ICAC in move on Cessnock Council
The ICAC have upgraded their inquiry into Cessnock Council from the ‘preliminary’ inquiry announced in May this year to an inquiry I am led to believe is named ‘Gecko’.
As announced earlier this year the Cessnock Greens welcome the ICAC inquiry. The community of Cessnock deserve to have the full story and we hope that the ICAC makes public its findings once their inquiries are complete.
Pictured: Cessnock General Manager Lea Rosser.
by Joanne MacCarthy, Newcastle Herald, 4 October 2012
THE Independent Commission Against Corruption launched a pre-emptive strike in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday to protect Cessnock City Council general manager Lea Rosser from potential dismissal.
ICAC was granted orders stopping all councillors, including newly elected councillors, from taking any action against Ms Rosser at the first meeting of the new council last night, after the general manager was described as a “whistleblower” in the Sydney hearing before Justice Campbell.
The council consented to the orders.
ICAC is investigating allegations including that “certain councillors” at unspecified times in the council’s history had accepted benefits, released information and been influenced by developers. It is investigating the approval of particular development applications, tenders, leases and contracts.
Justice Campbell ordered the lifting of an injunction preventing some councillors from acting to sack Ms Rosser, and replaced it with the ICAC motion stopping the full council from taking any action against Ms Rosser until the matter returns to court on October 17.
The court action shifted carriage of the Supreme Court case away from council executive staff to ICAC.
Responsibility for instructing council’s legal team shifted from executive staff to elected councillors under new mayor Bob Pynsent because the whole council is the defendant under the new injunction.
The Supreme Court action was initiated by former mayor Alison Davey in March after moves by a majority of councillors to sack Ms Rosser over matters including lengthy absences from work. Ms Davey used mayoral powers under the Local Government Act to seek an injunction stopping the councillors after Ms Rosser made a protected disclosure to ICAC.
In the Supreme Court yesterday barrister Craig Leggat for Cessnock council said ICAC had “now taken on the role of protecting the whistleblower”.
Cr Pynsent said he was pleased the full council had been named defendants, giving power back to elected representatives to make decisions.