Coun­cil­lor ‘vin­di­cated’ af­ter bul­ly­ing claim re­view

Stirling Times - - News -

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.

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