Polglase defends Griffin

By PETER CATON

FORMER Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase has accused the Council's new administrators of unnecessarily pushing for change in the organisation.

His comments follow the announcement by Tweed Shire Council's general manager Dr John Griffin that he is considering retirement and a new investigation into council operations, including the use of credit cards.

The investigation was prompted a month ago by administrator Max Boyd.

Earlier this week chief administrator Garry Payne, who is also the director general of the NSW Local Government Department confirmed he had sub-contracted investigation work to the Auditor-General's Department.

"It makes you wonder, are the administrators trying to make change for change's sake," Mr Polglase said yesterday.

He staunchly defended Dr Griffin, whose extended contract until 2009 he personally signed prior to the March 2004 election.

And he suggested the pressure of running the council and the turmoil of the last year may have had an impact on Dr Griffin who is 60.

"These things do take their toll," Mr Polglase said.

"It's a very challenging position to be involved with because you are always under criticism from some part of the community."

Meanwhile, Dr Griffin confirmed yesterday he was going on a week's leave - but rejected suggestions that was the start of retirement.

"I've had it planned for a while. I will be back," he said.

Negotiations over a departure date and the future of his $200,000-a-year contract, which would normally have to be paid out if Dr Griffin did not leave voluntarily, are likely to take place when he returns.

Dr Griffin said he had been contemplating retiring since last year - before seeing through the controversy-ridden Daly Inquiry that led to the sacking of councillors.

He said he had given notice he is considering retiring because "you don't just walk out".

Meanwhile the investigation into council finances, which Mr Payne and Dr Griffin have emphasised is not linked to the possible retirement, continues.

It follows references made by Commissioner Maurice Daly's in his report which led to the sacking of councillors, but not pursued by him, relating to the use of credit cards, leave records and the use of council cars.

Dr Griffin's announcement that he is considering retirement came as no surprise to some council watchers.

"It's been obvious to anyone attending council meetings since the administrators took over that Dr Griffin's role had been to some extent sidelined," said spokesman for lobby group Tweed Monitor, Jerry Cornford.



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