Sacked taking action in whistleblower case
Allegations that rangers were told not to issue fines in some areas, including near construction sites owned by former Auburn Mayor Ronney Oueik and the Al-Faisal College, were examined during the 2016 public inquiry by Richard Beasley into the former Auburn Council.
While cleared of any wrongdoing by Mr Beasley, the inquiry did find that Mr Ouiek “as an elected member of council, should have played no role in any disputes concerning the work zone for his development and the council rangers or the council itself”.
Last week two former staff launched legal action under the NSW’s Public Interest Disclosure Act, claiming that instead of being protected as whistleblowers, they were sacked.
The pair claim they lost their jobs for allegedly breaching the council’s code of conduct by taking their concerns to then Auburn councillor Irene Simms who advised them to go to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
While not commenting on the case, partner Scott Dougall from Carroll and O’Dea Lawyers, who is representing the two former staff members, said it was the first case to be filed under the 25-year-old legislation in NSW.
Ms Simms told the Review that she was approached by staff at the time because the people involved were senior to them and they “didn’t know who they could trust”.
“There was no internal ombudsmen so we rang ICAC,” she said.
“As far as I’m concerned it was absolutely the appropriate thing for them to do.”
Auburn Council was abolished following amalgamations with Cumberland Council in 2016, however general manager Hamish McNulty said they would not be commenting as the matter is before the courts.