Fraser Coast CEO Ken Diehm.
Fraser Coast CEO Ken Diehm. Alistair Brightman

Unreasonable customer policy back on council agenda

CONTROVERSIAL laws that could ban problem customers and serial community pests from contacting council staff is back on the agenda.

Tabled in October last year, the Fraser Coast Regional Council's Unreasonable Customer Behaviour Policy outlined actions that could be taken against residents who are threatening, aggressive or disruptive to council staff.

Councillors voted to delay their decision on the proposed new policy until further legal advice was sought.

Fraser Coast CEO Ken Diehm confirmed independent legal advice had been received which supported the policy as "a matter of good governance".

"The policy will be consistent with the Ombudsman's Managing Unreasonable Complainant Conduct Manual," Mr Diehm told the Chronicle.

"The council has a duty of care to ensure staff are not abused, vilified and subjected to repeated vexatious complainants."

In the latest council agenda, legal firm MacDonnells Law have suggested minor amendments for the policy, including granting the CEO and their delegate "some greater flexibility in their approach" and broadening the policy to cover people who may not be council customers.

Councillors will vote on the amended policy at Wednesday's meeting.

If passed, the policy would give CEO Ken Diehm sweeping power to assess instances of unreasonable behaviour and take action.

Actions outlined in the policy range from banning people from making phone or email contact with staff, banning access to council buildings and blocking people on council social media accounts.

Council documents reveal staff often receive letters from people reiterating "the same information that has been supplied and investigated previously".

"There are multiple examples within our system of over 100 pieces of correspondence being generated after the initial decision has been made and in one case over 500 pieces of correspondence from an individual are related to a single issue," the documents read.

Wednesday's meeting will be held at the Maryborough council chambers from 10am.