Qld councillors lose appeal over sacking

Ex-Logan mayor Luke Smith and seven councillors have lost a court appeal over their CEO's sacking.
Ex-Logan mayor Luke Smith and seven councillors have lost a court appeal over their CEO's sacking.

A former Queensland mayor and seven councillors have lost a bid to delay industrial court proceedings over the sacking of their chief executive.

Former Logan City mayor Luke Smith and the seven councillors are also charged with fraud over Sharon Kelsey's dismissal in February 2018.

The Queensland Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal by Smith and councillors Cherie Dalley, Russell Lutton, Stephen Swenson, Laurence Smith, Philip Pidgeon, Trevina Schwarz and Jennifer Breene.

The councillors wanted industrial commission proceedings to be put on hold until after the fraud trials were finalised.

They argued publicity from the commission's findings could influence the jury in the criminal trial.

Dismissing the appeal, Justice Philip Morrison said it could be another two years before the trial was heard.

The bulk of the industrial proceedings are finalised, with only oral submissions to be made before the commission hands down its findings.

Ms Kelsey was sacked four months after giving information to the state corruption watchdog about alleged possible misconduct by Smith.

Two months after the public interest disclosure to the watchdog, she started Industrial Relations Commission proceedings against Smith and the council.

She later added the seven councillors who voted for her sacking to the proceedings.

Days before terminating Ms Kelsey's employment, councillors were told it would be unlawful to do so because she made the disclosure, or because she had started the proceedings.

Justice Morrison says the CCC investigated allegations that Smith directed or influenced the seven councillors to vote for Ms Kelsey's sacking as retaliation.

Logan City Council was dissolved in May 2019 and an administrator appointed following the arrest of Smith and the councillors.

Smith and the seven councillors were ordered to pay Ms Kelsey's appeal costs.

Australian Associated Press