Council broke whistleblower laws over Dominello complaint

Ryde council broke NSW whistleblower laws after receiving a formal complaint against finance minister and local MP Victor Dominello from the former deputy mayor, Jane Stott.

On Saturday Fairfax Media revealed Ms Stott had filed the complaint, known as a Public Interest Disclosure, after Mr Dominello allegedly linked her Liberal party preselection to her vote on a 1400-unit development during a telephone call.

Ms Stott says she felt “threatened and intimidated” by the call in relation to her preselection. She said the disclosure was made to the then acting general manager of Ryde, Paul Newsome.

But Ms Stott said she has never been shown a copy of her complaint, despite lodging it more than four months ago.

The Public Interest and Disclosures Act states that acknowledgement, in writing, of receipt of the disclosure is to be provided to a person who makes a public interest disclosure, within 45 days after the person makes the disclosure.”

Ms Stott told Fairfax Media she has never received such acknowledgement.

On Monday Mr Newsome acknowledged he had accepted Ms Stott’s complaint as a Public Interest Disclosure.

But when asked about providing her with written acknowledgment, he said: “That hasn’t happened. I can’t offer any further comment.”

Mr Newsome would not discuss details of the disclosure, but added: “Since the story I’ve obviously had to revisit the matter and I’m taking appropriate action.”

Mr Dominello has denied any wrongdoing in relation to his phone calls in April to Ms Stott and other Liberal councillors over the development by Holdmark Property Group.

He acknowledges he phoned Cr Stott, then Ryde mayor Bill Pickering and other Liberal councillors about a $143 million voluntary planning agreement with Holdmark Property Group to deliver affordable housing and community facilities.

Mr Dominello argues that he was acting on concerns raised with him by Mr Newsome about the project at Macquarie Park.

Mr Newsome has previously told Fairfax Media it was the minister who raised a separate Holdmark development at Meadowbank with him during a general discussion at the April 26 meeting at his Ryde electorate office.

Mr Newsome said he mentioned the council was that night considering the Holdmark voluntary planning agreement “in the context of the matter the minister had raised”.

Ms Stott and Mr Pickering subsequently lost Liberal party preselection.

Mr Dominello has said he did not attend the Liberal preselection for Ryde Council on August 8. Nor did he vote or send a proxy.

Planning minister Anthony Roberts, a close friend of Mr Pickering’s, has confirmed Mr Pickering raised Mr Dominello’s call with him on April 26.

Labor has referred Mr Dominello to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, a move Mr Dominello says he welcomes.

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