Fong Gonged

The most highly paid civil servant in the country, chaplain and footy bigwig Neale Fong, has fallen off his golden Health Department perch.

Fongy has been under investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission for some months in relation to his disclosure (or lack of it) about dealings with Brian Burke. Appearing to suffer from the same amnesia affecting so many Western Australian politicians, Fongy had claimed he “couldn’t recall” the emails in question.

Today the CCC tabled their report, and Fongy promptly resigned his position, though the Minister has confirmed he will still receive his leaving entitlements. Not that he’s likely to need them after wallowing in an annual salary package well over $600, 000 for the past few years.

PerthNow reports that he now faces disciplinary action and possible prosecution. From the report:

The major issue of concern resulting from the investigation of Dr Fong and his relationship with Mr Burke is in regard to Dr Fong’s representation to his Minister of his relationship and email correspondence with Mr Burke. In the Commission’s assessment Dr Fong, in his capacity as Director General of the DOH, made misrepresentations to his Minister, DOH staff and the media culminating in him maintaining untruthfully in his evidence to the Commission that he had no recollection of any of the 33 email communications between him and Mr Burke identified above.

Dr Fong consistently maintained that there was no personal or professional business relationship between himself and Mr Burke, and that there were no emails.

Witnesses have described Dr Fong as a remarkably astute person with an immense capacity to absorb information, who has excellent recall and can produce facts and figures as required. The Commission accepts that to be so.

In the Commission’s assessment, it is inconceivable that Dr Fong had not, could not, and did not recall that there were any email communications between himself and Mr Burke between August 2004 and June 2006. The Commission is positively satisfied on the balance of probabilities that at all relevant times he well knew at least that there had been email communications between them and the general nature of those.

The Commission accepts that in relation to minor or “circular” emails Dr Fong could have legitimately forgotten their content and/or existence, particularly given the communications were sporadic, the 24 emails were spaced over some 22 months and that they were in the main initiated by Mr Burke. What is unlikely is that Dr Fong would forget communications in regards to Smiths Beach, Amcom and approaching individuals on behalf of Mr Burke. The Commission does not accept that he had no recollection whatsoever of any email contact at all between August 2004 and June 2006.

Under examination by the Commission Dr Fong was unable to provide a plausible explanation for his lack of recall. In the Commission’s assessment Dr Fong deliberately attempted to remove or distance himself from his relationship with Mr Burke.

Categories: Politics

1 reply

  1. Only in Australia… would the protagonist be referred to as “Fongy”.
    That is all.
    Helen’s last blog post..Almost Famous

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