From the managing editor
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”.