Parramatta boss fights back with employment history dossier
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Parramatta boss fights back with employment history dossier

Embattled City of Parramatta council boss Mark Stapleton is fighting back against concerns about his credentials and experience, including with the help of controversial Liberal-aligned lobbyist Joe Tannous.

Mr Stapleton, who was elected on an 8-7 vote among councillors to the job as chief executive of the rapidly growing council, presented a dossier to councillors at a meeting on Monday night that included some references and details about his work history.

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson (left) and  CEO Mark Stapleton, whose work past is under scrutiny.

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson (left) and CEO Mark Stapleton, whose work past is under scrutiny. Credit:City of Parramatta

Some councillors who have supported Mr Stapleton remain convinced he is the best man for the job, while others who had voted for him said they wanted further investigation.

"I have satisfied myself that the CV for Mark Stapleton is absolutely accurate and withstands scrutiny," said Liberal Cr Benjamin Barrak.

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Labor’s Sameer Pandey, another of the eight who installed Mr Stapleton in the $500,000-a-year position in June, said: “We just have to be logical and make sure that we don’t overlook anything."

Liberal councillor Steven Issa, who was on a selection panel that examined chief executive candidates, said: “I am backing a process and that process needs to continue to verify his documentation.”

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The documents Mr Stapleton provided to councillors on Monday include a written reference from former Wallaby Phil Kearns, as well as emails and references from his time working for Leighton Group and John Holland.

The documents do not disclose where he worked immediately prior to joining Parramatta as the council’s director of property in 2017, nor do they say which colleges he obtained qualifications in accountancy and commercial real estate from.

Mr Kearns had told the Herald he cannot remember meeting Mr Stapleton, who included in his job application a recollection of “going through” a $4.5 billion capital raising with Mr Kearns and businessman David Gonski.

But this week Mr Kearns said he had discovered a contact for Mr Stapleton. “So I must have met him,” he said.

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The references include a letter from a former general manager of John Holland, Dennis Brewer, recalling a breakfast meeting he had with Mr Stapleton, Mr Gonski and Mr Kearns in 2008.

And they include a reference from Peter Fulton, a builder operations manager at John Holland when Mr Stapleton worked at the firm in a business development job between 2007 and 2009.

Contacted by the Herald, Mr Fulton initially said he could not remember writing the reference, but later said he had written it. Mr Fulton said he was “extremely surprised” Mr Stapleton would be the chief executive of a council like Parramatta.

“He’s a good talker,” Mr Fulton said.

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Mr Tannous’ company, Cornerstone Group, has been providing advice to Parramatta Council on the issue.

Mr Tannous was recently the subject of discussion at a board meeting of the NSW Liberal Party’s moderate faction, where it is understood factional chief Matt Kean told the meeting Mr Tannous should no longer be able to attend.

Mr Kean, the state Innovation and Better Regulation Minister, said words to the effect that people should not be able to use information obtained at internal party meetings to advance their commercial interests.

Mr Stapleton also wrote to staff on Tuesday saying he was “fully committed” to operating as chief executive. “I favour honesty and transparency and I am more than happy to tackle any questions on the recent topics from our team.”