A LEAKED letter laying bare internal council frictions over the Douglas Aerospace loan fiasco only serves to build the case for timely public disclosure on the issue.
The letter, from Wagga mayor Rod Kendall to then-general manager Phil Pinyon, cites an external auditor’s report into the loan as a “smoking gun” into Mr Pinyon’s handling of the affair.
It accuses senior council management of failing to perform due diligence into the loan, exposing ratepayers to financial risk and draining councillor and management time.
Most damningly, Cr Kendall says the loan created a conflict of interest for council, which was thrust into the position of being financier, landlord and building regulator.
Mr Pinyon, the letters adds, failed to manage the loan closely enough and, in a staggering revelation, it claims two subsequent council resolutions into the loan were completely ignored by management.
Mr Pinyon resigned three days after receiving the letter.
The whole mess raises critical questions that strike to the heart of public accountability.
If Cr Kendall accepts there was such a glaring conflict of interest in the loan being approved, why did the council he was a part of approve it?
If Mr Pinyon failed so spectacularly in his role, why was he allowed to resign with a reportedly six-figure severance pay packet and not sacked?
Will other senior council managers face disciplinary action for their part in the bungled loan?
When will the external auditor’s report be released?
And how can the public have confidence that other major public money projects, such as RIFL, have been managed properly?
Documents shouldn’t have to be leaked for ratepayers to get information into how their money has been wasted.
There is only one way for this council to regain the public’s trust.
It must release the external auditor’s report as soon as possible and act swiftly and strongly on its findings.
New general manager Alan Eldridge has a reputation for being a “Mr Fix-it” to struggling organisations.
Here’s his chance to prove it.
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