Tasmania’s controversial Fox Eradication Program has been cleared of misconduct following a year-long investigation.
The eradication task force, formerly known as the Fox Free Taskforce, ran from 2002 until 2014 at a cost to taxpayers of $50 million.
An investigation into the management body began in October last year after allegations employees faked and fabricated evidence of foxes living in Tasmania to keep the program running.
The complaint from Independent MP Ivan Dean also suggested physical evidence like scats and carcasses could have been planted to indicate fox populations.
The Integrity Commission handed down its findings, which chief executive Richard Bingham said cleared staff of any misconduct.
“We can definitely say there is not sufficient evidence to base that sort of finding,” he said.
“Putting all of that together we came to the conclusion that there is not sufficient factual basis on which to conclude that there was misconduct.
“From my perspective this finding demonstrates, there is no public interest in further public resources being spent on picking over what happened.”
The commission also found there was no suggestion then minister David Llewellyn had a conflict of interest in balancing both the Primary Industries and Police portfolios.
It did however outline several management and administrative issues that led to inefficiencies, internal conflict and a poor workplace culture within the Fox Eradication Program.
“In any situation in which you look at something that has gone on in the past, you can always find things that could’ve been done better, that was certainly the case in relation to this,” Mr Bingham said.
“Whilst it’s always true that things could have been done better in some respects we do need to acknowledge there was a lot of effort and a lot of hard work that a lot of people put into the program.
“It’s also the case that the operations were under a lot of pressure, there was considerable publicity and scepticism attached to the operation of the programs.”
Dean not accepting findings
The report has done little to silence critics of the program.
Mr Dean, who has also previously made official complaints to the Police Commissioner about the taskforce, said he did not accept the finding.
“When you look at all of the evidence in relation to this matter, there has been the setting up of evidence in many instances,” he said.
“There is no physical evidence that is really clear at all, absolutely none.”
The report made no recommendations, but found the Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment (DPIPWE) must better manage similar programs in the future.
In a statement, the department welcomed the report and said it would look to identify improvements within the organisation.