http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/p...uller-and-mount-stirling-20170320-gv1w8w.html Mount Buller and Mount Stirling ski resort senior management spent more than $85,000 of public money on international family travel, entertaining friends and staff bonuses and prizes, an investigation by the state's probity watchdog has found. A scathing report tabled in Parliament by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass has also found the board of management chairperson misused the Mount Buller resort by living in publicly owned ski accommodation and allowing family and friends to stay without payment. In a further finding, it said the resort's chief executive used taxpayer's money to pay for flights for himself and his family to the United State for what was "primarily" a holiday. Jennifer Hutchinson is the chairperson of the Mount Buller and Mount Stirling Resort management board and John Huber is its chief executive. The chief executive, who is paid more than $200,000, claimed so-called "research and development" provisions in his contract to assist him with regular travel "to the US for holidays". In a withering assessment of this claim, Ms Glass said: "While the charms of a lake house in upstate New York are undeniable, Victorians do not pay taxes to fund public sector employees' private holidays." Responding to the to a draft version of the report, the chief executive said: "The remuneration I receive as the CEO falls short of the remuneration I could command elsewhere." The report said resort funds had also been used to pay for the resort property manager's family travel and accommodation in the French ski fields for "research and development" purposes. "The resort sits on crown land and is managed on behalf of the minister," Ms Glass said. "Mt Buller is no one's personal playground; it is public property and its management is the temporary custodian." The investigation concluded that more than $30,000 of public money was spent on international family travel, entertaining the chief executive's friends, and the provision of prizes to staff including flights and accommodation to interstate tourist destinations. In one email to a former business associate, quoted in the report, the chief executive insisted on offering a former business associate and his family free holiday accommodation. "I will be completely offended if you don't let us look after you," the email says. "You tell me the dates that you want to be up and I'll lock something in for the clan. I have a range of apartments." The report said a further $49,000 had been spent on staff bonuses "without adequate justification or transparency". The investigation was launched after the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission handed over to Ms Glass four protected whistleblower complaints of misuse of public resources by senior management. A subsequent allegation against the chairperson found the resort's publicly owned accommodation, which was meant for short stays by board members on official business such as board meetings, had been misused. This is not the first time senior government figures have landed in trouble over the state's alpine resorts. In 2007 it was revealed that deputy premier John Thwaites had been given free mountain accommodation at Falls Creek from a board of management appointed by him. That followed an Auditor-General's report finding dubious expense claims by senior staff and board members at Victoria's alpine resorts. Ms Glass has now recommended a sweeping overhaul of the governance arrangements for all five of the state's ski resorts. She has also recommended that the Mount Buller and Mount Stirling Resort chief executive repay the cost of US flights (which he has agreed to do), and that the property manager repay the cost of the trip to France (which he has not yet agreed to do). "There is a sound argument that a publicly owned tourist resort should embrace the best of the private sector when appropriate," Ms Glass said. "But it must also never forget that it is not a private business. It has a responsibility to the public when it comes to spending the public's money." The opposition leader Matthew Guy called for a police investigation. "Those matters are a disgrace. If there are people who have been abusing the system of taxpayers' funds to that extent than they should be referred to Victoria Police," he said.