Austin Evans says he had no involvement in council contract for The Articulate Pear

Nationals candidate for Murray and former Murrumbidgee Council administrator Austin Evans says he had nothing to do with a Murrumbidgee Council decision to award a near $100,000 contract to the wife of former member for Murray Adrian Piccoli. 

The Australian reported on Tuesday The Articulate Pear,  a company run by Mr Piccoli’s wife Sonia Casanova, was awarded a contract to develop and consult on a new logo for the council.

Mr Evans was Murrumbidgee Council administrator at the time.

“In awarding the contract, council staff followed industry standard procurement processes and four companies were considered in the merit-based competitive evaluation,” Mr Evans said.

“The final decision was made by staff, and the staff also judged that there was not a conflict of interest.

“I became aware after the decision was made, and it was presented in the council business papers in August last year."

The new logo was unveiled by Murrumbidgee Council in January 2017. 

Murrumbidgee Council general manager Craig Moffitt also said Mr Evans had nothing to do with the decision and refuted claims undue influence was involved. 

“This process was undertaken following normal procurement processes,” he said.

“The proposal submitted by The Articulate Pear was evaluated against set criteria and the company demonstrated the experience and capacity to develop and provide an appropriate, relevant corporate identity for Murrumbidgee Council”.

Shooters Fishers and Farmers MP Robert Borsak told The Australian,  “this whole thing stinks and looks like a job for the boys or girls”. 

Adrian Piccoli was quoted as saying “the Shooters Party and anyone associated with the smear better have very good lawyers and very deep pockets because I have got both”.

In a council media release, Ms Casanova said “we are thrilled to present this new corporate branding for Murrumbidgee Council. It is contemporary, distinctive and relevant to the community”. 

Mr Evans said, "the Shooters are running the nastiest campaign in Murray’s history”.

“I put my hand up for election, and I’m fair game, but for the Shooters to go after the wife of the former member with smear that has been shown to be unfounded proves the kind of dirty politics they’re playing.”