From the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor

Travel Bulletin - - CONTENTS - Bruce Piper

The much-an­tic­i­pated re­lease of the fi­nal Travel Com­pen­sa­tion Fund re­port late last month con­tained a num­ber of in­trigu­ing rev­e­la­tions which per­haps give an in­di­ca­tion as to why it took such a long time to pro­duce. Given the large amount of money con­trib­uted to the now de­funct TCF by the in­dus­try over the years, it has been of keen in­ter­est to travel agents want­ing to find out just what hap­pened to it all. While the fi­nal out­come in­di­cates that pre­dictably most of the funds - some $19.5 mil­lion - ended up back in the con­sol­i­dated rev­enue pock­ets of the var­i­ous state gov­ern­ments, the TCF Trus­tees have also ap­par­ently been in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of some former se­nior staff. The re­port from chair­per­son Fiona Mcleod cov­ers the pe­riod from 1st Jan­uary 2015 right through to 31st Au­gust 2016 - con­firm­ing that rather than the orig­i­nal timetable which would have seen the TCF close at the end of last year the Trus­tees de­cided to ex­tend the Trust Deed for six months, un­til 30 June 2016 “to al­low for com­ple­tion of fi­nal out­stand­ing le­gal, in­sur­ance and em­ploy­ment mat­ters”. That dead­line was fur­ther ex­tended by an­other two months, un­til the end of Au­gust this year - and there are still a num­ber of “resid­ual mat­ters” which have now been handed off to the NSW De­part­ment of Fair Trad­ing. In­ter­est­ingly it also ap­pears the wind-up was overseen not by se­nior TCF ex­ec­u­tives but rather by a Trustee man­age­ment com­mit­tee, set up af­ter the July 2015 res­ig­na­tion of the former TCF chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. With­out specif­i­cally de­tail­ing what hap­pened, it ap­pears there have been sig­nif­i­cant ruc­tions within the TCF ranks, with the fi­nan­cial re­port con­firm­ing the Fund had “been in dis­pute with two se­nior staff over al­leged con­duct and em­ploy­ment con­tract breaches”. “Both staff were stood down pend­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions and both re­signed in July 2015 and as a result nei­ther were paid re­dun­dan­cies,” the re­port states, with one staff mem­ber sub­se­quently lodg­ing an un­fair dis­missal com­plaint which was dis­missed by the Fair Work Com­mis­sion. “The par­ties have since been in dis­pute over al­leged over­pay­ments made and leave and other pay­ments due to the two now-former staff mem­bers,” the re­port con­tin­ues, with one dis­pute still out­stand­ing and recorded as a con­tin­gent li­a­bil­ity in the fi­nal TCF ac­counts. The out­come is an un­for­tu­nate foot­note to the work of the TCF, which Mcleod noted had for al­most 30 years been “an im­por­tant and suc­cess­ful part of Aus­tralia’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion land­scape”.

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