Stirling Hinchliffe holds a press conference in the Ipswich CBD mall with regards to the Ipswich City Council. Councilor Paul Tully.
Stirling Hinchliffe holds a press conference in the Ipswich CBD mall with regards to the Ipswich City Council. Councilor Paul Tully.

Next move for former councillors on commission decision

A GROUP of former Ipswich City Councillors whose case for unfair dismissal was dismissed by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission this week will consider their rights of appeal.

Paul Tully, Wayne Wendt, Cheryl Bromage, David Pahlke, David Morrison, Charlie Pisasale and Sheila Ireland lodged the legal action with the QIRC in October 2018.

The matter was dismissed by the QIRC this week, after debate around whether or not councillors were considered Ipswich City Council employees.

“They took seven months to decide that we weren’t employees, so the case has been dismissed on a technicality,” former councillor Paul Tully said.

“We haven’t really had our day in court to argue that the dismissal under an act of Parliament was unfair.

“Having said that, we are looking at our rights of appeal for the Queensland Industrial Court.”

The commission heard the group of councillors maintained they were both councillors and employees at the time of the dissolution, with the group putting forward evidence including their use of a motor vehicle, mobile phone, fully equipped office and administrative staff to assist them in their duties.

“The Applicants maintain the dismissal was motivated by “bad faith” and was harsh, unjust and unreasonable,” the proceedings document read.

“The Applicants argue the dissolution of the Ipswich City Council and the appointment of an interim administrator forced their termination from their elected office, which in turn required the Council, as their employer, to “formally end the employment role of each of the Applicants.”

In her conclusion, Commissioner Minna Knight wrote an employment relationship between Councillors and the Council did not exist at the time the Ipswich City Council was dissolved.

“There is no evidence before the Commission that the applicants or the Council entered into any form of contract establishing the terms and conditions of any exchange of skill, time or effort in return for payment”

David Martin was one of the councillors dismissed in 2018 but decided against pursuing legal action.

“The day we were sacked, I was determined that I wanted to get back into council and I care more for this community than I do some compensation for what happened,” he said.

“In all honesty, ten people without charges against them got sacked, I find that an extraordinary sense of injustice really.”