Tribunal boss kicks gallery out
A PRESIDING member of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal evicted the public from a hearing into the fate of Molly the dog – without giving any reason.
Great dane cross Molly, owned by Frances Gala, has been on death row since being impounded by the Fraser Coast Regional Council early this year.
Molly was accused of mauling several sheep on the Glendyne school property, but Ms Gala says there is no evidence to suggest Molly was involved in the attack.
A QCAT hearing was held at the Hervey Bay courthouse on Wednesday.
The QCAT website states: “All QCAT hearings are open to the public and information about proceedings can be published.”
But presiding member Susan Bothmann told everyone to leave the public gallery, with the exception of two people: one current and one former Fraser Coast Regional Council employee.
Non-publication orders can be made in exceptional circumstances, but nowhere on the QCAT website does it state that a presiding member can close the proceedings to the public.
The closed hearing went for several hours and heard from six witnesses including council staff, Glendyne representatives and Ms Gala.
The council was represented in court by solicitor Joel Blane and Ms Gala was represented by barrister Sarah Laikind.
Ms Gala maintained that Molly was in the vicinity of the sheep attack at the time, but did not take part in the attack.
A photograph of Molly, taken after the attack, was tendered to the tribunal and showed there was no blood on her face.
None of the witnesses could say they had actually seen Molly attack any of the animals.
Molly has been in custody at the council pound for nearly eight months and Ms Gala may have to pay the council impounding fees, regardless of the outcome of the case.
Ms Bothmann did not make her decision on Wednesday, but said she was aware of the “urgency of the matter” and would notify both side's legal representatives of her decision in writing.