Mt Baw Baw - Sunday Age August 21st

priderock

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Aug 11, 2010
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Ski boss accused of rorting Baw Baw Cameron Houston
August 21, 2011


Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort chief executive Leona Turra.
THE chief executive of Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort is being investigated over allegations of serious impropriety and financial mismanagement, sparking fresh concerns about the management of Victoria's ski fields, which receive millions of dollars in government funding each year.

Leona Turra has been accused of rorting the organisation's corporate and marketing budgets and providing free lift passes, food and alcohol to family members.

The resort's management board has appointed consultancy firm Deloitte to conduct an independent inquiry following complaints from resort staff.

Advertisement: Story continues below Environment Minister Ryan Smith told The Sunday Age: ''These are serious and concerning allegations and the appropriate action will be taken following the outcome of the independent review.''

Several sources have told The Sunday Age that the resort was losing money, despite receiving $9.3 million in public funding from the Department of Sustainability and Environment over the past five years. Last year, the resort lost $117,897 but in June the board approved a three-year extension of Ms Turra's contract and a $30,000 salary increase, taking her annual remuneration to more than $200,000.

Since the ski season began in June, Ms Turra is alleged to have provided complimentary hospitality to more than 10 relatives, which is believed to have been paid for out of the corporate, marketing and public relations expense accounts.

The 60-year-old bureaucrat Ms Turra has also been accused of inappropriately appointing family members to lucrative positions at the popular tourist destination about 120 kilometres east of Melbourne.

Ms Turra's son, Warrick Mann, is the information technology manager at the resort, despite living in the Latrobe Valley and working as a full-time teacher at Traralgon Secondary College. At least two other family members, including her husband and daughter-in-law, are also believed to have been given seasonal work on the mountain.

Mr Mann and his wife, Caroline, recently went on a $5000 skiing junket to Mount Hotham that was allegedly paid for by a budget controlled by Ms Turra, according to several sources.

The appointment of former Labor MP Ian Maxfield as human resources manager has also attracted criticism. Mr Maxfield was ordered to complete an anger management course in 2002 after he physically confronted Liberal MP Terry Mulder, who is now Transport Minister.

Ms Turra and Mr Mann both said they could not discuss any of the claims while the matters were being investigated. Board chairman Ralph Booth said hospitality provided to Ms Turra's relatives could have been covered by a private expense account she paid for.

Despite reporting losses in four of the past five years, Mr Booth defended Ms Turra's performance and the $30,000 pay rise. ''It's the resort that's losing money, not her. It could have been a lot worse. I'm well aware of the dire financial situation, but without substantial capital expansion by the government, things won't get better,'' he said.

In 2004 Ms Turra resigned from a $300,000 role as chief executive of Central Gippsland Health Service days before the entire board was sacked by former health minister Bronwyn Pike. After police and ombudsman inquiries, Ms Turra - then known as Leona Mann - was found to have inappropriately approved $103,000 in payments to the board's former chairman Dr Allan Wain for business-class flights, car hire and telephone costs.

The allegations at Mount Baw Baw follow an audit report by KPMG in 2007, which uncovered a litany of problems with corporate credit cards and conflicts of interests involving five boards that control Victoria's ski fields.

The Age revealed in 2006 that former environment minister John Thwaites received free ski trips and hospitality from the alpine boards he appointed.


Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/ski-bo...l#ixzz1Vc1T68af
 
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weerab

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I've also heard that she was buying up lodges cheaply when they went out of business. Also, if you rang up Baw Baw for accomodation you would be directed to one of HER lodges.
 

priderock

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Aug 11, 2010
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I heard that too Weerab. I also heard she owns one of the lodges privately and runs the Baw Baw booking service. If that is the case no wonder the words conflict of interest and rorting are in the article. And the Board is defending her ???
 

the_guru

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Oh my god. I never would have though!!
Hope they aren't doing this at Hotham.
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PolePlant

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priderock said:
And the Board is defending her ???

They always do because they have their snouts in the trough too.
Note the entire board was sacked in the last place she worked.
 
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annabell

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Aug 23, 2001
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With our long time interest in the mountain (40 + yrs) we will be watching this closely. There have been strides forward, but at the expense of stakeholders, and with great staff dissatisfaction leading to high turn over. Most are tired of feeling like they are encroaching on her mountain & being treated as naughty school boys.
 

Hunter

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If proven true, I would be very angry if I was a stakeholder, either on or off the mountain, especially tough for a small marginal mountain, they should pursue every cent.
 

priderock

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Aug 11, 2010
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Agree annabell and Hunter .. I too have been a long time visitor to Baw Baw and have been able to get to know some of the private stakeholders and staff quite well. Some of the practices I have heard they have been subjected to by the mountain management are terrible, bordering on intimidation, bullying and outright corruption. Those responsible should be held accountable - I know I would be in my job and I have nothing to do with government. How good would BB have been if it had been run properly .... Go Minister Smith !!
 

annabell

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I am currently on the mountain. Is it wrong that we have just seen a paper shredder being carried into the resort management office???
 
