MYSTERY still surrounds the suspension of Narrabri Shire Council’s deputy general manager and environmental services director Russell Booby.
While as many of five of the town’s councillors have confirmed Mr Booby was stood down on full pay amid allegations of misconduct on Tuesday, no details have been released.
Yesterday Narrabri Shire general manager Ian McCallum still would not comment on the suspension, which happened on Tuesday morning but it is understood that an internal council inquiry is being held.
The matter is threatening to cause a major rift in the council with a majority of the councillors contacted by The Leader yesterday saying they believed that Narrabri’s ratepayers had a right to know what was going on.
And one of the councillors, who did not wish to be named, said he believed that Mr McCallum had little support within council on the matter.
The same councillor indicated that the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the NSW Department of Local Government had been told of the reasons for the suspension but had seen the matter as “internal politics.”
Narrabri mayor Ross Panton told The Leader he would be issuing a statement today to clarify the matter for the public.
A number of claims as to why Mr Booby was suspended were given to The Leader yesterday but as they could not be substantiated, they cannot be published.
It is, however, understood that Mr Booby’s suspension happened only minutes before he was due to address the council on a number of issues relating
to the council’s engineering
Councillors were also given no reason why Mr Booby was
Narrabri Shire’s deputy mayor Ken Bailey said it was unfortunate that the matter had occurred but he was supportive of Mr Booby.
“The issue behind any misconduct has been mismanagement, in some respects I see that Russell Booby might be a scapegoat,” Cr Bailey said.
Without speculating on what could happen after the council’s inquiry, Cr Bailey wished to point out that Mr McCallum was able to negotiate the terms of employment of any council employee.
At the same time, Cr Bailey said a local government general manager’s employment rested on the shoulders of the full council decision.
“Our general manager might be sitting on a time bomb if the inquiry shows no evidence of misconduct on Mr Booby’s behalf,” Cr Bailey said
Another Narrabri councillor, Shane Rae, said he believed any comments should be left to the two parties involved.
“To ensure that the process is undertaken honestly I believe the reasonable thing to do is leave any comments to Mr Booby and Mr McCallum,” Cr Rae said.
“The number one issue here is ensuring Mr Booby’s integrity and the integrity of Narrabri Shire Council remains intact.”
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