Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said council staff take file notes when they are concerned about a situation.
Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said council staff take file notes when they are concerned about a situation. Marian Faa

Mayor defends CEO notes: 'There's two sides to every story'

SOUTHERN Downs mayor Tracy Dobie has defended Southern Downs Regional Council CEO David Keenan after he was discovered taking "bizarre" notes about residents in a shopping centre.

Two women, who wish to protect their identity, have spoken about the "distress" and "anxiety" they have endured after finding "meticulous" council file notes about their movements in Rose City Shoppingworld.

"I feel sick if I have to go into public," one woman said.

The other woman said the notes were "bizarre" and "creepy" and contained allegations of the women "staring" and "glaring" at the CEO and other council staff.

But Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said taking file notes should be standard practice in any organisation.

"There is a file note where a councillor or officer feels concerned about a situation," the mayor said.

"This is essential so there is an accurate record for the protection for the council worker and the council officer. This is not different to any organisation."

 

Mr Keenan's notes describe encounters with women in Rose City Shoppingworld during business hours.
Mr Keenan's notes describe encounters with women in Rose City Shoppingworld during business hours. Jonno Colfs

Mr Keenan said he had not felt personally threatened by either of the women, who obtained notes about them through an information privacy request.

But he said was aware of comments online where members of the community appeared intent on identifying where he lived.

"For what purposes or reasons I do not know," the CEO said.

"I have been made aware of a large amount of critical commentary about me on social media made by specific members of the community.

"This criticism targeted at me, the mayor and the organisation is substantial and not based upon a clear understanding of local government."

 

Southern Downs Regional Council CEO David Keenan said he did not feel threatened by either of the women, despite taking notes about stares and glances.
Southern Downs Regional Council CEO David Keenan said he did not feel threatened by either of the women, despite taking notes about stares and glances. Marian Faa

Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie said residents who had concerns about file notes should make an official complaint to the council.

But the women, whose complaints in the past have been labelled 'vexatious' or 'unsubstantiated', said the complaints process was flawed.

"If we make complaints and they just label them unsubstantiated or vexatious and nothing happens," one woman said.

New Queensland local government legislation, passed in May, removes the role of the CEO in making preliminary assessment of complaints.

However the legislation also "strengthens offences" to discourage frivolous and improper complaints.

"If we make complaints and they decide it's vexatious that could be an offence," one woman said.

The mayor said council spend hundreds of thousands in ratepayer money dealing with vexatious complaints.



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