OA charges dropped

Cr Amanda Hay
Cr Amanda Hay

EIGHTEEN months of hell has come to an end for Cr Amanda Hay, but the result is not what she would have preferred.

The Scenic Rim Regional Council’s Division One Councillor has spent over a year defending a vexatious complaint charge by the Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA).

In October 2022 prior to Cr Hay being elected, she sent an email to Councillors and the Council’s Acting CEO, stating she took exception to the words “causing harm to third parties” in two motions put forward by the Division Four Councillor at the time, Michael Enright, in relation to an inappropriate conduct resolution against Division One Councillor at the time, Derek Swanborough.

Cr Enright’s motion read: “That such an admission must include, but not limited to, a statement that is to be read at the next available Ordinary Meeting acknowledging that the Councillor behaved inappropriately, causing harm to third parties.”

At the Council meeting on November 22, Councillors voted to remove the words from the original motion.

At the same meeting then Mayor Greg Christensen gave a public apology for any offence created by the words, ‘causing harm to third parties’, stating that the Department had advised those words were outside the scope.

Two days later Cr Hay, still a civilian at the time, received a decision letter from the OIA advising her complaint about Michael Enright was dismissed, and that she was under investigation. 

This has led to three court appearances in the Brisbane Magistrates Court over the past 18 months, the last of which was when the charge was withdrawn, but without any reason provided.

“There is no reason given to withdraw a case, just we present no evidence.  No explanation.  Nothing,” she says.

“They should never have started it given the Mayor had apologised to me two days before they wrote to me and said ‘you’re under investigation’”.

“The OIA have never had a successful prosecution for vexatious complainants and they’ve been going since December 2018.”

“My personal opinion is they felt the need to have a scalp, to have something in their annual report that says ‘we’ve had a successful prosecution’.”

The OIA also failed to provide Cr Hay with vital  information in the early stages of the investigation.

“They failed  to include the sheet that tells you, that you have internal review rights. I found out about that by accident in  May 2023 when I was trawling through the OIA website to see how it all worked and I came across this thing that said you have internal review rights.”

Cr Hay was elected to Council in April 2023 following Cr Swanborough’s resignation.

She said as an ordinary citizen she was held to a higher level of accountability than she would have been as a councillor.

“That’s why I was quite upset about it all.  They were just dogged.”

“I’m a really strong person but I’ve spent days in tears over this.”

“What would this do to someone else?”

Cr Hay intends to submit a right to information request to find out what the cost of the investigation has been to taxpayers.

About Keer Moriarty 22 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.