be­came part of the con­tract.

He had dis­cussed a pack­age worth about $400 000, but was pre­pared to take the lower, fi­nally agreed fig­ure, if the one-off re­lo­ca­tion amount was pro­vided.

‘‘I be­lieve she agreed to the ar­range­ment be­cause she wanted to save the author­ity money in the long term, and it did,’’ Mr Len­non said.

‘‘To in­crease my TRP (to­tal re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­age) would have been an in­creased cost over five years in­stead of a one-off pay­ment.’’

He be­lieved the om­buds­man’s un­ease with the re­lo­ca­tion pay­ment was the main rea­son he be­came a tar­get for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

‘‘How could these peo­ple, who were not present for the ne­go­ti­a­tions and the agree­ment, have a prob­lem with it? It was an agreed con­tract,’’ Mr Len­non said.

He said he had no an­i­mos­ity to­wards the chair and the board.

‘‘Jo was an hon­est per­son who was try­ing to do the best for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.’’

He said the al­co­hol used for the din­ners was mod­er­ate and av­er­aged two to three stan­dard drinks per per­son. He de­nied that guide­lines the om­buds­man de­scribed about al­co­hol ex­pen­di­ture ap­plied to him. Din­ner ex­penses, he said, av­er­aged $61 per per­son.

Mr Len­non pur­sued a claim for a liv­ing-away-from-home al­lowance as part of a salary sac­ri­fice ar­range­ment af­ter he said he had ad­vice from two recog­nised au­thor­i­ties that he was en­ti­tled to that.

He said the om­buds­man had not chal­lenged the way he had run G-MW or any other as­pect of his per­for­mance in the job.

For­mer G-MW man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Pat Len­non.

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