Ratepayers will foot the bill for dismissal

Any legal costs and damages related to the sacking of a council employee with a controversial husband will be paid by ratepayers, according to Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

Opposition leader Shayne Sutton said at this week’s Brisbane City Council meeting a former employee of Cr Fiona King was considering legal action for unfair dismissal. She asked who would pay the costs.

“It’s been reported that your administration sacked a staff member because her husband had been hired by Bob Katter’s Australia Party,” Cr Sutton said.

“The Fair Work Australia legislation makes it clear that an employer must not take action against a person who is an employee because of the person’s political opinion.

“Who will pay to defend Cr King’s action and if it is found to be unlawful who will pay the cost? Cr King or the ratepayers of Brisbane?”

Cr Quirk defended Cr King and said any costs would be covered by Brisbane City Council.

“A situation has arisen where Cr King felt threatened in relation to the circumstances of the husband of the employee,” he said.

“Before Cr King took any action, she did so after seeking full advice of the offices of this council, seeking legal advice through this council, advice which was proper.

“She has undertaken every single appropriate step before undertaking the action that she has.

“Against that background I would think it appropriate that council did cover any cost associated with this and if any councillor in this place was faced with a similar situation they would have my backing for the same.”

It has been reported that the former employee, Clare Sutton, was sacked after her husband became the campaign director for independent federal MP Mr Katter’s new Australia Party, allegedly after an intimidating phone call made by Ms Sutton’s husband.

Ms Sutton’s husband is Luke Shaw, a former young National who attracted considerable media and public attention when he served as jury foreman at former National Party premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s 1991 perjury trial, which resulted in a hung jury.

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