Authorities terminated an informant who accused some resources approvals of being unlawful.
Rebecca Connor was dismissed from her mining titles operations manager job, after complaining about the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment’s decision to grant a mining lease.
Connor was suspended on 10 November 2017, just 24 hours after warning her senior manager to revoke the approval because it might be illegal.
Although the department internally investigated the whistleblower’s concerns no wrongdoing was found on the employer’s part. Connor and some of her colleagues were later accused of failing to “play ball” before being fired.
“The NSW State Government and the department continue to cover up these issues,” the woman’s partner, former senior policeman Allan Connor, said according to Australian Community Media.
The couple escalated the matter to the State Ombudsman, which examined multiple public interest disclosures at the Maitland mining title office between 2014 and 2018. A key part of the investigation focused on whether department managers and agents representing proponents participated in serious and high-level corruption.
Investigators were unable to substantiate these allegations because the State Government allegedly provided just 20 documents.
“[Available records were] not sufficient to allow us to understand how the disclosures were received, handled and investigated,” they said according to the media outlet.
“[A second request for information] had to be issued because we did not receive all the documents that should have been produced in response to the first notice.”
Other employees criticised the department’s “openly hostile” work environment, and its close collaboration with mining agents who acted as if they were “part of the same company”.
The Ombudsman concluded there was “no evidence” of corruption.
The department did not respond to media requests for comment before the article was published.