Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 9: Corruption, Outrage and Whistleblowing
Brian Martin Introduction The opening days of the public hearings on corrupt conduct had sensational revelations. The hearings were in Sydney but the focus was Wollongong, a city of 300,000 inhabitants some 80 kilometres south of Sydney – in particular relations between the local government and property developers. The hearings, in February 2008, were held by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), a government-funded body in the state of New South Wales. ICAC had been conducting covert surveillance for two years into activities in Wollongong. At the hearings, at which witnesses could be compelled to testify, those who were recalcitrant or deceitful could be discredited and embarrassed by evidence from the surveillance. Beth Morgan, the opening witness, had worked for Wollongong Council, the local government body, as a senior development officer with authority to approve property development applications. She revealed that she had been having sexual affairs with three developers at the time their applications were under consideration. She approved their applications despite the proposals being in violation of council rules. This juicy story generated front-page coverage in the local newspaper, the Illawarra Mercury.1 There was plenty more to come. The developers had been paying bribes – money and expensive gifts – to Morgan and others. This included some staff members and some of the elected councillors. Local development is a prime arena for corruption. The web of rules and regulations gives local government planners a great deal of power over the fate of plans, large and small. Those with money and...
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