Anson cleared of wrongdoing in Wilma-gate scandal

AN investigation into the Wilma Wright affair has cleared Warrnambool City Council chief executive Bruce Anson of wrong-doing.

But the matter is far from finished, with councillor Peter Hulin saying there were a lot of questions yet to be answered, and that he was planning to ask them at tonight’s council meeting.

The investigation by the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate examined whether Mr Anson had “influenced either directly or indirectly” a letter published in The Standard during the Warrnambool City Council election campaign period that disparaged Cr Hulin, then-councillor Jennifer Lowe and then-candidate Peter Sycopoulis.

The letter was later discovered to have been written under a pseudonym — Mrs Wilma Wright — by Mr Anson’s son Jacob. 

This triggered a complaint spearheaded by Cr Hulin, who alleged that Mr Anson was behind the Wilma Wright letter and a smear campaign to turn voters against himself, Ms Lowe and Cr Sycopoulis.

A response from the inspectorate, which clears Mr Anson in the “Wilma-gate” affair, will be tendered to the council meeting tonight with the accompanying recommendation that “the letter... be noted”.

The inspectorate’s response reads: “The inspectorate’s inquiries have determined that, on the balance of the information acquired, the allegations made … are without merit and that no breaches of the (Local Government Act 1989) have been identified and, as such, no further action will be taken by this office in respect to this matter”.

Yesterday, Mr Anson said the inspectorate’s response “says it all”.

“It’s been investigated and there’s been no wrong-doing found,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s it.”

Mr Anson refused to comment further.

But Cr Hulin signalled that in his view, the matter was far from closed.

“I think the question has to be asked what sort of investigation was done,” he said.

“Did they (the inspectorate) come to Warrnambool and confiscate computers and do an audit on them?

“They’re the sort of things that need to be answered. And they’re the questions that will be asked (tonight).

“It’s far from being said and done. I think the people of Warrnambool need to know exactly what’s taken place in this matter.”

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