Allegations councillor over-claimed on childcare
A Labor councillor and mother of two is being investigated over allegations she over-claimed thousands of dollars in childcare fees.
The expenses of Cumberland councillor Ola Hamed are being investigated by her colleagues at the Western Sydney council amid accusations she is overcharging ratepayers.
The Granville ward councillor denies the allegations.
Cumberland Council general manager Hamish McNulty said: "Cumberland City Council has received a number of inquiries concerning councillor Ola Hamed which relates to the inappropriate use of councillor expenditure.
"We are treating inquiries seriously and as a result have ordered a comprehensive audit of all councillor expenses reimbursement claims.
"Preliminary investigations warrant us referring this matter to a full independent audit."
On March 18 Ms Hamed attended a 31-minute council meeting.
Internal council documents reveal Ms Hamed charged $150 for five hours of childcare for two children.
On February 19 those same documents show she charged $150 for five hours of care. The council meeting ran for one hour and 45 minutes.
On November 6 last year the council meeting went for two hours and 56 minutes. She charged the council for six hours of care, costing $180.
Mr McNulty said in the event that any findings of concern arise from council's independent investigation "these matters will be referred to the appropriate authorities, including the Office of Local Government".
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The council's policy said councillors can claim up to $5000 per year "for attendance at official business, plus reasonable travel from the principal place of residence".
Ms Hamed lives about 10 minutes away from the council chambers at Merrylands.
"To insinuate that carers allowance is only relevant to time spent in the chamber is false and misleading because the policy allows for any time spent on 'official business'," she said.
"Official business does not mean time spent in chamber. I never claim travel.
"Claiming childcare while attending a workshop, community meeting or council events all constitute official business."
When asked what official business she attended on these specific days, Ms Hamed did not provide a response.
"All claims have been in accordance with the policy and approved by council on the basis of civic duties I was performing at the time," she said.
Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou said: "We are treating these allegations very seriously and as a result have ordered a comprehensive audit of all councillor expenses reimbursement claims".
Originally published as Allegations Labor councillor over-claimed on childcare