By Chris Thomson | posted on September 14, 2018
ROB WHOOLEY, a Denmark Shire councillor elected after being sacked as the municipality’s chief engineer, had his day in the Supreme Court of Western Australia this week to appeal his earlier loss of a long-running unfair dismissal case against the Shire.
Shortly after appearing before Supreme Court President Michael Buss, and Justices Graeme Murphy and Rene Le Miere for two hours on Tuesday, Cr Whooley said he was pleased the Industrial Appeal Court in Perth agreed to hear his case.
“The question was whether they would even allow the appeal to be heard,” the self-represented appellant said.
“Most of [the Shire’s] lawyers said I had no chance of winning.
“The good thing is the [court] obviously contemplated there is a basis [for action].”
Cr Whooley said that whether he wins the case will be “another thing”.
“But they could have just chucked it out and said: ‘Nah, we’re not even gonna hear it, mate’,” he added.
In December, The Weekender revealed that in 2015 the Shire had offered Cr Whooley money to discontinue his claim originally filed in the Fair Work Commission (‘Denmark offered Whooley money’, 21 December, 2017).
Now the case is before the Industrial Appeal Court, an arm of the Supreme Court, Cr Whooley is no longer in a no-costs jurisdiction.
It is understood that if he loses his appeal the Shire would be entitled to seek legal costs in excess of $80,000.
Cr Whooley said the Shire had hired a Sydney-based barrister who brought two other lawyers across the continent with him.
“It must have cost a small fortune, but anyway, [after the hearing] I shook hands with them and said: ‘Thanks, Jamie, I’ll see you in the High Court, and he kind of giggled and after that, I said: ‘I’ll see you in the Privy Council’.”
On a more serious note, Cr Whooley said the case had been very stressful for his family.
“It’s been going since 2015,” he lamented.
Contacted for comment on Tuesday afternoon, Shire CEO Bill Parker said he did not attend the hearing, but was expecting a call from the Shire’s solicitor.
The court has reserved its ruling for a later date.