Wangaratta Council exposed | Senior staff accused of organising protest

WANGARATTA Council’s former senior staff were accused of arranging an “industrial relations protest” to highlight governance issues within the former council last year.

Julian Fidge’s legal team yesterday tendered to VCAT an article that appeared in the Wangaratta Chronicle quoting Graham Nickless, one of those to take stress- related leave.

In it, Mr Nickless said the staff had gone on leave because the system to support local government had failed Wangaratta.

His comments were retracted in a follow-up article.

“All of these heads of department went on sick leave at the same time,” Dr Fidge’s legal counsel said.

“It was nothing to do with stress.

“This was them making a point by saying we don’t find our working conditions tolerable.”

Under cross-examination, former mayor Rozi Parisotto said stress definitely played a part in the absence of staff.

“The conditions were stressful,” she said.

“I was supplied with medical certificates from the chief executive (Doug Sharp) and they actually had stress on them.”

The hearing continues.