you’re reading...


Heritage listing, $40k-demands, and allegations of misconduct

Fresh support for the heritage value of Flynn’s school to be formally recognised has emerged as the Australian Institute of Architects have placed it on the Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture.

Community spokesman Roger Nicoll welcomed the news as he reported it to the ACT Budget Estimates Committee, but said he was disappointed by the government’s response.

“With the claims made about looking after heritage at Flynn, we would have thought the government would welcome news of this greater recognition of heritage significance,” said Mr Nicoll.

However, within hours of being given the good news, the government sent a letter through its solicitors attacking the right of the Flynn community groups to exist and suddenly demanding that the community come up with $40,000 in security of costs to progress an ACT Supreme Court appeal.

“We believe this falls well outside model litigant guidelines, at the least because the matter has been before the ACT Supreme Court for several months and is of great public interest,” said Mr Nicoll.

The absence of Flynn from the 1996 list was used by the ACT Heritage Council as a main defence for not giving Flynn formal heritage status on the ACT Heritage Register.

Flynn representatives, Roger Nicoll and Shirley Pipitone also gave evidence of bureaucratic and budgetary mismanagement to the Estimates Committee, and asked the Estimates Committee to press for suspension of works at the Flynn site pending a full inquiry into allegations of mishandling and misdemeanours dating back to 2006.

“The documents we have show a series of misdemeanours include falsification of meeting dates and minutes; false and misleading advice and evidence to Ministers, the Assembly and its committees; serious and undeclared conflicts of interest; deceptive and dishonest engagement; and behaviour contrary to the Public Sector Management Act,” Mr Nicoll said.

Some of the more serious claims are now the subject of two independent investigations, including one with the ACT Ombudsman.

Events of the past days provide the strongest evidence yet that, contrary to their claims, the DHCS has little or no regard for the local community or heritage values as the Minister gagged Flynn community members from speaking at a local function—making them feel unwelcome in their own community centre.

Community members are also concerned that the extra $4 million allocated for unidentified tenants in 2011–12 would again ignore the Flynn community, damage heritage values and provide none of the needed local services.

The Flynn community is now asking for an independent inquiry into the conduct of ACT Government departments and officers involved in the series of misdemeanors.

“The costs of closing the school have now blown out to well over $8 million when you include the $4 million to move a childcare centre and all the others costs to the government and local community,” Mr Nicoll said.

“At the same time this budget allocates a further $5.6 million to expand a nearby primary school to make room for more students. That’s almost $14 million that you can now say is a direct cost of closing Flynn’s school and community centre.”

“We have called on the Committee to seek much better value for money through a multi-use local community centre and school at Flynn. This has previously been quoted at $2 million but even if it was $4 million there would still be a big benefit to ratepayers.”

Images from Flynn

Angles on the textured concrete walls


Flynn grounds

Landscape setting & grounds

Enrico Taglietti visting the school he designed

History and design

Memorial to John Flynn

Memorial to John Flynn