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Wastewater independent inquiry head appointed

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Whanganui District Council – 6 July 2016

Whanganui District Council chief executive Kym Fell has announced the appointment of Robert Domm to head the independent inquiry into the failed wastewater treatment plant.

At a public workshop on Monday, the council agreed to proceed with an independent inquiry to ensure that the Council and community understand the circumstances and Council processes which led to the failure of the old plant.

Robert Domm is a highly experienced senior manager with experience over the past 15 years as a public sector CEO in Australia and New Zealand, including seven years in local government. Currently a director of his own property and management business in Sydney, Robert was until last year the CEO at Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd, a company operated by Auckland Council.

He has also served as CEO at the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the Redfern-Waterloo Authority and the City of Sydney, as well as being a former Managing Director of the Australian Technology Park Ltd. He has served on the boards of six organisations including two companies.

A qualified legal practitioner, Robert holds a Master of Business Administration from Deakin University, a Master of Labour Law and Relations from the University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the Australian National University.

In August 2014 he was awarded the Order of Timor-Leste for his past humanitarian assistance towards the people of that new nation.

Mr Fell said “the inquiry is very important for the Whanganui community to understand the facts surrounding the failure of the plant in 2012”.

“It was essential that we appointed the right person to lead the inquiry and I’m pleased to have been able to engage someone of Robert Domm’s calibre. He is completely independent, highly experienced and we are fortunate that he has a window of time available to undertake this investigation.”

The inquiry is expected to take up to 12 weeks and will cost in the order of $100,000.

Roberts History

Published Wednesday 3 September 2014

Robert Domm has been awarded The Order of Timor-Leste, the highest honour awarded by the East Timorese government, in recognition of his humanitarian contribution to East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia.

Robert was presented with the honour by the President of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, Taur Matan Ruak, at a ceremony in the capital city of Dili in 2014

Robert first visited East Timor in the early 1970s as a merchant seaman working on ships supplying the then Portuguese colony from Darwin, Australia. Following Indonesia’s invasion of the territory in 1975 and its resultant closure by the Indonesian military, Robert became politically active on a number of fronts in support of East Timor’s legal rights to self-determination and justice.

In January 1989, he was one of the first outsiders to visit the by then Indonesian colony after it was opened to tourists after 14 years of isolation by Jakarta. The following year, in September 1990, Robert journeyed to the mountains of East Timor as a freelance journalist and, with the active assistance of the Clandestine Resistance, he interviewed resistance commander Xanana Gusmao for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This was the first direct media contact with the resistance leadership in the 15 years of enforced military isolation by the Indonesian authorities.

Robert’s world-exclusive interview brought new international attention and diplomatic support to the cause of East Timor’s independence struggle.

Robert went on to write and speak widely about the continuation of the armed resistance to Indonesia’s occupation and the growth and strength of the Clandestine Resistance, particularly amongst the new generation of Timorese youth.

In 1992, Robert co-authored with Mark Aarons the book ‘East Timor: A Western Made Tragedy’ which cast further attention on East Timor’s struggle for freedom. Later, along with Australian and East Timorese colleagues in Sydney, he helped establish the East Timor Relief Association to provide further political and humanitarian support for the people of East Timor.

The Indonesian Government was finally pressured by the international community to accept a referendum on East Timor’s future governance status. In 1999, the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence in a United Nations supervised ballot. The Indonesian military, responsible for many human rights abuses, was forced to withdraw from the territory and Australian and New Zealand armed forces played a key role in maintaining peace and security.

In 2002, while serving as Chief Executive Officer at the City of Sydney, Robert provided resources and sent some of the City’s key New Years Eve events staff to East Timor to assist organisation of the upcoming independence ceremony and celebrations in May of that year. At the invite of the United Nations, Robert visited the capital Dili in May 2002 for the declaration of independence of the new nation of Timor Leste.


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