Councillor ‘vindicated’ after bullying claim review
CITY of Stirling Councillor Elizabeth Re says she feels “vindicated” following a two-year saga over Baci chocolates and wine that sparked a State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) review.
An altercation arose in 2015 between Cr Re and a City hospitality services staff member after she requested special meals at council’s Friday night dinners, including different chocolates and wine.
The SAT finding said Cr Re approached the staff member and confronted her after a council function where other staff members intervened. Cr Re later apologised to the staff member.
The City published a notice of public censure in The West Australian on September 30, 2016, on order from the Local Government Standards Panel, which found Cr Re breahed local government regulations.
The notice said Cr Re had discussed a matter with an employee “in the belief that the employee would suffer detriment”.
However, on June 15 this year, the SAT found that the evidence failed to establish that Cr Re acted in an aggressive manner towards the staff member. It found actions by the Stirling governance manager, who was one of the staff members who intervened during the initial confrontation, were “inflammatory” and “added to the chain of events” that took place.
The SAT has not ordered any clarification of the public censure notice but concluded it was “regrettable” the sanction had already been imposed on Cr Re.
A Department of Local Government spokeswoman said the Local Government Standard Panel was not required to issue a correction about the censure notice of Cr Re.
“The sanction was considered appropriate at the time of the finding and was duly published by the City of Stirling in accordance with the Local Government Act 1995. There are no implications for the Panel regarding the SAT review,” she said.
Through her lawyer, Cr Re said the tribunal on review found that neither element of the complaint had been established and that the employee had not been attacked or bullied by her.
Staff reported Cr Re for bullying behaviour to Worksafe, which completed an investigation and directed the City to display improvement notices throughout the workplace.
Cr Re said the SAT’s decision would form part of a request that would shortly be made to the Worksafe Commissioner to review the notice and the measures taken by the council against Cr Re.
A Stirling spokeswoman said the Worksafe investigation was not related to the incident covered in the SAT findings.
A Worksafe spokeswoman said the Worksafe improvement notice was not directly related to the 2015 incidents referred to in SAT findings but rather to a series of incidents or behaviours at the City of Stirling following complaints from staff.