Destruction of $252 million slush fund approval documents requires forensic examination
Thursday 26 October 2020
From Mayor Darcy Byrne: Following testimony last Friday from the Premier’s advisor Sarah Lau that documents approving grants through the Government’s $252 million slush fund were shredded and deleted, I have written to the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet requesting a forensic review to retrieve these crucial pieces of evidence from Department’s IT and records system.
As the destruction of these documents is seemingly not in keeping with the State Records Act I have asked the Secretary to examine this and to provide advice on whether this deliberate act is lawful.
Inner West Council and Canterbury Bankstown Councils have also engaged Bret Walker SC to scrutinise whether the Stronger Communities fund was administered illegally.
It is very difficult to permanently delete a document from a sophisticated IT and records system, such as that of the Department. It is highly likely that the documents Ms Lau attempted to delete will still be able to be retrieved by a forensic IT specialist. There will be a data record of the attempted destruction of the documents.
As an amalgamated Council the Inner West should have been eligible to receive a grant from the Stronger Communities fund, but the existence of the program was kept completely secret from us and many other merged Councils.
Had the monies from the program been allocated fairly, on a per capita basis, to amalgamated Councils, the Inner West community would have received approximately $24 million for local infrastructure.
Given the massive disadvantage our ratepayers and those of other excluded Councils have suffered, it is imperative that there be complete transparency from this point on regarding the evidence contained in the Department of Premier and Cabinet records.
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