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priderock

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Did hear before the same thing happened when we had the change of government. Maybe the writing was on the wall then ?? How big was the shredder annabell ???
 

annabell

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It was a good size one. They may have burnt out the old one, and had to call for back up!
 

Bogong

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annabell said:
I am currently on the mountain. Is it wrong that we have just seen a paper shredder being carried into the resort management office???
eek.gif
Even if the the timing of the paper shredding is a coincidence (unlikely), you think they would be a bit more discreet about that sort of thing now that they know they are being closely watched. I guess it's indicative of the "sense of entitlement" that reputedly pervades Baw Baw management.

But I hope it doesn't hurt the resort overall. Despite the (alleged) dodginess of the management in some respects, Baw Baw has come a long way in the past decade with it's general image restored and it has an air of vibrancy again!
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teckel

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annabell said:
I am currently on the mountain. Is it wrong that we have just seen a paper shredder being carried into the resort management office???
On a Sunday? Deliveries don't normally happen on a Sunday, unless it's extremely urgent! Also admin at resorts is at an absolute minimum on weekends - real admin really only occurs Mon to Fri. On weekends, they only do what is necessary to keep the resort running.
 
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priderock

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Well said Bogong... Baw Baw is a great place and whatever the outcome of the investigation will remain so.. How sad (alleged) corporate greed intrudes into the well-being of the resort, at the expense of the overall snow community. As for the shredder - can't hide everything !!
 

annabell

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That is true Bogong, as I said there have been some great strides forward, but very little incentive for the stakeholders to move forward with them. We are always given the impression that it is an "or else" kind of proposal. There are many unhappy stakeholders who will be quietly cheering that others have finally noticed what we have been seeing for a very long time.
 

annabell

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Tekel, it was not a delivery, it was carried in by a staff member. There is quite a few staff in the office for a very quiet Sunday on a mountain with no snow! Visitor numbers will be probably the lowest for an August weekend in many many years. I cannot recall an August weekend this quiet.
Leona is also very much a presence on the mountain today, walking the mountain, very much wanting to be seen.
 

Oldie

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As a Baw Baw regular for 30 years, I sincerely hope that the government will continue to support this great little mountain, regardless of the outcome of this current problem!
(And I also hope that there is another dump soon!!!)
 

Old_Towie

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Aug 28, 2008
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Hmmmmm


Maybe Now we will be able to Get Free Skiing for the Over 70's for 7 days a week not just MidWeek.

I haven't given up

Looking forward to 2012 and beyond.
 

priderock

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Aug 11, 2010
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I'd be happy to see the fantastic efforts of the staff, stakeholders and genuine Baw Baw community rewarded with positive recognition for what they achieve, rather than this infectious rorting and pillaging of the "great little mountain"
 

the_guru

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May 30, 2002
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Why is the government invovled anyway?
Sounds a bit suss?
Vic ski resorts should be private companies.
No more free trips.
The travel industry was shut down years ago. When it came to freebies.
Why are the Vic ski resorts still giving free holidays to media and others?
Someone has to pay.
Let's steal there budget to give to others.
 

bawbawbel

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"Despite reporting losses in four of the past five years, Mr Booth defended Ms Turra's performance and the $30,000 pay rise. ''It's the resort that's losing money, not her. It could have been a lot worse. I'm well aware of the dire financial situation, but without substantial capital expansion by the government, things won't get better,'' he said."

So, how were they intending to make BBaw solvent by further "substantial capital expansion"?

End of an era, thanks for all the fish...
 

priderock

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Aug 11, 2010
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With all due respect, Leona has done a fabulous job raising the profile and facilities at Baw Baw.

Agree Teckel - but isn't that why we tax-payers apparently fork out more than $200,000 for her salary

I always give praise when due, and go for the jugular when due. Probably the thing I can abide least is dishonesty and corruption.

Also agree-jugular time !!
 

teckel

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bawbawbel said:
" but without substantial capital expansion by the government, things won't get better,'' he said."

So, how were they intending to make BBaw solvent by further "substantial capital expansion"?

End of an era, thanks for all the fish...
What he's saying is that more and better facilities funded by the government, will improve BB's bottom line. Can't argue with that. He's not saying that BB has to create those facilities out of its regular budget.
 
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bawbawboarder

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something in this article is a but fishy!!

I used to work at BB, I still know people that do. What can you bet that this is from pissed off seasonal staff who f'd up and want to get their own back, I heard their were a few resignations on Sunday, very fishy to me.

I believe Leona own's the apartment that her son stayed in, so of course "she controls the budget" ITS HERS! also, if you work in the industry, its not hard to ask the boss "any chance of organising a few free tickets" I used to do it when I was instructing up there.

