Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson. Photo: John McCutcheon
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson. Photo: John McCutcheon

Bullying investigation report may not go public: Mayor

Mayor Mark Jamieson says the report from an investigation into allegations of bullying within Sunshine Coast Council may never be released to the public.

Cr Jamieson confirmed investigators had finished their probe into allegations which were raised during former CEO Michael Whittaker's tenure, and it was "now a matter for council to finalise it".

Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie last week used parliamentary privilege to call on the report to be made public, citing concerns over accountability within the council.

Mr Bleijie cited stories published by the Daily documenting the resignation of the former CEO in February this year, due to ill health, a day after the Daily had put a series of questions to the council about the reasoning for Mr Whittaker's extended absence and the status of an investigation into bullying complaints.

Former Sunshine Coast Council CEO Michael Whittaker. Photo: Greg Gardner Photography
Former Sunshine Coast Council CEO Michael Whittaker. Photo: Greg Gardner Photography

Cr Jamieson said the report was regarded as a public interest disclosure, under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, and there was "very little of it that can be released".

"Well the report, as you're aware, has been to the CCC (Crime and Corruption Commission)," Cr Jamieson said.

"I'm not sure that any of it can be released.

"The report includes evidence from a variety of people who did so on the basis, as they understood it through the CCC, that it would be anonymous."

Cr Jamieson said the law did not permit him to break their identity.

Cr Jamieson told the Daily in February that issues had been raised with him about a year earlier, at which time he'd offered to involve an independent investigator, but the people who raised the claims decided not to proceed.

Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie used parliamentary privilege last week to call for the release of the investigation report. Photo: Tara Croser
Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie used parliamentary privilege last week to call for the release of the investigation report. Photo: Tara Croser

The third-term mayor said in February that when the matter was raised again "some months ago" it was passed onto the Crime and Corruption Commission, which sat on it for almost six months, before sending it back to council to deal with, which had sparked the investigation process.

A CCC spokesman told the Daily in February it had been notified "of an allegation against the former CEO in May, 2019" and after assessment had referred it back to council to deal with.

"For operational and legal reasons that cannot be disclosed, and because the complaint related to the council's public official, the assessment and the referral of this matter took longer than the usual assessment time frame," the spokesman said in February.

Pressure piles on council to release report

Cr Jamieson said the relevant legislation had been put in place by the Crime and Corruption Commission, not by the council.

Cr Jamieson said the report was "still being considered by council".

"Still being considered by council so that means it's not finalised. The report, in terms of the investigator, is finalised, it's now a matter for council to finalise it," he said.

The Daily has sent questions to the CCC in relation to its involvement, and has been attempting to contact Mr Whittaker.


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