“Council plumbing boss in hot water” and fined for illegal contracting is a headline that was hardly surprising for many Gold Coast plumbers who have had to deal with Keith Farrelly and were aware of the nepotism that has gone unchecked for Ethical Standards of Keith Farrelly from City of Gold Coastover 20 years.

For years now if you had dealings with the City of Gold Coast’s council plumbing and drainage department you would become aware of what has been common knowledge within the plumbing industry. That is that the City of Gold Coast’s, Plumbing & Drainage department and in particular the plumbing inspectors are a deeply troubled organisation. Bullying, abuse of power, nepotism, cronyism and double standards are a daily occurrence.

Keith Farrelly fined for illegal contractingOn 13 April 2012 the Gold Coast Bulletin published the following story on page 5 as reprinted below:

Plumbing Boss in Hot Water

“The man in charge of the Gold Coast City Council’s plumbing department has been fined $2000 for carrying out unlawful building work. Keith Farrelly, the plumbing and drainage co-ordinator, was caught installing a hot-water system without a contractor licence.

While the department can be responsible for issuing infringement notices, Mr Farrelly claims he did not know he needed a licence to do the work.

A council spokesman said it would not take action against him because it did not relate to his role with the organisation. Mr Farrelly is appealing the fine. 

Building Services Authority general manager Ian Jennings confirmed Mr Farrelly had installed a solar hot-water system without holding the appropriate class contractor licence.

The council spokesman said Mr Farrelly was doing the work free for his nephew. “(He was) unaware he needed a contractors’ licence to do this work which, under the Plumbing and Drainage Act, is regarded as minor work,” he said.

The spokesman said Mr Farrelly’s role involved dealing with requirements under the Plumbing and Drainage Act, not the Queensland building services contractors’ requirements.”

For struggling Gold Coast building and plumbing companies to discover that Keith Farrelly, the coordinator of Council’s Plumbing Department was fined $2000 by the Building Services Authority, (BSA) but now the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, (QBCC) for carrying out unlicensed plumbing work is bad enough. To then find out he is still working for the city is an absolute disgrace.

Farrelly’s implausible excuse? He was helping out a relative at no charge. City of Gold Coast’s Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit along Senior bureaucrats have obviously found this implausible excuse acceptable. Farrelly is a senior council officer with in excess of 20 years employment at the City of Gold Coast council. Farrelly hands out fines for breaches of the plumbing regulations and building codes on a daily basis yet we are expected to accept that he did not know his legal obligation under that same code.

Again, those senior bureaucrats and the Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit knew of this and chose to take no action. This raises the question of how much more remains hidden as their duty is clear. Many within the council are asking why the apparent protection of an officer who should have been immediately dismissed or at least suspended to enable an independent investigation to occur. There are many plumbers and former council inspectors on the Gold Coast who will happily give the Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit plenty of evidence.

The City of Gold Coast needs to get to the bottom of this and investigate if this obvious protectionist attitude is endemic throughout council and what else they are hiding. There should be no tolerance for this kind of cronyism in the council and those responsible should be right now entertaining the prospect of joining the unemployment line which they have had a large part in creating on the Gold Coast.

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