A GROUP of Melville residents who lodged a CCC complaint against a Melville council manager say they’re “horrified” CEO Shayne Silcox has threatened to investigate if they’ve committed a jailable offence (“Prison threat for mud-slingers,” Herald, October 14, 2017).
The residents, who asked for anonymity, said Dr Silcox’s comments could deter other law-abiding citizens from reporting corruption or misconduct to the CCC, which would not be in the public interest.
“There are mechanisms to deal with the making of malicious or mischievous allegations to the CCC, and there are also provisions to ensure the commission is able to receive complaints and that bona fide complainants are adequately protected from retribution,” they wrote to the Herald in a statement.
“Mr Silcox’s statement that the reporting of matters in this instance was ‘malicious and reckless’ infers that the CCC did not act appropriately in pursuing an investigation given material and assurances he had provided.
“In fact, the CCC process begins with a base analysis to establish that a complaint is not frivolous or malicious.
“The commission is required under its charter to act responsibly and to use its scarce resources appropriately and where justified.”
The group says the comments by Dr Silcox and mayor Russell Aubrey were indicative of a breakdown in their relationship with some parts of the community.
“CEOs and the mayor have a position of power in the community and must behave objectively and impartially and not become personally involved when a complaint is received about an employee.”
The Herald asked the commission if Dr Silcox had overstepped the mark with his comments, and while it wouldn’t comment directly on the case, said in a statement that: “Most matters are brought to the CCC’s attention by public sector authorities or people with good intentions who are concerned about what they believe may be serious misconduct occurring in the Western Australian public sector.
“…the CCC would like to say that if a member of the public makes an allegation directly to the CCC, they can be confident that all allegations are assessed and managed appropriately.”
The commission’s legislation provides protections for whistleblowers, including criminal charges for anyone who threatens, intimidates or harasses potential witnesses.
“The CCC does not generally make public any information about the allegations it may or may not have receive or what it is or isn’t investigating for a numbers of reasons,” said the CCC, citing privacy, reputations and ensuring its work wasn’t used by anyone else to damage others.
“The commissioner firmly believes that all Western Australians have a role to play in building integrity in the public sector and urges people to remain ‘vigilant’ and notify the CCC directly if you suspect serious misconduct or corruption by a public officer.”
by STEVE GRANT