ONE of Perth council’s most senior employees is leaving to become CEO of Gold Coast Tourism, midway through the state government’s investigation into the city.
Annaliese Battista was the city’s director of economic development and activation, and in internal emails she described lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s “poor” conduct towards staff.
On December 23 2017 she implored CEO Martin Mileham to “take action” over an unsafe workplace caused by poor councillor conduct, citing the lord mayor as the worst offender.
At the time the lord mayor had stood down pending a decision on her drawn-out legal battle over undeclared gifts.
Ms Battista wrote to Mr Mileham; “it is critical to address these conduct issues prior to Mrs Scaffidi’s return to duties on Monday, 8 January 2018, given her poor conduct is clearly the most sustained and persistent and therefore presents the highest risk to staff safety and well-being” through workplace stress.
When Mr Mileham took stress leave saying elected members were bullies, Ms Battista was made acting CEO by a majority of councillors not aligned to the lord mayor – Lexi Barton, Jemma Green, Reece Harley, Steve Hasluck and James Limnios.
Previously Ms Battista had raised concerns internally about how the city was handling one of the lord mayor’s properties – the Grand Central hotel.
A leaked email she sent to the CEO showed she was concerned that the heritage listing of the building – opposed by Ms Scaffidi’s husband Joe – was being repeatedly delayed.
She said it could appear that it was being given “special attention” and there had been an “unreasonable delay” in listing it.
Ms Battista had mostly worked in PR – the RAAF, Western Power, Subiaco council and then the WA Local Government Association – before her stint as marketing manager at Perth council and promotion to director.
She’s due to start at Queensland’s peak tourism body on August 6.
by DAVID BELL