On Monday, January 12, 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald's Exclusive by Kate McClymont
"King of Canterbury's $50,000 lunch bill."
Excerpts from Kate's articles are as follows:
Cash-strapped Canterbury Council has scrapped its immunisation program and closed its swimming pool over winter to save money.
Yet Canterbury ratepayers have forked out almost $50,000 over the past four years for the council's all-powerful General Manager, Jim Montague, to dine at Il Buco, a restaurant in Liverpool Road, Enfield. Most Fridays, the man known as the "King of Canterbury" and his companions place their customary order of carpaccio ($23.00), oysters, followed by the fish of the day ($38.00) and dessert, which is washed down with a $48.00 bottle of Pepperjack wine. His meal tabs came to light after an application made under the Government Information (Public Access) Act (GIPA).
On one day in 2011, Mr. Montague ran up a $1,000 bill, spending $576.50 on lunch at the Italian restaurant, followed by $421.00 at dinner, which included an entree of pan-fried king prawns and veal accompanied by a $105.00 bottle of wine.
The lunches are recorded as "executive lunches", and Mr. Montague, who has run the council for 30 years, approves the receipts with a signature stating: "I have reviewed the invoices for the occasions that I was present and confirm that each occasion related to the conduct of the council's business."
One of his most regular lunch companions is the Labor mayor, Brian Robson, who said, "There's a chance for me to sit down and have a quiet lunch with the general manager on a Friday." He said their meals related to council business.
Mr. Montague, who earns $300,000 a year, said: "I can't imagine why anyone would be interested in my lunchtime habits."
One of Mr. Montague's occasional guests at Il Buco is his friend, Bechara Khouri, once described in State Parliament as a Labor Party "fixer." For years Mr. Khouri has enjoyed close ties to a string of ALP mayors throughout Sydney's inner west and southwestern suburbs.
An associate of Mr. Khouri said, "Bechara makes his money by opening doors for developers." Mr. Montague said he had "no idea what Bechara does for a living." When pressed, he conceded, "I know he knows developers and architects," and that Mr. Khouri acted as a lobbyist.
On the day Fairfax Media attended the restaurant late last year, Mr. Montague was lunching with Cr.Robson, George Khoury, who runs a string of BP service stations, and accountant Graziano De Bortoli, whose client list has included the corrupt former Labor powerbroker, Joe Tripodi. During the lunch, Mr. Montague had a phone conversation with Bechara Khouri.
I personally delivered material in two parts, what appears to be fraudulent development approvals involving the N.S.W. Planning Department and Canterbury City Council. The second part invlves misleading advertisements, including a false address for a development.
This evidence can be found by returning to our website Home Page and click onto: Is Your Council Corrupt?
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