Axings, suspensions after serious allegations in council

ALLEGATIONS of serious wrongdoing have triggered a series of dismissals and suspensions inside a key department in the Brisbane City Council.

A whistleblower tells City Beat that the "compliance and regulatory services'' division, known as CARS, has been rocked by claims of rorting, bullying and nepotism over the past year. Internal investigations are under way.

The division, which enforces laws on parking, animal management, footpath dining, abandoned vehicles and more, has developed such a toxic workplace culture that staffers routinely complain to members of the Council.

It's understood a spike in the costs of staffing and overtime has also resulted in a budget blowout in the order of $2 million.

Our contact, whose explosive information was verified by other insiders, revealed that two top CARS managers had their contracts terminated. They have both moved on since then to other public service roles in the state.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner

"Additionally, within the last couple of months, six further senior CARS salary staff have been suspended on full pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation into alleged overtime rorting, bullying and cronyism,'' he said.

"All six of those suspended held managerial appointments. The matters being investigated also include alleged placement of friends and partners into key appointments.

"Other staff were stood down for a variety of reasons but the most serious included employment of friends and partners into unadvertised appointments and overtime payments for work allegedly not undertaken. Most of that overtime involved special events and parking.''

The alleged trespasses are so egregious that it's believed a referral was made to the Crime and Corruption Commission. A CCC spin doctor declined to comment on whether or not a probe is under way.

A media minder for Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and the rest of his council team was tight-lipped, refusing to provide a detailed response to a series of questions.

"Brisbane City Council prides itself on the high standards required of its staff,'' he said.

"When these standards are not met, appropriate action is taken. Council does not comment further on matters relating to the employment of its staff.''

But Councillor Jared Cassidy described the numerous allegations as "disturbing'' and said he would welcome a probe by the CCC.

"If there are senior staff that could be described as having engaged in corrupt behaviour, that needs to be investigated,'' he said.

 

PREMIER'S MUM

She was a small and poorly-educated woman of Irish heritage who worked hard all her life and had six kids, one of whom grew up to become the Premier of Queensland.

Norma Josephine Goss passed away last weekend in Brisbane at the ripe old age of 90, still living at home, still driving her car, still socialising with friends and still in full control of her mental faculties.

Her son, Wayne Goss, won the state's top job in 1989 after Labor had spent 32 years in the political wilderness, much of it chafing under Joh's corrupt and iron-fisted rule. He died in 2014.

Norma Goss
Norma Goss

Born in Melbourne in 1929, Norma was one of three kids whose parents both died early on and she only attended school through Grade 7.

After settling down in Inala with her hubby, Allan, the couple ran a general store which included a barber shop out back. They later started a local newspaper and delicatessen.

The pair were old school, the kind of people who knew the names of their customers and were pillars of their community.

Ironically, despite her lack of higher education, Norma was a passionate advocate of learning and we hear robust political debate around the dinner table was a hallmark of the family home.

A private celebration of her life will be held at 3pm on October 4 at the West Chapel of Mt Thompson Memorial Park in Holland Park.