Canterbury planning boss ‘worth a punt’, ICAC told

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The inquiry has spent greater than 50 days scrutinising the choices of the previous council, since merged into the Metropolis of Canterbury Bankstown, through the space’s latest growth growth.

It has largely centred on the relationships between Mr Montague, Mr Stavis and former councillors Azzi and Hawatt.

Hearings for the inquiry resumed on Monday, when Mr Montague was quizzed on the recruitment course of behind Mr Stavis’ appointment to the plum function of director of metropolis planning in late 2014.

He mentioned the council had been racked by political division and dominated by a “junta” led by councillors Azzi and Hawatt concerning the time the previous head of planning, Marcelo Occhiuzzi, give up.

The inquiry has beforehand heard allegations the 2 councillors resorted to blackmail and threats to put in Mr Stavis within the function.

Below questions from counsel aiding the fee, David Buchanan, SC, Mr Montague denied there had not been anybody on the interview panel with planning experience as a result of he and the 2 councillors had wished to nominate “whoever you needed” to the function.

Spiro Stavis leaves an ICAC hearing earlier this year.

Spiro Stavis leaves an ICAC listening to earlier this yr.Credit score:Wolter Peeters

“That is not true and it is really offensive,” he mentioned. “I used to be making an attempt to get the perfect individual for the function for the advantage of the council and the group.”

He mentioned Labor fixer Bechara Khouri had talked about Mr Stavis’ identify when Mr Montague indicated he was in search of a brand new planning boss, however denied Mr Khouri had tried to affect his remaining choice.

“I mentioned, ‘Are you aware anybody?’ I used to be a reasonably determined man at that stage, I wanted somebody for the function.”

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The inquiry heard the panel had interviewed 5 candidates for the function, together with Karen Jones, a planner from the previous Leichhardt Council.

He mentioned Cr Azzi had instructed him Ms Jones “could not get the job, she had no probability” regardless of her credentials. “Cr Azzi made it very clear he did not desire a leftie greenie from Leichhardt.”

Mr Montague mentioned information the 2 councillors had supplied Mr Stavis with interview questions forward of time was “fairly a revelation to me”. “I assumed that was a violation of belief,” he mentioned.

Nonetheless, in an e-mail, dated November 25 and browse in court docket, an impartial advisor who sat on the interview panel wrote to Mr Montague that her “intestine feeling is that Karen is main the pack”.

“Spiro – okay however hasn’t managed at this degree in any respect. I believe you’ll get inside resistance as a minimum.”

However Mr Montague instructed the court docket he “wasn’t keen to take the danger” in hiring Ms Jones.

“The circumstances on the time had been that it could not occur. I remorse that, however that is simply how it’s.”

He instructed the inquiry he thought Mr Stavis can be “a breath of recent air” within the council’s planning division.

“On the interview he performed himself effectively and I assumed he was value a punt, value an opportunity,” Mr Montague mentioned. “I did assume on the time he would deliver a completely new strategy.”

Mr Montague denied he had believed his job can be below risk resulting from stress from councillors Azzi and Hawatt if he had not appointed Mr Stavis.

“I made selections on the time I assumed had been proper, that turned out to not be proper … a few of them.

“If I had my time over, I would do issues in a different way,” he mentioned.

The listening to continues.

Megan Gorrey is a reporter on the Sydney Morning Herald. She was beforehand a reporter at The Canberra Instances.

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