QLD Premier: Boys Club Mayor - Protects Councillor of Inappropriate Conduct!

QLD Premier: Boys Club Mayor - Protects Councillor of Inappropriate Conduct!

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South Burnett Residents started this petition to Annastacia Palaszczuk (Premier QLD State Government)

South Burnett Regional Council's Mayor Brett Otto failed to notify a complainant, the outcome of a Council Conduct Tribunal Investigation (CCT) investigation against Councillor Scott Henschen before calling a press conference to announce his decision.

Mayor Otto openly discussed his intentions to journalists before advising the complainant of his intentions. Furthermore, Council's lawyers sent the decision to the complainants lawyers on Friday 16th April however the complainants lawyers were closed due to the Show Holiday. Mayor Otto called a media conference to announce his decision for 9am on Monday 19th April.

In Council’s Ordinary Meeting held Wednesday 24th March 2021, four of the seven Councillors again made declarations of a conflict of interest over the matter.  

Councillors Kathy Duff and Brett Otto reported they had now received a letter from the Local Government Minister approving their participation in deciding the matter.

This still left Council with a lack of a quorum to rule on the complaint. Mark Pitt (CEO) said the only course available was to delegate consideration of the complaint to either the Mayor or a Council Standing Committee. However, the latter option was not suitable as there would not be a quorum at any Standing Committee. This left the delegation to the Mayor as the only pathway forward.

The resolution to delegate the decision-making to the Mayor was put to a vote – with Cr Scott Henschen absent from the room –and was passed 4-1, with Mayor Otto voting against it. (Cr Roz Frohloff was absent from the meeting). Mayor Otto later and after the meeting advised the media he would make the decision by Wednesday 31st March and have Mark Pitt contact the parties. This was reported in the South Burnett Times and Council's own news source South Burnett Online.

Mayor  Otto handed down his findings on Monday the 19th April claiming Councillor Scott Henschen was cleared of inappropriate conduct. The "Boys Club" Mayor delivered the decision with prejudice and claimed the investigation and his decision was above board despite neither the complainant or third party had never been contacted or interviewed.

The Complaint:

1.    Scott Henschen disclosed during a council related business phone call on Tuesday 2nd June 2020, to a Wondai constituent, the complainant’s private and personal affairs along with the contents of a confidential and private email sent from the complainant to Mr Henschen.

2.    Scott Henschen likewise divulged to the constituent the private conversations he & the complainant shared during their time on the election campaign trail.

3.    Scott Henschen further discussed the private details of the domestic violence the complainant suffered which included that she was assaulted when pregnant with her daughter and was held at gunpoint with her daughter in a hostage situation carried out by her ex-husband. the complainant shared these lamentable acts of abuse with Mr Henschen in confidence.

A full list of the behaviour the complainant suffered can be read here.

The Mayor, ignored the complainant's pleas regarding the Councillor's behaviour over a ten month period and despite the evidence, Mayor Brett Otto failed due diligence and chose the path to protect his colleague rather than reprimand the embattled Councillor.

Lawyers representing the complainant are appealing the decision.

The Boys Club Mayor, Brett Otto acted in a bias, disrespectful and unprofessional manner and it is time for him to go.

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