FOR­MER COUN­CIL CLEARED

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

THE for­mer Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil has been cleared of any crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity by the Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (CCC), which fi­nalised in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the or­gan­i­sa­tion this week. On Mon­day, the CCC ad­vised there was no ev­i­dence that for­mer or cur­rent Coun­cil em­ploy­ees com­mit­ted crim­i­nal of­fences with re­spect to over­spends on the 2010 Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Re­lief and Re­cov­ery Ar­range­ments (NDRRA) pro­gram.

THE for­mer Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil has been cleared of any crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity by the Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (CCC), which fi­nalised in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the or­gan­i­sa­tion this week.

On Mon­day, the CCC ad­vised there was no ev­i­dence that for­mer or cur­rent Coun­cil em­ploy­ees com­mit­ted crim­i­nal of­fences with re­spect to over­spends on the 2010 Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Re­lief and Re­cov­ery Ar­range­ments (NDRRA) pro­gram. There was also no ev­i­dence to support al­le­ga­tions of fraud or breach­ing of loan con­di­tions and Coun­cil pol­icy.

For­mer mayor Mike Brunker has long been ea­ger to clear his coun­cil’s name and he is now call­ing on the cur­rent mayor, Jen­nifer Whit­ney to re­sign, or for the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter David Crisafulli to sack her.

Nonethe­less both Cr Whit- ney and Min­is­ter Crisafulli say the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s find­ings don’t change the fi­nan­cial po­si­tion this Coun­cil found it­self in and that there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween crim­i­nal­ity and in­com­pe­tence.

“You can run a business and not run it well, or you can run a business and have crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, where some­one’s taken things or done some­thing de­lib­er­ately, and what [the CCC are] say­ing is that hasn’t oc­curred,” Cr Whit­ney said.

“The CCC are say­ing there’s no crim­i­nal­ity, it’s just lack of gov­er­nance.”

Like­wise, Min­is­ter Crisafulli said there was “gross in­com­pe­tence... on Mike’s watch”.

“Money was spent that was not en­ti­tled to be spent and this wasn’t state-wide. This was the stand-out Coun­cil for do­ing the wrong thing – the worst in the state – and ei­ther it was done crim­i­nally or it was done neg­li­gently,” he said.

“I’m de­lighted that there’s no crim­i­nal be­hav­iour but it’s not a tick on the way it was ad­min­is­tered.”

Mr Brunker has been quick to re­spond to th­ese ac­cu­sa­tions say­ing “cleared means cleared”.

“If we’re so in­com­pe­tent, I chal­lenge him [Crisafulli] to let us sit down with him and his of­fi­cers and we’ll work out th­ese claims of so-called over­spends,” he said.

Fur­ther­more, Mr Brunker says Cr Whit­ney owes it to the re­gion’s ratepay­ers to go back to Bris­bane and claim $40mil­lion back.

“If we had a mayor with half an ounce of go, she’d be down there say­ing, ‘the over-spends are ac­count­able, we want the money back’,” he said.

“And if the mayor’s not pre­pared to do it, we’ll do it, we’ll get the money back – we’ve got all our facts and fig­ures – that’s what we gave to the CMC.”

For­mer Whit­sun­day Mayor Mike Brunker

Whit­sun­day Re­gional Coun­cil Mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney.

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