Veterinary officer Dr John Cronin has lost his unfair dismissal case against the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The department terminated Dr Cronin’s employment in 2013 after he allegedly informed journalists of the closure of a Toowoomba laboratory for animal disease.
Dr Cronin claims the actual reason behind his dismissal was the revealing of his anonymous whistle-blowing. He reported a failure to meet biosecurity standards at a different facility to Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission [CCC]. However, the CCC revealed his identity, accidentally, in an email to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Dr Cronin worked for the department as a veterinary officer since 1981 and at Biosecurity Queensland and hoped to be reinstated. He was found to have used a departmental mobile phone and email to release private information to the media.
Though the doctor admits to having discussion with journalists, he claims his level of contact was not contravened by the act. He is further accused of clearing the information from his work mobile after being asked to hand it in.
Queensland’s Industrial Relations commission found Dr Cronin had contravened the Public Service Act. Deirdre Swan, the commission’s president found the discussions to be improper and deemed the sacking to be justified.
“The email and phone trail shows that Dr Cronin took his involvement to an unacceptable level when it was clear that he knew that his adverse commentary would be used in the media,” said Swan
“The Applicant’s submission that the CMC e-mail was the trigger for Dr Cronin’s ultimate dismissal is not accepted. Dr Cronin’s conduct and behaviour concerning the Government’s decision to close the Department’s facility in Toowoomba was the reason for his dismissal.”