Tumut paramedic and former mayor John Larter is waiting for the results of an investigation by NSW Ambulance, after he criticised their decisions in media outlets including the Tumut and Adelong Times.
Mr Larter spoke out about the decision of Toll Helicopters to leave two former pilots with over a decade of service each without a job, when Toll took over the contract for the SouthCare Helicopter.
He then received a letter from NSW Ambulance informing him that he was being investigated for potentially breaching policy regarding speaking to the media.
Mr Larter said their latest actions have only made him more disappointed in NSW Ambulance – an opinion he’s held since he campaigned for appropriate cold-weather clothing for Tumut paramedics last year.
“It’s a disgrace that they want to talk about free speech in parliament and changing these laws – but at the end of the day they’re able to stifle my career because I’ve spoken out about safety issues and human resources,” he said.
He spoke to the Minister’s Office on Wednesday who said they were preparing a response, but nothing has turned up yet.
Mr Larter said he is “100 per cent certain” that this investigation is related to his battle to have proper clothing designated to local paramedics; a battle he won by taking the issue to the media.
“I’ve got evidence that I’ve been disadvantaged for Acting positions, they don’t respond to any correspondence, they don’t follow due process – I’m still waiting for a response with regard to all those issues I raised at the same time as the thermal gear,” he said.
Mr Larter sent NSW Ambulance a 20-page document in June last year, regarding HR issues, staff being harassed and bullied, manager’s practices, and a lack of procedural fairness, that he said hasn’t been acknowledged by the department.
“I haven’t received any correspondence at all,” he said.
For Mr Larter, the treatment of the pilots who have lost their jobs is inexcusable, and is just the latest in his on-going feud with his employer.
“It’s irresponsible of NSW Ambulance,” he said.
“If somebody has given you that length of service, and provided a professional service for that long – they’re part of the ambulance family, they’re under the same umbrella. We’re supposed to be in a compassionate industry, and I don’t see much of it here.”
He said NSW Ambulance had a duty of care for the SouthCare pilots.
“The Ambulance service will make excuses about these two guys at SouthCare, they’ll say it’s the contractor [Toll] letting them go, not us, but at the end of the day they wrote the contract,” he said.
“Why are they not allowing the helicopter pilot contracts to be transferred? If you’re writing a government contract then you write the rules for the contract, and the first thing you should do is protect the staff.”
Toll took over the responsibility for SouthCare this year, after twenty years of it being in the hands of company CHC. Two out of the four existing pilots will not be staying on with the chopper.
Mr Larter said the two pilots were experienced and capable professionals who knew the region well.