Documents show Gold Coast council ‘spiritual adviser’ Sue Baynes’s work charter and hourly rate

In February, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate’s new spiritual adviser Sue Baynes wrote an email enclosing the charter for her role.

It said she had met with the Mayor two weeks earlier and the file attached to her email contained priorities for outreach to the Christian community, including to “bring encouragement as the vision of city awakening is shared”.

Documents obtained by the ABC through Right to Information (RTI) show Ms Baynes’s initial contract had her employed as a council adviser on a casual “as-needs basis” from February to June 30, 2022.

The contract showed she would work up to 36.25 hours per week and be paid $38.71 per hour in her ratepayer-funded role.

While her initial contract ended in June, according to the documents, council sources said she continued to work for the City of Gold Coast on a casual basis of about 15 to 20 hours per week.

Two women stand in orange family first shirts holding how to vote cards.
Sue Baynes (right) on the Gold Coast, when she ran for the Family First Party as a Senate candidate in 2016. (Supplied: Facebook)

While Mr Tate has maintained Ms Baynes is a “council adviser” and her contract of employment defines her as this, a letter of introduction to local pastors written by Ms Baynes suggests a different emphasis:

“In February this year, Mayor Tom Tate invited me to join the Office of the Mayor as a pastoral adviser.

“This is a new role and unique to the Gold Coast. It is, therefore, my privilege to reach out to you and offer an opportunity to connect on behalf of Mayor Tom.”

Ms Baynes has publicly advocated for the Seven Mountains Mandate, a dominionist Christian movement from the United States that aims to assert influence over seven public spheres — family, education, government, media, arts or entertainment, church and business.

A headshot of a blonde woman looking to the right
Ms Baynes is employed on an “as-needs basis”.(Supplied: LinkedIn)

Gold Coast City Council is the only council in Queensland to have a spiritual adviser role. For this reason, Ms Baynes’s tenure has not been without controversy.

Furore surrounded the conversion of a disused council office space into a prayer room that a group of Satanists was later denied access to.

The room is no longer available for public bookings.

By April, Ms Baynes’s pastoral updates to the Mayor’s office included mention of the public debate over her appointment, according to the documents obtained by the ABC.

In the notes under the title Support from the Church and Community, Ms Baynes made reference to the press storm that ensued around her new job.

“Following the recent media articles regarding the prayer room and my appointment, I have been encouraged with many messages of support,” she wrote.

“I have been particularly grateful for the care and support I have overwhelmingly received from my fellow Office of the Mayor colleagues.”

A man in a black cloak, holding a fake skull and giving the peace sign
Members of the Noosa Temple of Satan were denied access to the prayer room.(Supplied: Noosa Temple of Satan)

Ms Baynes’s pastoral updates also show that during her tenure as council adviser, she has held “pastors’ coffee catch-ups” with representatives from local churches, set up a pastors’ database and engaged in planning for pastors’ roundtable meetings and a prayer retreat.

She also attended a drug and alcohol rehabilitation forum with representatives from other churches, according to a document dated in April headed “Sue Baynes — Pastoral Adviser Update 010422”.

The purpose of the meeting was to identify Christian drug and alcohol ministries, gaps in current service delivery, and form a draft proposal to present to the Mayor for state government funding, according to the document obtained under RTI.

Ms Baynes discussed meetings and a Runaway Bay church’s plan to provide child care for the children of sex workers.

In another document, she noted local pastors had asked questions about “Manor” – a property in the Gold Coast hinterland.

“State-owned and abandoned property in Springbrook, a 38-bed facility. Can it be repurposed? Model of low-level offenders’ rehabilitation proved successful in LA,” she wrote.

Chapel plan discussed

Documents obtained under RTI also show Ms Baynes said she met with former Gold Coast mayor Lex Bell to discuss St Margaret’s chapel, which was being moved to behind entertainment venue Home of the Arts as part of the “redevelopment plan”.

“The suggestion of making it available to local churches for regular prayer meetings was warmly welcomed by Lex, the sense that the chapel will receive another life and be useful again to the city,” she wrote.

When asked about Ms Baynes’s ongoing contract with the council, Mr Tate declined to comment about her employment status.

“I don’t publicly comment on staff matters,” he said in a statement.

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