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State Government takes back Sunshine Coast whistleblower

Departing Sunshine Coast Council chief strategy officer Craig Matheson and Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson.
Departing Sunshine Coast Council chief strategy officer Craig Matheson and Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson. Twitter

DEPARTING Sunshine Coast Council executive Craig Matheson has some advice as he returns to an organisation where his whistleblowing led to an investigation into alleged misuse of public funds.

"My only advice to anybody is to maintain their integrity at all times," Mr Matheson said.

He was named as a key figure in a 2009 Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation into a $4.2 million State Government grant given to Queensland Rugby Union in 2008.

Mr Matheson was Acting Deputy Director-General of the former Department of Local Government, Sport and Recreation when he was involved in facilitating the grant.

He had risen to the executive position during a 20-year career in State Government.

His employment with Sunshine Coast Council started in October 2010, a few months before the commission's investigation report was released.

It was Mr Matheson who, in 2009, had acted as a whistleblower on issues within the grant process.

His reporting sparked the commission's investigation.

Ultimately, no disciplinary action was taken against Mr Matheson, but the report highlighted several issues.

 

Departing Sunshine Coast Council chief strategy officer Craig Matheson appears at a Crime and Misconduct Commission hearing into misuse of public funds in 2009.
Departing Sunshine Coast Council chief strategy officer Craig Matheson appears at a Crime and Misconduct Commission hearing into misuse of public funds in 2009. NORRISH PHILIP

It found senior and very experienced public servants had been unduly influenced by a ministerial adviser.

"As a result, the advice the department ultimately delivered to the minister was neither impartial nor in accordance with applicable policy and guidelines," the report read.

 

Departing Sunshine Coast Council chief strategy officer Craig Matheson (left) appears at a Crime and Misconduct Commission hearing into misuse of public funds in 2009.
Departing Sunshine Coast Council chief strategy officer Craig Matheson (left) appears at a Crime and Misconduct Commission hearing into misuse of public funds in 2009. NORRISH PHILIP

Mr Matheson's lawyer had told an investigation hearing that Mr Matheson accepted he did not display fearless impartiality.

"His account was effectively that he was being bent to what he perceived to be the ministerial will," the lawyer said.

Mr Matheson recently resigned from his Sunshine Coast Council role of chief strategy officer as a part of the eight-member leadership team.

He did not want to speak about his time with the council when contacted by the Daily.

"I don't give media interviews in relation to myself," Mr Matheson said.

He said the Crime and Misconduct Commission's investigation had found there was no case for him to answer.

"The person who referred the matter to the CMC was myself."

A tweet posted earlier this month to Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson's Twitter account said Mr Mathieson was leaving with the council's blessings.

"Good man, great ideas," Cr Jamieson wrote.

Mr Matheson is due to start his new role as Deputy Director General of Local Government and Regional Services on Monday.

A spokesman for the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning said Mr Matheson's appointment was based on an open merit selection process.

"He has extensive experience in both local and state government, particularly in public policy, strategic leadership and corporate governance," the spokesman said.

Topics:  crime and misconduct commission inquiry investigation state government strategy sunshine coast council whistleblower



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