Logan City councillors acted illegally when they voted to sack chief executive officer Sharon Kelsey last week, according to their fellow councillor Darren Power.
“I believe she was sacked illegally, that’s my feeling on the matter,” he said.
Cr Power, who voted against the sacking, also confirmed the council received a letter from the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) warning against any move to terminate Ms Kelsey’s position if it was on the basis of her co-operation with the CCC.
The Queensland corruption watchdog has been investigating whether Logan Mayor Luke Smith attempted to unlawfully influence the outcome of council decisions on development applications that would be beneficial to his campaign donors.
Cr Power said he was very surprised other councillors took little notice of the CCC’s letter.
“I thought it would scare the pants off a few councillors,” he said.
“I thought it was very serious, I thought it had a lot of merit and knowing the situation at hand I thought it would change a few councillors minds but it didn’t – it was quickly brushed off.”
Cr Power said he eagerly awaited the outcome of the CCC investigation.
“There’s a lot of dirty rotten secrets being kept in that council and I can’t wait for them to be exposed, it’s only I think a matter of weeks for them to all come out, as you can see they’re slowly coming out,” he said.
Cr Power said there had been “verbal” legal advice on the CCC letter and that one councillor referred the letter to Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam.
He said Mr Hallam “just brushed it off completely”.
“[Mr Hallam] said they’re [the CCC] acting outside the ordinary, that they’re really just overstating their importance.”
On Tuesday, Mr Hallam told the ABC the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission advised the LGAQ it was lawful for the Logan City Council to make a decision on the CEO’s probation.
“The chairman of the CCC had sent me a copy of the CCC letter to the council referred to in media reports,” Mr Hallam said.
“Legal advice to me and the council was that the council could make a decision regarding the CEO’s probation without fear of action by the CCC.”
Cr Smith was not present at last week’s council meeting, which voted 7-5 to sack Ms Kelsey at the end of her six-month probationary period.
On Tuesday, Cr Smith said he did not receive the letter from CCC chairman Alan MacSporran but was aware other councillors did receive it.
He would not comment on any subsequent legal advice, citing legal privilege.
But he said the decision to sack Ms Kelsey had nothing to do with any matters involving her cooperation with the CCC.
“The decision that was made by council was made on her performance and her performance alone,” he said.
The matter had also attracted the interest of Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.
“I take great interest in any matters that cause disquiet and concern about the operation of councils anywhere in the state,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“These are matters I’m taking great interest in. I have requested advice from my department and in order to ensure that advice is fulsome I know that my department has taken action to correspond with LCC seeking further information.”
Mr Hinchliffe said it was not unusual to see differences of opinion within democratically elected groups of people but would not rule out the possibility of replacing the council with administrators.
“I would be very surprised if that was the first thing that was looked at and considered in the circumstances, however I’m not in the position to be ruling anything out,” he said.
“I just need to be making sure I get the proper advice based up on the situation that’s occurring.”