Corruption complaint against council CEO
THE Crime and Corruption Commission is investigating corruption allegations against Gold Coast City Council CEO Dale Dickson after a complaint was launched by a senior staffer.
Mayor Tom Tate's media advisor Warwick Sinclair made the bombshell claims against the council's CEO - the city's highest paid and most powerful bureaucrat - the Bulletin can reveal.
Mr Sinclair was Councillor Tate's long-term media advisor until he resigned in June 2019, and retired. He returned to guide the mayor's successful third-term re-election campaign in March last year.
The media advisor role to Cr Tate was advertised after the local government poll, and Mr Sinclair won the position but his reappointment appeared to stall as it took months for him to return to the Evandale chambers.
It is understood the complaint to the State corruption watchdog against Mr Dickson alleges:
● The CEO misused his authority to target Mr Sinclair and delayed the start of his job, causing financial losses.
● He interfered in the recruitment for the job, which denied the process under a merit-based system.
● He breached confidentiality by discussing what occurred when Mr Sinclair resigned and the terms of his release in June 2019.
Mr Dickson in a response to the Bulletin said: "I welcome any investigation by the CCC or any other independent agency regarding my conduct as City of Gold Coast CEO.
"I am yet to be provided with the particulars of any complaint submitted to the CCC. As such, I will not be providing any further comment at this time."
Council sources said Mr Sinclair secured the media advisor role after beating 50 other applicants for the position determined by an interview panel.
The Bulletin in reports during 2020 suggested Mr Sinclair was returning to council but it took up to 14 weeks for this to occur.
Sources confirm the initial complaint to the CCC was in early November and more information was provided to the corruption watchdog during December.
The CCC in its initial response has indicated the allegations, if proved, amounted to corrupt conduct and referred the matter to council's own ethics unit.
But council's investigation will be subject to a full merit and compliance review by the CCC. A CCC merit and compliance review is where the organisation monitors the outcomes of council's own investigation.
Given the sensitivity of council's ethics unit investigating its CEO, the CCC has also recommended an external investigator be appointed for transparency and an independent review.
The CCC when asked about the investigation said: "The CCC does not confirm or deny if it has received a complaint or is investigating a matter unless a party directly related to that matter makes it publicly known.
"On that basis the CCC declines to comment."
Mr Dickson has been council CEO since 2003. The council is the second largest in Australia, with 3400 staff and a budget of $1.1 billion.
The council CEO has steered the administration through the 2018 Commonwealth Games and now COVID. His current contract is due to finish in September this year.
Mr Dickson's salary is estimated to be more than $600,000, larger than the Prime Minister's but similar to counterparts at other large councils like Brisbane.
Councillors at a meeting in late July last year after a debate on a "confidential staffing matter" voted unanimously to "commence a process for the appointment of a chief executive officer".
Cr Tate later told the Bulletin: "This (process) is consistent with the decision council took in September 2017 when Mr Dickson was reappointed."
A nationwide recruitment process was launched, and there has been much speculation inside the corridors of Evandale on whether the CEO would reapply for another term with council insiders unsure of his next move.
Sources suggest the dispute between Mr Dickson and Mr Sinclair began shortly before the media advisor's resignation in 2019.
Mr Sinclair is a veteran in the media industry and trusted long-term strategic political advisor to Cr Tate.
Mr Sinclair in a response when approached by the Bulletin for comment said: "I'm disappointed this is in the public arena.
"I signed a confidentiality agreement when I resigned and will not breach that deed.
"Given the CCC is now involved, it is best this investigation runs its course so I cannot make any further comment.''
Originally published as EXCLUSIVE: Senior staffer lodges corruption complaint against council CEO