Molly hearing should stay public
A QUEENSLAND Civil and Administrative Tribunal member who banned people from sitting in a public hearing in Hervey Bay courthouse had no authority to close the court.
Several people were evicted from the public gallery of the court on Wednesday when a hearing was held into the fate of Molly the dog.
The only people allowed to remain in the court were a current and former Fraser Coast Regional Council employee.
Presiding tribunal member Susan Bothmann gave no reason for closing the court.
The Fraser Coast Regional Council impounded Molly after some sheep were attacked at the Glendyne school early this year.
Molly has been on death row for eight months but her owner Frances Gala says Molly was not involved in the attack and should not be destroyed.
QCAT hearings are open to the public but a presiding member can make a non-publication order in exceptional cases.
The Department of Justice and Attorney-General deals with QCAT enquiries but does not have control over proceedings.
A department spokesman said the presiding member did not have any authority to close the proceedings to the public.
“The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has advised that the hearing should not have been closed and has apologised for the misunderstanding,” he said.
“In view of the misunderstanding we will be reviewing our training and induction process for Members to ensure this does not happen again.”
QCAT will provide a transcript of the proceedings to the Fraser Coast Chronicle next week.
Ms Bothmann has not yet made a decision on Molly's fate: her decision will be provided in writing to the legal representatives of Ms Gala and the council.