Council inquiry to conduct virtual interviews

Roslyn McCulloch, Independent Commissioner

The first and last weeks of September are expected to be used by the Commissioner of the Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council to conduct interviews and gather evidence.

Central Coast Council Administrator, Rik Hart, said Commissioner Roslyn McCulloch had been contacting people she wishes to speak with.

“She has some powers to compel people to provide information,” Hart said, adding that three reports produced by Council would stand as inquiry submissions.

“I did put in a submission in myself over and above those three reports.

“I felt because I am probably in a unique position as being an early CEO, I have a pretty good understanding of what has gone on inside the organisation so my submission may point out some aspects she may want to look at and questions she may want to ask.

“I would be more than happy to speak or be questioned.”

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown will change the way Commissioner McCulloch conducts the inquiry.

“In a normal situation, outside COVID, she would use the Council chamber; she would settle herself in down there and it would be a little bit like a courtroom, where she questions and you are on the ropes and you answer,” Hart said.

He said the normal process would be similar to a parliamentary estimates committee.

“Those requested to speak would be advised to answer honestly and to the best of your ability.”

At the August 10 Council meeting, the Administrator confirmed that Commissioner McCulloch would be forced to conduct hearings virtually but he did expect them to be webcast.

“The Commissioner is looking at doing those interviews in the first week of September and then the last week of September with a gap in between.”

Commissioner McCulloch’s earlier decision not to publish any of the 97 submissions received as part of the Inquiry was described by Hart as necessary.

“In this particular case I know the issue the Commissioner is struggling with is a large number of submissions contain things that are potentially libelous or defamatory so she can’t risk publishing them,” he said.

Jackie Pearson