Om­buds­man finds fail­ings in sys­tem

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

A re­port re­leased by the Vic­to­rian Om­buds­man found for­mer Goul­burn-Mur­ray Wa­ter manag­ing di­rec­tor Pat Len­non claimed, which for­mer chair Jo An­der­son ap­proved, re­im­burse­ment to which he was not en­ti­tled.

Tabling her in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of im­proper con­duct by of­fi­cers at G-MW in the Vic­to­rian Par­lia­ment last Wed­nes­day, om­buds­man Deb­o­rah Glass said her in­ves­ti­ga­tion ex­posed fail­ings with in­di­vid­u­als and the sys­tems which sup­port them.

Ms Glass said the con­duct of the for­mer manag­ing di­rec­tor, who claimed about $40 000 in ex­penses, while on a $380 000-plus an­nual salary, and the chair, who ap­proved all the manag­ing di­rec­tor’s claims, was in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘To a com­mu­nity fac­ing years of hard­ship be­cause of the drought and the dairy cri­sis, this con­duct seems par­tic­u­larly out of line with pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions,’’ she said.

Her in­ves­ti­ga­tion found the manag­ing di­rec­tor claimed and the chair ap­proved:

● Re­im­burse­ment for al­most $20 000 of house­hold as­sets, in­clud­ing a high-end bar­be­cue, to set up the manag­ing di­rec­tor’s Shep­par­ton home af­ter he moved from Mel­bourne to take up the role.

● A liv­ing-away-from-home al­lowance, which pro­vided him with an $11 000 tax break. The manag­ing di­rec­tor’s on­go­ing pur­suit of this tax break led G-MW to spend more than $17 000 on le­gal/ ac­count­ing fees to de­ter­mine his el­i­gi­bil­ity.

● More than $21 000 worth of ex­penses in 13 months for meals and drinks, in­clud­ing al­co­hol and ho­tel stays in Mel­bourne. This was de­spite G-MW’s board pol­icy for di­rec­tor re­im­burse­ment mak­ing it clear claimable.

Ms Glass made seven rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prove­ment. All have been ac­cepted by the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties.

G-MW chair Diane James wel­comed the re­lease of the find­ings.

‘‘G-MW has al­ready put in place mea­sures to ad­dress the is­sues raised by the Om­buds­man and has ac­cepted all of the rec­om­men­da­tions made in the re­port,’’ she said.

‘‘This in­cludes a re­view, al­ready un­der way, into rel­e­vant poli­cies and pro­ce­dures to en­sure the is­sues raised in this re­port are be­ing ad­dressed.

‘‘We have fully co­op­er­ated with this in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which was trig­gered af­ter a G-MW em­ployee raised con­cerns with the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties.

‘‘What has oc­curred is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able and I’m sure the com­mu­nity will be ap­palled at the find­ings in the Om­buds­man’s re­port de­tail­ing con­duct which will be well be­low com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions.

‘‘There are many peo­ple in these com­mu­ni­ties do­ing it tough and they will be rightly out­raged by these find­ings, which is why we’re seek­ing le­gal ad­vice on how we can re­coup any ex­penses in­cor­rectly ap­proved.

‘‘The re­lease of the Om­buds­man’s re­port is tes­ta­ment to the fact that all G-MW em­ploy­ees, no mat­ter their po­si­tion, are held to these same stan­dards of con­duct.

‘‘The G-MW board of di­rec­tors moved swiftly and de­ci­sively in deal­ing with this mat­ter.’’ al­co­hol was not

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.