Wednesday 17 April 2019
Complaints from members of the public make up half of the almost 600 complaints about councillor conduct received by the Office of the Independent Assessor with the Crime and Corruption Commission referring 26% and council officials referring 20% of complaints to be assessed.
The complaint statistics are in the first OIA Insight report which also reveals there are more than 200 investigations into councillor complaints.
“Insight also gives an indication of the seriousness of the complaints with the OIA assessing 23% as potential corrupt conduct and referring them to the CCC, 44% assessed as misconduct and 25% as inappropriate conduct,” Ms Florian said.
“ It identifies that we are managing a large volume of complaints in relation to our most populous council areas, but we have received complaints regarding 41 out of 77 Queensland councils.”
Councillors failing to declare a conflict of interest is the main issue accounting for 24% of the total complaints, a breach of trust 16% with a breach of the Code of Conduct, 13%. Other issues include social media, registers of interest and the release or misuse of information. There has been one complaint of a reprisal and one assessed as vexatious or frivolous.
“ I acknowledge that as a new statutory body, we will attract many complaints, but I can assure the community and councillors that we are taking all complaints seriously and assessing each one carefully on the information available before taking any action.”
The first edition of Insight reveals 584 complaints have been received, 201 are under investigation, 243 were dismissed/no further action and 94 referred to other agencies.
A further 26 matters are with the legal team or awaiting a hearing in the Councillor Conduct Tribunal.
“ We identified very early that conflict of interest and social media were issues and acted to publish educational guidelines and council meeting aids to assist councillors,” Ms Florian said.
“ I am also travelling with the Integrity Commissioner to visit proactive councils which have requested our assistance to work through conflict of interest scenarios.”
In the first four months the Office of the Independent Assessor focused on assessing, dismissing and progressing complaints through its specialist investigation and legal teams.
The teams are highly skilled and experienced investigators and lawyers, who have also been selected because they are reasonable, balanced and approachable.
The first edition of OIA Insight delivers on the Independent Assessor’s commitment to transparent and accountable complaints management.