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Logan Council saga: Ex-CEO's unfair dismissal claims thrown out

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The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has ruled against sacked Logan City Council CEO Sharon Kelsey in her unfair dismissal case against her former employer.

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In a final twist to a long and bitter saga which sparked criminal charges against eight former Logan councillors, only to embarrass Queensland’s Corruption watchdog when the charges were thrown out, the commission ruled against Kelsey’s application for reinstatement to the council.

QIRC vice-President Daniel O’Connor said the claims against the council and its former councillors should be dismissed.

The ruling follows the sensational withdrawal two weeks ago of fraud changes against the councillors brought by the Crime and Corruption Commission. Prosecutors told the Brisbane Magistrates Court they would offer no evidence on the charges.

The CCC justified the charges by accusing the councillors of causing detriment to Kelsey by voting to sack her after receiving reports of her poor performance in the role. Kelsey claimed she was a whistleblower exposing alleged corruption at the council.

The charges led to the Palaszczuk Government’s sacking of the entire council in 2019, leaving resident without local representation until elections last year.

Despite the dropping of the fraud charges, CCC chair Alan MacSporran has vigorously defended the commission and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the CCC’s actions.

Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive Greg Hallam said the “truth had been laid bare” by the QIRC ruling and the CCC was guilty of an “abuse of process”.

“If the matter could not get through the civil industrial relations tribunal due to the lack of evidence, how could a rational person think a superior criminal court would find against the former councillors?” Hallam asked.

“The criminal prosecution should never have been brought against the group of former Logan councillors.”

“These former councillors were vindicated in the Brisbane Magistrates Court when the CCC’s charges against them were thrown out, and they have been further vindicated today.”

“This does not change the fact that their livelihoods and reputations have been ruined and a duly elected council wrongly dismissed. The Government can no longer ignore the need for an independent inquiry.”

In his ruling, O’Connor was critical of Kelsey’s evidence to the commission.

‘Overall, I did not find Ms Kelsey to be an impressive witness,” he said.

“She was unwilling to accept or to contemplate that there may have been some room for improvement or that on reflection she may have done something differently, or not at all.”

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