Council Public Inquiry hearings over but no timeframe for report

Roslyn McCullochRoslyn McCulloch is conducting the Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council.

The Public Inquiry into Central Coast Council will go back to its not-so-public position behind closed doors as both public and private hearings have now concluded.

The Office of the Commissioner confirmed on Wednesday, October 20, that private hearings have also concluded.

“The Commissioner has determined not to publish the names, or the transcripts of persons interviewed in private,” the Office said.

The Commissioner, Roslyn McCulloch, said after the last witness gave their evidence on Tuesday, October 19, that her final report would be handed down as soon as possible but she gave no indication of the time frame.

She has given submission writers and those who gave oral evidence a deadline of November 3 to submit any responses to the evidence heard at the hearings.

“From here, the inquiry will obtain further documentary information which has arisen from the evidence we have received during the public hearings,” McCulloch said.

“Once that documentation and the submissions in reply are received, a report will be prepared and provided to the Minister for Local Government to be considered,” she said.

“It is not possible at this stage to say when that will occur but suffice to say that although there is a lot of information to assimilate and consider, I am very cognisant of the need to report to the Minister as soon as
practicable to enable her to consider any recommendations which I might make.”

More than 100 people made written submissions and of them 43 people also gave oral evidence – publicly.

The number of people who gave evidence privately is not known.

The public speakers included the current Chief Executive Officer, David Farmer, and Chief Financial Officer, Natalia Cowley, and the Administrator, Rik Hart, as well as his predecessor Dick Persson.

All 13 suspended Councillors fronted the Inquiry and the two former Councillors who resigned days before suspension; Liberals Rebecca Gale and Troy Marquart.

The professional members of the Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee, Dr Col Gellatly, Carl Millington and John Gordon also spoke.

The final day saw Professor Graham Sansom, who had many years earlier chaired an independent review panel that raised the possibility of a merger of Gosford and Wyong, give his opinion on many of the main themes that have emerged throughout the public hearings.

Two former Gosford employees Gary Chestnut and Razia Hassan and a Umina resident Tom Collosimo also spoke on the last day.

The previous day saw a Warringah resident, Brain Halstead who had sat on the Mosman Council’s Audit and Risk Committee give evidence.

Don’t miss next week’s paper for a wrap up of the common themes that the submissions and speakers addressed.

Merilyn Vale