‘Minister hasn’t done enough’

Adrian Pawar
Adrian Pawar

THE man who blew the whistle on a “toxic” culture within Moira Council has rejected an offer to return to his former job.

Former chief financial officer Adrian Pawar lasted only six months in the role before quitting last August.

Late last year he was approached about a return but turned it down.

Mr Pawar has spoken out again amid concerns Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell has not done enough to fix the problems at Moira.

The minister ordered mayor Peter Mansfield and acting chief executive officer Peter Bertolus to a meeting in Melbourne on Monday for a please explain on concerns raised with her about the council’s inability to provide good governance.

In response, Local Government Victoria executive director Nick Foa is headed for Moira in coming days to provide advice on “appropriate councillor conduct and governance matters”.

But Mr Pawar said the minister was shirking the real issues within the council.

“The whole focus seems to be on councillors’ conduct,” he said.

“It is sugar coating.

“She has had umpteen opportunities to intervene, but has chosen not to.

“It is just a slap in the face.”

Mr Pawar, who hasn’t been able to secure a job since quitting Moira, said he was approached about a return in mid-November following the dismissal of chief executive officer Gary Arnold.

The Border Mail has seen a copy of the six-month contract offered to Mr Pawar.

“I told them thanks, but no thanks,” he said.

“Why would they want me back?

“Do they know they are in trouble and can’t get out of it themselves?

“It was all a plan to prove to people everything is fine.”

Cr Mansfield said yesterday he was unaware of Mr Pawar being offered a chance to return to the council.

“It is operational so I wouldn’t know,” he said.

The Border Mail has also seen a copy of a legal letter issued to Mr Pawar following his original comments about Moira Council.

Mr Pawar said recommendations to shed jobs and cut spending put him on a collision course with Mr Arnold and present director Alison Coe.

He alerted the minister to issues at Moira soon after he quit.

“My biggest fear is nothing is going to happen and it is going to be a snow job,” Mr Pawar said.

“What does the minister want?

“Rates in the shire to go up and people to literally start stressing out to the point of giving up hope?

“We have got to start now.”

Mr Pawar predicted a rate rise in the order of 10 per cent was looming after the council reduced the intended rise this financial year from 6 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

The Australian Services Union investigated allegations of workplace issues at Moira in 2012.

Meanwhile, Moira Council is close to announcing a replacement chief executive officer.