Sydney Metro boss to depart as questions are raised over Staples’ termination

By Shannon Jenkins

February 26, 2021

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The New South Wales government is now on the hunt for two transport agency bosses, after Sydney Metro chief executive Dr Jon Lamonte announced he would be stepping down, and Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples officially departed.

Transport minister Andrew Constance on Friday said Lamonte was leaving to “pursue an alternate career path overseas”, and his deputy, Rebecca McPhee, would temporarily serve as his replacement.

The announcement has come a day after NSW parliament heard that Staples, who was sacked without reason or notice in November, had rejected Constance’s request to clear trees along state highways just months before he was terminated.

Constance had made the request in a February 2020 letter to Staples, following the Black Summer bushfires.

“I asked the agency to remove the trees back on the side of the Princes Highway and the other highways that had been fire affected so that we did not see communities cut off for weeks on end during a firestorm event. I also did not want — God forbid — kilometres of traffic build-up when a wildfire might hit them and we lose hundreds of Australians,” Constance told the hearing.

The secretary replied five months later, stating that it may be unlawful to clear the trees.

Constance denied that Staples’ rejection of his direction was the reason why he was terminated, but he did say that failing to comply with his request was not “particularly acceptable”.

The minister said that while Staples was “one of the most experienced public works project managers this country has ever seen”, Transport for NSW needed to enter “into a new era and a new direction”.

Staples finished up in the role on February 19, with a payout of $837,584.


Read more: NSW transport secretary sacked without reason


 

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