Former Council manager Steven Chadwick.
Former Council manager Steven Chadwick. Sharyn O'Neill

RRC may face unfair dismissal claim

A FORMER Rockhampton Regional Council manager sacked for a speeding offence has cleared his name two years after he was issued with an infringement notice.

And now Steven Chadwick, who worked for five months at the council as operations manager – engineering, wants answers from the authority for what he believes was an unfair dismissal that cost him his 12-year career in local government.

Yesterday Magistrate Annette Hennessy in Rockhampton Magistrates Court handed down a decision that dismissed a charge of speeding against Mr Chadwick and said there was credible evidence he was not the driver of the car.

On April 4, 2009, his council car was clocked at 136kmh on the Bruce Highway at Yaamba Road.

At the time Mr Chadwick was driving his son to Airlie Beach where he was about to begin a new job.

Later that month he was forwarded an infringement notice and completed a statutory declaration that he was not the driver of the car but rather it was his son-in-law who had borrowed the car.

The council would be fined $2233 as an organisation if no one took responsibility but the fine for an individual worker was $130, Mr Chadwick said.

When the son-in-law, who was a disqualified driver at the time, was forwarded a statutory declaration he said he was not the driver either.

After the police went back to the council, it referred the notice to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

The following month he was dismissed after the council alleged he had lied in his statutory declaration and therefore breached the Local Government Act.

Mr Chadwick said he was pulled into a meeting with the human resources manager, Lyle Harman, who told him his declaration was “fictitious”.

Mr Chadwick said he could provide proof, in the form of petrol receipts from his trip to Airlie Beach, but 10 minutes later was told that if he did not resign he would be sacked.

He was also told by Mr Harman, after he provided an explanation for where he was when the car was clocked speeding, that he was not allowed to lend the vehicle to anyone else but Mr Chadwick said his contract stipulated he was able to use it for “full private use”.

Mr Chadwick said he would be seeking legal advice on whether to take the council to court for unfair dismissal.

He said he was $60,000 a year worse off and had only been able to find temporary employment since his dismissal.

He applied for jobs at three local councils but was told he should not include RRC on his CV.

Rockhampton Regional Council yesterday declined to comment.

“Council does not comment on staffing matters,” a spokeswoman said.

Mr Harman also declined to comment yesterday.

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