23/06/2022 - 15:52

CCC calls bull on cattle charade

23/06/2022 - 15:52

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A corruption inquiry has made serious misconduct findings about a Murdoch University farm manager's activities.

CCC calls bull on cattle charade
Kim Thomas has been livestock manager at Murdoch University farms since 2003.

Murdoch University has been dragged into a Corruption and Crime Commission investigation about a cattle-for-cash and awards conspiracy involving a member of staff.

According to a CCC report tabled in parliament on Thursday, the livestock manager for the university’s four farming properties was exhibiting bulls at Perth’s Royal Agricultural Show “as though they were his own”.

The CCC concluded that Kim Thomas had engaged in serious misconduct by continuing the charade for years “to win accolades and recognition in the cattle industry”.

“This included the receipt of prize money to which he was not entitled,” the report found. “The investigation established that for years Mr Thomas dishonestly registered Murdoch cattle in other names. He did this in part to promote his status as a breeder.”

An unusual inquiry for the CCC, it began when Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development stopped a truck transporting cattle from one university farm to another.

None of the stock were earmarked, branded, or fitted with the required electronic identification device and, apart from the biosecurity breaches, the department suspected “other questionable conduct” and contacted the CCC.

Mr Thomas, the report said, would register Murdoch cattle under a private stud name to be eligible to enter the Royal Show.

“When the cattle won, Murdoch University did not receive the credit, the publicity or the prize money,” the CCC found. “Mr Thomas used his position and ability to register Murdoch University cattle under different names to benefit himself and others.”

But the livestock manager told the agency there were plenty of occasions when university cattle were recognised and that ensured positive publicity.

“I'm very good at showing the cattle, preparing the cattle,” he said. “We have won over the last 17 years. We have won 10 of the lead steer and heifer competition awards. We have 10 grand champions.”

The CCC said Mr Thomas did not respond to its final report, which acknowledged the benefits Mr Thomas had created for university students.

Murdoch, the report said, had confronted the issues two years ago and made changes to how the farms are oversighted.

"The university has commenced a disciplinary process to deal with the matters identified in the CCC report but cannot comment on individual cases," the university said in a statement to Business News.

"We expect all university employees to undertake their duties with the highest level of integrity and to respect the trust we place in them. The vast majority of Murdoch University employees undertake their duties with commitment, integrity, care and dedication, going above and beyond what is required, and situations like this are disappointing for all of us."

 

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