Council finds itself in further debt
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has been slugged with another $10.8million debt due to the findings of an independent report into the 2009 National Disaster Relief Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) program.
As per the multi-million dollar debt incurred from the NDRRA program of 2010, the report, conducted by Mackaybased company Aurecon, found 2009 included out of scope and ineligible works.
However, Councillors Jennifer Whitney and Jan Clifford were part of a whistleblowing trip to Townsville where concerns about the pro- gram spend were raised with the former State Government.
At last Wednesday’s Council meeting in Bowen it was revealed that in 2009, the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) found there was “no case to answer” and the matter was dismissed.
Cr Whitney said she personally travelled to Brisbane on January 20 and “categorically told the minister” that Council could not afford this additional debt and did not believe it was warranted under the circumstances.
She said Council was prepared to “fight this to the bone”.
Cr Clifford agreed saying that if the concerns had been acted upon at the time, this wouldn’t be happening.
“I also contend that had our concerns been listened to, then perhaps they would have kept a closer eye on future works as well [but] all that Cr Whitney and I got for our trouble was bullying, harassment, threats and our [lives] made a bloody misery.”
Cr Clifford said she was glad this had all now come to light.
“[Because] for all of you that say, well you were there, what did you do? Now you know what we did – we did everything humanly possible to pull this up on behalf of the ratepayers in the region and we were ridiculed and told there is no case to answer.”
Cr John Collins also weighed into the debate saying Council could not afford to “cop another hit” that would set the region back a further 12-18 months.
Cr Whitney said quite simply “we have paid our dues with 2010 and we cannot afford to pay anything with 2009”.
She said Council would be taking a very strong stance and would “not lie down on this”.