Ex-Council CEO grilled over $300k ‘golden handshake’
A former Logan City Council CEO, whose sacking sparked a corruption inquiry, has again defended blowing the whistle on councillors soon after she received a work performance report she was not expecting.
Sharon Kelsey, who was later reinstated as council CEO, appeared for a second day at a committal hearing into fraud charges against former Mayor Luke Smith and seven councillors.
Smith, Russell Lutton, Steve Swenson, Cherie Dalley, Laurie Smith, Phil Pidgeon, Trevina Schwarz and Jennie Breene allegedly acted fraudulently by firing Ms Kelsey in early 2018.
It is alleged they caused detriment to Ms Kelsey, after she made a public interest disclosure of her suspicions of possible misconduct by Luke Smith to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard Ms Kelsey made the public interest disclosure after receiving a report on her probation period that was critical of her performance in some areas.
Cherie Dalley's barrister Chris Wilson asked if the disclosure was a "pre-emptive strike".
"No definitely not," Ms Kelsey said.
"Just a coincidence then, is that your evidence?" Mr Wilson asked.
"I had formulated my view and I then was compelled as CEO of the council to make that disclosure."
Ms Kelsey was also quizzed over her time at the independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission which oversees Victoria Police.
The court heard she resigned after 17 months with a payout of $300,000.
Barrister Andrew Hoare, representing Laurie Smith, asked if she was given a "golden handshake' because her style was " incompatible with the organisation".
Ms Kelsey disagreed.
At the time the corporate services director had a bullying complaint made against her.
Ms Kelsey told the court she met with the IBAC CEO to discuss a possible restructure of the organisation and the bullying complaint which had been withdrawn.
"I said to him … If it's easier in relation to what you want to do with the organisation in relation to managing IBAC I'm prepared to leave the organisation," she said.
Under-cross examination by barrister Saul Holt, QC, Ms Kelsey said IBAC didn't want her to leave.
"Do you seriously contend to this court, on oath, an organisation that did not want you to leave, paid you $300,000 to leave," Mr Holt said.
"And if the answer is yes, have you ever heard anything so ridiculous."
Ms Kelsey replied yes, that IBAC had paid her about $300,000 despite not wanting her to leave.
Magistrate Steve Courtney interjected, stating the comment might be a matter for submissions.
Ms Kelsey's evidence has wrapped up but the hearing continues.
Originally published as Ex-Council CEO grilled over $300k 'golden handshake'