Image for DPIPWE quietly abandons Fox probe. What’s going on here?

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First published September 14

Ivan Dean Independent MLC for Windermere interviewed on 7AD (Devonport) by Brian Carlton Tuesday 5 September 2017

Brian Carlton:  Let me bring in here Ivan Dean, the Independent MLC for Windermere. Ivan good morning, how are you?

Ivan Dean: Good morning, yes. … quite well thanks.

Brian Carlton:  Excellent. Now the DPIPWE investigation into the Fox Eradication Program appears to have been quietly abandoned by DPIPWE, what’s going on there?

Ivan Dean: Well, I don’t know what would have happened here, because if I hadn’t asked some questions in Parliament we probably would never have been told that it had been abandoned.  It wasn’t until I raised the issue that they even came back to me. As some people are aware, I was stunned when I got the reply. So, look I don’t know what’s going on with that Department, to be quite frank with you. I don’t know what was provided to them [DPIPWE] in the first place, but as I understand it, it was to look at their protocols; it was to look at some of their staff and some of the issues that were occurring within that Department during the Fox Eradication Program period. And it would seem now to abandon the inquiry simply because all of the employees in that area have gone, shot through or whatever is a disgrace, in my view.

You’ve got senior people in that organisation as well responsible for what the fox taskforce were doing and were up to.  But where are they in this? What did they do? And what happens to them with the inquiry? Are they abandoned as well? It’s just a disgrace

Brian Carlton:  And then I would suggest too, a lack of federal oversight as well? Are they in any way interested in what happened to their contribution?

Ivan Dean: Well they ought to be. They ought to be, because they funded a big part of the program. And a lot of information was provided to them. And there is evidence to suggest that a lot of that information was not true; wasn’t right! Why? Why wouldn’t they have an interest?

Brian Carlton: Let me get through the process here, because I think the process is actually important for people to understand Ivan, to just acknowledge how serious this is. Now, in 2016 Tasmania Police, they looked at a 150-page dossier from you Ivan. On that basis they found that there was no possibility … or at least it was too hard to get any kind of criminal prosecution but off the back of that they referred the whole thing back to DPIPWE to say look there is a potential there for misconduct by employees attached to the program; have a look at it and review this internally. And it’s that internal review that’s now been abandoned.

Ivan Dean: That is so. And there’s so much secrecy about this whole thing because I’ve never been told what was given to DPIPWE … I can’t be trusted with that and neither can the Parliament. So we’ve got no idea what went back to them, which is upsetting. But we’ve got here the Integrity Commission has also undertaken an inquiry and that’s still to be released. I’m not quite sure at what stage that is at.

But, it just defies common sense and logic to think they can abandon an inquiry simply because all of the employees shoot through.  It’s a disgrace.

Brian Carlton:  And that is the reason they have given you formally, is it Ivan? That they abandoned because the employees have left.

Ivan Dean: Yes, that’s what came back in answers provided to me in Parliament two or three weeks ago. That’s the answer I got back, to say that the last person … the last person standing had resigned and moved on.  So what does that tell you? It is not a good look at all. In fact, it’s a look that indicates to me that there are lots of issues here that have been left because they don’t want to know what the result is. They don’t want to find out what exactly happened.

And, Brian, we know, we know that if you don’t … this matters; this really matters.  Because we know, that history repeats itself if we do not learn from our mistakes.  So, if we don’t learn from this and we know there was manipulation of [record] books there was evidence supporting a lot of that as well … records.  So, if we don’t learn from this, we’ll see exactly the same mistake repeated again in the future.

Brian Carlton: Look, the other this is it’s a substantial amount of public monies that have sort of vanished here. We had allegations of carcasses being imported into the State, manipulated. You know, evidence that was clearly not from Tasmania after much scientific inquiry.

Ivan, the dollar-value has wiggled around between $40 and $50 million, but what do you believe that money actually went on? What was it spent on?

Ivan Dean: Well, it was spent on a number of people involved in the Fox Eradication Program and the Taskforce allegedly investigating the fox situation and it was said that we had heaps of foxes in this State running rampant all over the place. It was just a nonsense. 

Brian Carlton:  What are we talking about here? Are we talking about salaries? Are we talking about offices? Computers? Vehicles? What? Scientific tests that they knew wasn’t probably …

Ivan Dean: Yes. Yes. … Yeap.

Brian Carlton: Ok.

Ivan Dean: And firearms … if you have a look at the number of firearms this lot had. It was an incredible amount of firearms and ammunition, and top quality gear at that.  It was just an enormous amount and I understand that that’s been either sold off or given away or whatever … I don’t know what happened to that, but I’m going to ask questions about that as well.

Brian Carlton: Ivan, how long were these cowboys tromping around the State wasting taxpayers’ money?

Ivan Dean: Well, it all started in about what? 2002, I think didn’t it? I think at one stage you’ll find there were 60 to 70 odd employees in that branch, in the Fox Eradication Program … at one stage. So that’s an enormous number of people running around do what … nobody really knows.

Brian Carlton: And well nobody really knows and investigating some that most people believe wasn’t a problem to start with.

Ivan Dean: Absolutely. There was no physical evidence to support it at all.

Brian Carlton:  Oh dear. Where do we go from here Ivan? If DPIPWE are not investigating, what oversight body is there that can come and give them a bit of a tickle up?

Ivan Dean:  Well, I will be following it up I can assure you of that. It is not finished. I will be taking it further and I will raise the issue again in the Parliament. And here we are as a State supposedly doing all the right things. Supposedly being very careful with the work that we do, and open & clear and all the rest of that … transparent. Here we are. To me it’s covering up lots of stuff that certainly should be brought out in the open. They cannot hide behind this, Brian. They are going to have to bring this out in the open and tell people what’s gone on and what’s happened.

Brian Carlton: In the interests of transparency … as you say Ivan, so it bloody well doesn’t happen again. I mean think of the things $50 million could have funded in this State.

Ivan Dean: That’s correct. Absolutely … I would say up around the $50 to 60 million mark, you know, if you took everything into account. It’s an enormous amount of money and, as I said, people need to be held accountable. And senior people need to be held accountable; they can’t just blame those fellows who were running around out in the bush and so on. There were more than them in the branch [Fox Eradication Program]. What about the senior people as I’ve said who were in charge of those people ensuring that they were doing the right thing, and checking up on them. What were they doing? 

Brian Carlton:  Interesting, ok.  The idea that DPIPWE can drop an investigation into itself having been referred by the police, I find astonishing. Ivan I really appreciate your time this morning, thank you very much. It’s huge. We’ll keep talking about this. 

Ivan Dean: Brian, if I could just say. I always suspected that this is what would happen. I think I made that statement. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

HAG ...

The podcast of the radio interview with Ivan Dean is now on the tasmanianfox.com website:

On the home page:

http://www.tasmanianfox.com/

Link directly:

http://www.tasmanianfox.com/Tasmanian_Fox/HOME_files/ivan-dean-independent-mlc-for-windermere.mp3

Another tidbit is that Portuguese media is now calling Tasmania the island where the government searches for Gambozinos (a mythical monster of one’s childhood):

http://www.tasmanianfox.com/Tasmanian_Fox/Media_files/publico_tasmania_4_09_final.pdf

An English translation can be found here:

http://www.tasmanianfox.com/Tasmanian_Fox/Media.html

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