Council bully banned from meeting with staff

Logan City Cr Sean Black
Logan City Cr Sean Black.

By Staff Writer

An elected member of Logan City Council in Queensland has been banned from face-to-face contact with council staff following complaints of bullying, harassment and displays of ‘uncontrollable anger’.

The issue has reignited the debate over the best approach to managing and preventing workplace bullying within local government.

Councillor Sean Black has been prohibited from meeting with council staff, as recommended in an external complaints officer’s report.

Logan City mayor Pam Parker said Cr Black would continue his representative role, but would have restrictions placed on him within council buildings, including security supervision at council meetings.

“Councillor Black has a sad history of unacceptable behaviour which has attracted both internal and external complaints,” Cr Parker said.

“He has admitted his unacceptable behaviour especially with regard to displays of anger.

“We regret having had to take this action, but, like all responsible businesses and community organisations, we have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying in the workplace.”

Cr Parker confirmed that a worker’s compensation claim lodged against Cr Black had been successful.

She said the bans would remain in place until Council’s chief executive officer received “an appropriate medical clearance” for Cr Black.

“We wish Councillor Black well in his efforts to remediate his behaviour and look forward to being able to restore usual councillor arrangements for him,” she said.

Cr Black admitted that he had sworn and yelled at council staff, but denied it was bullying.

“When you need something done in the private sector you ask for it and it occurs,” Cr Black told ABC Radio, adding that he had never had a claim of bullying or harassment filed against him while working in the private sector as a real estate agent.

Cr Black accused councillors of playing politics with the issue.

“I’ve passionately advocated for my community and that’s led to getting some noses out of joint, not least of all the mayor’s.

“Obviously this political decision by Council has come about to try and silence someone who’s working really hard for their community.”

He has called on the State Government to overhaul the complaints handling process.

Local Government Minister Desley Boyle has indicated that the new Local Government Act will remove the power of councillors to consider complaints against other elected representatives.

Related Story: Parliament setting a bad example for bullies

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