Shredder - could it have been being used elsewhere during the season and just being returned to admin to be put away as the season is pretty much done. COULD IT HAVE BEEN USED TO DESTROY CREDIT CARD DETAILS???? Everyuthing is so electronic these days a shredder is pretty much useless!

Accom - Have any of you EVER actually called the booking service? I have used it a few times. I have stayed in Kelly's (What a dump!), Cascade Aptartments (private owned), Tempest, and WF Waters (Scouting). I have NEVER been referred to Leona directly. I believe she owns 1 lodge and its a small lodge.

HR Manager - hey wow, lets attack the person that may have been about to fire you?

.... yet again, everyone believe EVERYTHING they read ...... its in the SUNDAY paper, if it was ACTUAL news, it would have been in Monday - Friday. Remember, slander is slander, even if you post it one facebook, twitter, The Age, or Ski.com.au.
 

bawbawboarder

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I believe they were called in PRIOR to the article on different matters, and I also believe most of that has also been dis-credited but they must go through the motions - as yes they are serious allergations

It is very easy to sling mud, ever not been pissed off at your boss?

Its nice and easy to exagurate the truth to try to remove someone from power - the last laugh will be Leona's if she is proven innocent. Will there be things found "innapropriate", most likely, Have the EVER seen a business that is 100% squeaky clean? Will most of the article be found to be rubbish? probably, and that will raise a slander case against the "Staff" and The Age. I can pick out too many errors myself without know all the details.
 

Bogong

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Interesting to hear someone with unreserved support for Leona.

Can we have a statement that you have no connection with her, her family or the ALP faction she's associated with?
If so, your statement will have a lot more credence.
smile.gif
 
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bawbawboarder

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I have no relation to Leona, other then a FORMER employee - and I actually vote Labour.

Has she pissed people off? of course, me included, but you dont get radical change in culture without pissing people off. I have been going to BB since the 90's. The change is massive over the term that Leona has been CEO. If BB was running the way it used too, it would be shut, it is as simple as that. The fact that the Govt is still backing the Resort, must rate somewhat of a positive for what she has done.

It used to be damn near impossible to get accom on the reosrt until the booking service started - unless you knew someone.

Also, remember that the "Current" financial funding is from the Labour Govt, not the ALP and it does benefit us all. I hear that the old "Big Hill Platter" is being rebuilt this summer, and the "Big Hill Poma" is going to return to going to the top. rebuilding a lift does not come without financial backing from someone. All Resorts get some funding, hell, Hotham got a $40 mill grant to get mains power. BB is aiming on geting south face road sealed in the next 3 years - not that would be awesome - also, thanks to Leona.
 

the_guru

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The resorts in Vic should be investigated, simple as that.
Baw Baw is just the start. They all do dodgy stuff.
Lived and worked in the industry for years.. Many.
Why wouldn't you if you could get away with it. Unfortunately the people in place aren't smart enough to do that.
 

bawbawbel

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"Also, remember that the "Current" financial funding is from the Labour Govt, not the ALP and it does benefit us all. I hear that the old "Big Hill Platter" is being rebuilt this summer, and the "Big Hill Poma" is going to return to going to the top. rebuilding a lift does not come without financial backing from someone. All Resorts get some funding, hell, Hotham got a $40 mill grant to get mains power. BB is aiming on geting south face road sealed in the next 3 years - not that would be awesome - also, thanks to Leona."

OK,except for the road seal, none of those jobs require "substantial capital expansion by the government" unless Bawbaw now gets a pittance or the system is unbelievably inefficient.
This year we got a little road to a walk-up boarder run.
Any other improvements?
 

BawBawSkier

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Hello bawbawboareder Leona


If you cant back yourself up, who will?

I particularly liked the deliberate mis-spellings
 
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bawbawbel

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Leona is a Baw Baw Boarder, but she is well educated.
Makes lots of enemies because she trims dead wood in a minute, and moves on.
Bit harsh for some, no doubt.
Learns from mistakes, but shouldn't compound them.
So don't bulldose the old tubing park, leave it as a gate entry.
Full length poma at the new Chairlift run.

I liked the woopsidoos between Champagne and Maltese, even when they were hard and bard.
Didn't like Maltese remaining closed because "they might make some woopsidoos".
Over 70's will bring thier children AND grandchildren, encourage them.
Watch out for Witch Hunting...
 

VSG

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bawbawbel said:
Leona is a Baw Baw Boarder, but she is well educated.
Makes lots of enemies because she trims dead wood in a minute, and moves on.
Bit harsh for some, no doubt.
Learns from mistakes, but shouldn't compound them.
So don't bulldose the old tubing park, leave it as a gate entry.
Full length poma at the new Chairlift run.

I liked the woopsidoos between Champagne and Maltese, even when they were hard and bard.
Didn't like Maltese remaining closed because "they might make some woopsidoos".
Over 70's will bring thier children AND grandchildren, encourage them.
Watch out for Witch Hunting...

Well said, esoteric one.
smile.gif
 
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