March 23, 2021
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal has found that – on the balance of probabilities – a former South Burnett councillor engaged in misconduct.
In a summary of its findings, published on the Department of Local Government website on March 1, the Tribunal found that then-councillor Terry Fleischfresser engaged in conduct that “either knowingly or recklessly” was inconsistent with “ethical and legal behaviour of councillors and local government employees”.
The Councillor Conduct Tribunal is an independent body responsible for dealing with matters referred to it by the Office of the Independent Assessor.
The Tribunal findings relate to two alleged incidents in the Council Chambers on August 21, 2019, involving a female Council employee dubbed “Ms X” by the Tribunal.
Ms X alleged the incidents occurred after a monthly Council meeting was adjourned for a citizenship ceremony to take place.
Other Councillors, Council staff and members of the public were present in the Council Chambers at the time.
Mr Fleischfresser denied the incidents took place however the Tribunal “was nevertheless satisfied that both incidents occurred”.
“Councils are workplaces, and employees in those workplaces are entitled to attend without fear of unwanted or unwarranted physical contact from others,” the Tribunal noted.
The Tribunal said Mr Fleischfresser had a prior disciplinary history relating to inappropriate conduct, which he contested, but it was “reasonably satisfied that (the previous allegations) are true”.
It issued a reprimand to “publicly demonstrate the Tribunal’s position that such conduct by Councillors is completely inappropriate and serve as public condemnation of such conduct by an elected official”.
The tribunal decided against fining Mr Fleischfresser, noting the publication of its findings “will hold a significance well beyond the making of any orders by this Tribunal”.
Mr Fleischfresser was elected to represent Division 4 at the 2016 Local Government elections but was not re-elected at the 2020 poll.
He previously served on Kingaroy Shire Council from 2000-2008.