STIRLING councillor Elizabeth Re says a bullying accusation has stained her name.
“I now find myself unemployable, I have amassed legal fees just of over $100,000, that I really can’t pay,” she said.
“I am shamed by strangers who recognise my name or face at public events and even just shopping, with behind-the-hand comments and whispers.”
Cr Re was publicly censured in September 2016 on order from the Local Government Standards Panel because of a breach of the Local Government Regulations but she was cleared by a State Administrative Tribunal review in June.
In April, the City was issued a WorkSafe improvement notice that said discussions with City employees and a documentation review “revealed employees are exposed to bullying behaviours… from a councillor”.
Council and the City’s lawyer identified Cr Re as subject of the notice and in May, council voted to exclude her from City functions, attending forums and to cancel her electronic security pass for the council building.
But WorkSafe Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the notice was not intended to point to any specific councillor.
“What our inspectors do is to check whether safe systems of work are in place to prevent and manage workplace behaviours such as bullying,” he said. “Notices refer to system-based issues and can be applied to any councillor… not about individual people.”
Cr Re said despite being cleared of charges, it was “impossible to erase the stain” on her name.
“I have sought medical attention for depression and I have a feeling of hopelessness against the relentless machine which has unlimited ratepayer and taxpayer funds to attack me,” she said.
“The aggressive social exclusion included in the sanctions is unjustified and unreasonable and has prevented me from opportunities far in excess of any wrongdoing that I have ever been accused of. I feel that no matter what I say or do, it’s misinterpreted and I continually feel bullied and fearful.”
“I am remorseful that this matter has risen to this level, for the City resource expended and that my conduct that has been misinterpreted as abusive when, in fact, I am just doing my job representing my ratepayers.”
Scarborough resident Simon Wheeler moved a motion at the November 20 meeting to revoke the sanctions imposed on Cr Re but it has not been put to council for a decision.
The City declined to comment.