COUNCIL CRACKDOWN: New South Wales Minister for Local Government, Gabrielle Upton, has announced sweeping new measures to ensure local councils are properly managing credit card expenditure.
COUNCIL CRACKDOWN: New South Wales Minister for Local Government, Gabrielle Upton, has announced sweeping new measures to ensure local councils are properly managing credit card expenditure. Contributed

Council credit card fraud ‘could never happen here’

NORTHERN Rivers councils have responded to a state government crackdown on corporate credit card usage saying an instance where a central NSW council member clocked up $500,000 in bills, "could never happen here."

In fact one council said it does not even issue a corporate credit card to its general manager.

On Tuesday the NSW Minister for Local Government, Gabrielle Upton, announced sweeping new measures to ensure local councils are properly managing credit card expenditure.

This comes after the the alleged irregularity of former Hay Council general manager Allen Dwyer billed more than $500,000 to a council credit card in his name, including $73,600 in cash advances, often in $200 amounts.

Kyogle Council's general manager Graham Kennett said he was "bitterly disappointed," by the alleged actions of Mr Dwyer.

"I hope this man is punished to the full extent of the law, when people behave like this it reflects poorly on the rest of the industry," he said.

"This credit card fraud could never happen here, as Kyogle Council already has many of Ms Upton's provisions in place."

Lismore City Council general manager Shelley Oldham, said the organisation already have strong governance procedures in place.

"We will continue to ensure that robust measures and controls remain in place (and) the process of establishing an Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee is well under way," she said.

"We have completed the Expression of Interest and are now in the process of selecting the final membership."

A Ballina Shire Council representative said they have "very robust" credit card management practices in place.

"The general manager is not issued a council credit card," she said.

"Ballina Shire Council's internal auditor, Grant Thornton Pty. Ltd, as part of their on-going internal audit program for council, completed an audit...in August this year (and) it stated 'Council has implemented robust end to end systems and procedures'.

"However, the audit identified areas for improvement which we are currently implementing."

A spokeswoman for Byron Shire Council said they already have very strict rules surrounding the use of corporate credit cards.

"Our auditors last reviewed council's fraud and corruption controls in March 2018 and did not identify any issues of significance," she said.

"Council has since developed a new Fraud and Corruption Control policy and strategy to further strengthen its financial governance."