Push for Callan Park ICAC probe

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Callan_park.jpgPublished 31 May - Deborah FitzGerald

Manager confesses to taking kickbacks in court

There are calls for the Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate the management of Rozelle's Callan Park after its manager of seven years admitted to taking bribes.

As the head of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority staff at Callan Park from 2008 to 2015, senior manager Kylie Vernon took day-to-day responsibility for the operations at Callan Park.

Balmain state Greens MP Jamie Parker has written to the ICAC asking it to launch a full-scale investigation.

Ms Vernon was stood down last week after she admitted in a NSW Supreme Court case to taking kickbacks.

She confessed to the receipt of $30,000 in corrupt payments from Ted Lakis from Amazon Pest Control during a civil dispute with Mr Lakis's former business partner Michael Lardis.

Cleaning contractor, Arcadia Pacific Group, run by Mr Lakis's father-in-law Steve Tassis, was providing industrial cleaning services at Callan Park in 2008, and was recently awarded an industrial cleaning contract worth $240,000 for the Callan Park precinct from November 2015 to November 2017.

A spokesman for the Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet, said an investigation into the bribery allegations and all relevant SHFA contracts was in progress.

"Ms Vernon is suspended and the contracts are being reviewed as part of that investigation," he said.

"Other departments that hold contracts with the two firms concerned have been advised of the circumstances and DFSI will continue to liaise with those departments as the investigation continues," the spokesman said.

NSW Procurement is considering whether Amazon Pest Control and Arcadia Pacific Group will continue as government-approved suppliers.

Mr Parker said there were findings of corruption against a SHFA senior executive only five years ago.

"It is deeply troubling that a government agency with responsibility for significant assets appears to have failed to identify corrupt behaviour," Mr Parker said.

I have previously expressed concerns about the 'informal' commercial leases and the unusual commercial arrangements on the (Callan Park) site.

"It is important that ICAC investigate the actions of SHFA staff so the public can be satisfied that corrupt conduct has been fully investigated and resolved.

"The government also needs to come clean of why allegations of corruption have arisen in the same agency that was investigated in 2011."


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