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Public transport officer disciplined for preventing children getting off a bus

A Translink official given the power to tackle public transport fare evasion has lost an appeal opposing disciplinary action taken against her for misusing her authority to prevent three children getting off a bus.

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) last week confirmed a decision by Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) to sanction a Translink Senior Network Officer (SNO) by reducing her pay for a period of 12-months.

QIRC member Ian Power, in a decision delivered last Wednesday 4 August, confirmed the decision about disciplinary action taken against the officer, who QLS Proctor has chosen to identify as SLR, under Section 194 of the Public Service Act 2008 (Qld) (PSA).

The commission was told the action was triggered when a complaint was levelled against SLR for a misuse of her authority to prevent three children – whose ages have not been made public – getting off a bus on 31 October 2019.

A further complaint was made that on the same day SLR also tried “blocking a male passenger from moving towards the front of” a bus.

“There is no dispute that (SLR) was involved in passenger incidents which occurred while (she) and another SNO were performing duties on a bus on 31 October 2019,” Mr Power said.

“On 28 November 2019, (DTMR) placed (SLR) on alternative duties whilst Ethical Standards Unit investigated the matter.”

The commission was told the incidents were captured on body-worn cameras assigned to the SNOs and that, after investigations by the ESU, there was assertion by one DTMR official the matters may have been of a criminal nature.

However, SLR submitted that despite the “original complaint” of possible alleged criminal conduct being levelled at her there was no referral of the matter for prosecution by the Queensland Police Service.

SLR was then the subject of disciplinary proceedings headed by DTMR’s Passenger Transit Services General Manager, Graham Davis.

Mr Power said: “Mr Davis determined that, with respect to one allegation, (SLR) misused her authority by deliberately obstructing three juvenile passengers from exiting a public transport vehicle.

“Mr Davis found (SLR) did not have the authority or power to obstruct the juvenile passengers from exiting the bus after one of the passengers clearly stated they wanted to get off the bus and two had attempted to depart the bus.

“The actions in obstructing the juvenile passengers from exiting the bus were found to be a misuse of (SLR’s) authority as a SNO and were significantly excessive.”

In dismissing SLR’s appeal against the findings, Mr Power said: “Based on the information before me, I am satisfied that disciplinary decision was fair and reasonable in the circumstances.”

Read the decision.

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