Corruption charges upheld

The West Australian Corruption and Crime Commission has upheld charges of misconduct against disgraced former Rodney District Council chief executive Rodger Kerr-Newell.

This follows a two-year investigation into allegations regarding the Shire of Halls Creek, in the state’s far north, where Mr Kerr-Newell was appointed chief executive four years ago.

In the commission’s report released this afternoon, it says it formed a number of opinions of serious misconduct relating to Mr Kerr- Newell’s disclosure and management of conflicts of interest and the misuse of entitlements.

The commission also discovered that Mr Kerr-Newell contravened probity and accountability standards in a botched procurement process for the purchase of six Toyota vehicles to Halls Creek Toyota.

The investigation revealed that Mr Kerr-Newell used his position as chief executive to appoint Bronwyn Little, with whom he had a long-term intimate relationship, to the role strategic planning manager at the shire. In doing so, he corrupted the recruitment process by affording Ms Little the opportunity to write the job description and even appointed her before the application closing date.

Mr Kerr-Newell also failed to accurately disclose the true nature of their relationship or his conflict of interest, and increased her salary by $24,000 (in total) over a four-year period.

The commission’s report states that Mr Kerr-Newell failed to meet his obligations under the Local Government Act in respect to his secondary employment as a director of three windfarm companies in New Zealand.

While Mr Kerr-Newell did seek consent from the shire president to take on a directorship with NZ Windfarms, he failed to disclose his financial interest in these companies, the amount of time he would spend fulfilling the role, and his appointment as chairman.

Mr Kerr-Newell regularly took leave recorded as time-in-lieu to which he was not entitled, and regularly travelled to New Zealand on wind farm business. This equated to 24 days leave per year or approximately $78,000 of ratepayers money.

In the wake of the CCC’s investigation, and its public examinations into the Shire of Halls Creek in April 2018, Mr Kerr-Newell’s employment was terminated by the Shire.

Mr Kerr-Newell's whereabouts are currently unknown and he could not be contacted for comment.

He did not seek re-election as the chair of NZ Windfarms when the company held its annual meeting this month.

During his last 12 months with Rodney council, Mr Kerr-Newell received in excess of $700,000 as chief executive. He was in the job for only two-and-a-half years and his termination package of $349,000 was the highest of any of the outgoing Council chief executives.

View the commissin's full report here