TasTAFE chief executive to resign from role following Integrity Commission report

The chief executive of TasTAFE intends to resign from his role following Integrity Commission findings, Tasmanian Parliament was told on Tuesday. 

The commission’s report, which was tabled in Parliament, investigated a “complaint of an alleged conflict of interest against senior executive officers of TasTAFE”.

According to the report, a complaint was made in February 2016 which alleged that TasTAFE chief executive Stephen Conway “provided favourable treatment to his friend Lori Hocking, a senior executive at TasTAFE”. 

Mr Conway was contacted for comment. 

The report said the deputy’s base salary progressed from $121,318 to $176,167 in about 12 months. 

“The commitments made by Mr Conway included payment for regular flights between Hobart and Adelaide for Ms Hocking to visit her family, payment of Ms Hocking’s rental accommodation in Hobart, and a $6000 ‘bonus’ on each anniversary of Ms Hocking’s appointment,” the report said.

“Additionally, the investigation has identified Mr Conway’s provision to Ms Hocking of an ‘incentive payment scheme’ worth approximately $30,000 in benefits beyond Ms Hocking’s contractual entitlements. 

“The investigation identified no other staff member of TasTAFE who has been the beneficiary of similar treatment.” 

The commission said the government should act on its recommendations within 12 months, but Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said it would act immediately. 

Mr Rockliff told Parliament that Premier Will Hodgman had already informed Mr Conway that he would not be reappointed to his role next year, but Mr Conway had indicated his intention to resign. 

“The principles of natural justice must be applied to these situations, any individuals are entitled to the presumption of innocence unless it is otherwise proven,” Mr Rockliff said. 

“While these matters are serious, there has been no suggestion by the Integrity Commission that the matters are of a criminal nature.

“It is my intention to appoint an interim CEO as soon as possible to ensure the audit is conducted thoroughly and successfully, and to ensure the workforce is settled and remains focused.” 

Mr Rockliff said himself and the TasTAFE chairman would oversee an independent audit of the institution’s recruitment processes.