Chief Minister Michael Gunner says he threw out an internal review he had commissioned into how his office was functioning prior to the dismissal of his high-profile chief of staff last year because “it wasn’t that important”.
Mr Gunner allegedly paid Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ chief of staff Lissie Ratcliff out of his own pocket to do a review of his office a year out from the election.
His chief of staff Alf Leonardi and other senior members were subsequently moved out of the office.
Asked on ABC Radio Monday morning why he threw the review out, he said it “wasn’t very interesting”.
“I think it’s because…helps put this in perspective, it wasn’t the 10 Commandments, it was a couple notes and most of it was potential org charts and different structures and obviously once I got a new chief of staff , then I should put in a new org chart and a structure and just moved on,” Mr Gunner said.
“So, it just, it just … how do I undersell this? It just wasn’t that important. Apologies Lissie, it just wasn’t that important.”
Asked about the matter at a press conference later, Mr Gunner said it was no big deal and that “I throw stuff out all the time”.
Mr Gunner said it was not a review and was “informative not determinative”, although he did pay for Ms Ratcliff’s flights and accommodation to come to Darwin.
“I thought it was inappropriate (to put it on the taxpayer) because it was just a bit of oversight,” he said. “I paid for a flight and some hotel rooms, a hotel room. I just thought it was a reasonable thing to do. I felt wrong putting it on the taxpayer, I thought that’s something I should do, so, anyway, anyway.”
The ABC had filed a Freedom of Information request to the Chief Minister’s Office seeking the review that was rejected by Mr Gunner’s current chief of staff Emily Beresford-Cane citing that it was a management issue and not subject to release.
The ABC appealed that decision and it was later claimed that the document was thrown out.
Mr Leonardi was replaced by Ms Beresford-Cane last year, with the official story that Mr Leonardi had health concerns. He was later given a senior, executive job in the Education Department that wasn’t advertised.