Bob Fredman
Bob Fredman

WATERGATE? Hartwig makes explosive claim in wake of report

GYMPIE councillor and mayoral candidate Glen Hartwig has applauded the release of the water and sewerage report, made public this week and repeated his belief that the report was used to get rid of then head of water and sewerage Bob Fredman.

The report was released following a successful Right to Information request by The Gympie Times and an unsuccessful attempt by the council to keep is secret.

CLICK HERE: Council told to release report it tried to keep secret

READ MORE: 'Degrading Fredman dismissal' blasted by councillor

"With the release of the water report, people now get to see the report that was used to sack Bob Fredman,” Cr Hartwig said.

OPINION: Deafening silence over Fredman dismissal

Mr Fredman suddenly and mysteriously departed the council soon after the report was compiled in 2016, but has since been elected to represent Division 8.

Gympie Council 2018 Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Council Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald. Renee Albrecht

Cr Hartwig said some key areas of the report that needed to be understood were that maintenance staff had been taken from Water and Sewage and allocated to Infrastructure services at the time.

"In section 4.4 the report identifies that Water and Sewage was:

Understaffed - 15 systems to develop and manage and 18 people to operate (not enough supervisors and vehicles),

2 or 3 senior staff with over a year in annual leave,

Light vehicles still serviced in house,

Need enough staff to allow interchanges for extended leave or transition to retirement - multiple,

Infrastructure Services - Field Group have not delivered planned work e.g. CCTV work, mains flushing, sewer investigations, etc. Minimal outsourcing of work,

Need more support in finance, asset management & ICT. - multiple,

More administration/secretarial support required.

Bernard Smith returns from the Ironman World Championship, Kona, Hawii.Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
Council CEO Bernard Smith Patrick Woods

"Imagine working in an environment where you are understaffed, not being supported by GRC management and the department given the responsibility to do maintenance had not delivered planned work.

"If the mechanic fails to service the car when asked, do you fire the owner or get a new mechanic?

"Seems like those in power decided to get rid of Mr Fredman and do nothing about the gross failures of infrastructure services. Does that seem appropriate?

"As I have said before, in my opinion this report was used against Bob Fredman even though he had no control over the people repairing the network, and no known serious action was taken for the failures of infrastructure services.

Councillor Bob Fredman Mary Valley Highway.
Cr Bob Fredman Mary Valley Highway. Scott Kovacevic

"In my opinion, which I expressed to council at the time, 'it looked like a set-up'.

"This report and the subsequent action to remove Bob Fredman, in my opinion is a fine example of the poor culture in GRC.

"There is a desperate need to change the culture of the GRC organisation and make it a place where people feel safe to work.

"Staff morale is low and can be proven by the recent staff survey, but without council taking steps to address these issues, productivity will continue to decline. People working in these types of environments cannot perform effectively.

"Councillors need to see the staff survey to adequately understand the health of the organisation.

Cr Bob Fredman and Mayor Mick Curran.
Cr Bob Fredman and Mayor Mick Curran. Renee Albrecht

"Mayor Curran used his casting vote to defeat a motion allowing councillors access to this report. We all know there are huge problems but some just don't want to face them.

"If elected Mayor, staff survey results would be made available to all councillors.

"Change is desperately needed to repair our damaged culture.”