Councillors’ bid to delay CEO sacking case denied
THE Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has dismissed an application to delay a case involving Logan City Council's former chief executive Sharon Kelsey.
Lawyers for seven councillors, being sued by Ms Kelsey over her sacking, called for the stay order.
The seven councillors wanted proceedings in the QIRC delayed while they faced criminal charges in other courts.
They said the likely publicity associated with any judgment in Mr Kelsey's QIRC hearing could prejudice the fair trial of their criminal charges.
In documents published today, Logan City Council, which is another party in the QIRC hearing, said it did not want a delay.
"The Interim Administrator acknowledges that is not in the best interests of the Logan City Council for the QIRC proceedings to be delayed. However, the success or failure of the council's defence of the QIRC proceedings is dependent upon all parties to the proceedings being in a position to fully and freely participate in them."
Ms Kelsey did not want a delay, citing financial hardship.
In his decision, deputy QIRC Commissioner Daniel O'Connor said he could not grant a stay in proceedings as it "would be probable that Ms Kelsey's contract of employment, which expires on 25 June 2021, would expire before these proceedings are determined".
He said if proceedings were delayed, Ms Kelsey would lose the chance to demonstrate to a new council, once elected, that she ought to be awarded a second contract.
"Equally, even if she was not offered a further contract she would lose the opportunity to work at the council during balance of her contract including the ability to protect her reputation, and her future employment prospects."
He also said the offer of Administrator Tamara O'Shea to pay Ms Kelsey her salary while a stay order was in place, was not sufficient to deal with the prejudice to which Ms Kelsey claims.
Deputy Commission O'Connor also said the QIRC proceedings were at an advanced stage unlike the criminal cases, which he said were "embryonic".
"There is likely to be a significant period of time before the criminal trial is set down for hearing giving some degree of separation between the outcome of these proceedings and the
hearing of the criminal charges," he wrote.
"Moreover, these proceedings have already been the subject of significant media attention and much of it in the public arena. The granting of a stay in these proceedings is not likely to address any concerns the respondents might have in that regard.
He also said he had faith a jury would follow the direction given to them by the trial judge in the criminal proceedings.