An RTI request for the release of Gympie Regional Council's staff surveys has been denied on confidentiality grounds.
An RTI request for the release of Gympie Regional Council's staff surveys has been denied on confidentiality grounds. Greg Miller

Gympie council opts to keep results of staff surveys secret

GYMPIE Regional Council has rejected a request to release its internal staff surveys for the past decade, saying they could prejudice its ability to undertake them in the future.

The Gympie Times had asked the council to release the surveys from 2011 to now through a Right to Information request.

Access was refused yesterday when chief executive Bernard Smith said the survey contracts were entered on the basis the results would be used only internally.

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Releasing the surveys would be a possible breach of confidence and therefore they were exempt under the Act, he said.

Confidentiality was another issue.

Bernard Smith returns from the Ironman World Championship, Kona, Hawii.Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
CEO Bernard Smith. Patrick Woods

"Public disclosure ... could prejudice council's ability to manage staff, assess its staff and conduct industrial relations,” he said.

"For the reasons outlined ... council is not in a position to release any of the documents requested in your application.”

In January, a motion by Cr Glen Hartwig for the latest survey to "be released to councillors for their perusal on a confidential basis” was defeated by a slim margin.

Mayor Mick Curran, Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch, Cr Mal Gear and Cr Mark McDonald voted against the survey being released. Cr Daryl Dodt's absence meant Cr Curran had the deciding vote.

Gympie Town Hall
Gympie Town Hall Leeroy Todd

But council has itself released some details from a past staff survey on the grounds of "cohesive, responsible and transparent” governance.

A report on the 2013 survey was tabled in open committee in November 2015, when it was noted the results, including a drop in unfavourable responses across almost all categories, were "very pleasing”.

Other Queensland councils have made theirs publicly available in the past two years.

Brisbane City Council's, released last year, revealed only half of its workers were inspired to do their best work every day. At Toowoomba, where the survey was released in July, 44 per cent of staff said they would not recommend their council as an employer.

The Gympie Times has asked the Office of the Information Commissioner for a review of council's decision.