Leaked documents reveal alleged $170m council cash stash

CLAIMS $170 million in ratepayer money has been stashed in secret accounts are among the allegations in an explosive leaked email to Fraser Coast Mayor Chris Loft.

Rogue Cairns MP Rob Pyne, who previously leaked a confidential report on the Fraser Coast council's internal review, tabled the email in Queensland Parliament this week.

The email, sent from an official address with the signature "acting CEO" on May 23 this year, was attached to a letter from a former council staffer whose name has been blacked out.

The council's interim CEO on that date was Ray Burton.

In it, the then acting CEO says he is responding to the mayor's request to submit a report on the "matters I have found concerning the management of this organisation".

They include allegations, "in excess of $10 million was transferred at the end of the year from surplus funds to reserve accounts without councillors' knowledge".

"Council has around $170m in different Reserve Accounts - it appears Councillors do not have a clear understanding of this," the document alleges.

"The Reserve Accounts have been set up in some cases without Councillor knowledge with no strategy around purpose and no Council decision around allocation to or from the Reserves".

The email goes on to allege "Council's rating strategy provided for grossly inequitable burden on the CBD property owners in Maryborough" and refers to an internal "bullying culture".

Maryborough CBD ratepayers were given significant discounts of up to 30% in last month's council budget.

Allegations of bullying within council ranks were previously pointed to in the internal review and have since been addressed, with the council adopting a raft of recommendations to improve council culture earlier this year.

Other allegations in the leaked email however, including the alleged $170 million stash and "approval of tenders regardless of dollar value", had not yet been made public.

Mr Pyne's decision to table the email comes as the Crime and Corruption Commission continues its investigation into the council.

While the scope of the investigation has not been disclosed, the council's recently appointed CEO Ken Diehm said he was "deeply saddened" by the timing.

"Council staff have endured significant turmoil and unrest during the last year and we are now in the process of rebuilding the organisation," Mr Diehm said.

"The matters raised are the subject of investigations and I ask the Member for Cairns, Rob Pyne, to let the Department of Local Government and the Crime and Corruption Commis- sion to do their jobs.

"The leaking of the document and tabling of the document while the investigation is underway has added nothing to the investigation and only served to create turmoil."

The Chronicle attempted to contact Mr Pyne and the CCC but responses had not been received at the time of going to press.

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