3 August 2020
More than 1000 complaints about Queensland councillors have been lodged with the Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA) in the 2019-20 financial year.
The Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian said the complaints related to 55 of the state’s 77 local governments.
“The OIA received 1030 complaints about the conduct of councillors in the past financial year and 85 per cent of them came from the public and the local government sector itself,” Ms Florian said.
“This is encouraging because it shows communities are engaged in the processes of local government and councils are actively taking part in efforts to improve integrity in the sector by reporting suspected misconduct or inappropriate conduct.”
Ms Florian cautioned against making any assumptions based on the number of complaints alone.
“While a large number of complaints about a specific council or region can point to a problem, it could equally indicate a strong focus on identifying and reporting councillor conduct, which is an indicator of a robust integrity culture,” she said.
The OIA’s latest newsletter, Insight, provides a snapshot of the number of investigations and disciplinary actions conducted by region or by council, with the first data on Brisbane City Council and the new Ipswich and Logan City Councils for a full quarter.
From the time the OIA was established in 2018 through to 30 June 2020, the Independent Assessor had 101 matters involving 63 councillors and 151 separate allegations either before the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT), being prepared for possible referral to the CCT, or already finalised by the CCT, which determines whether a councillor has engaged in misconduct.
The top five issues which saw councillors referred to the CCT were alleged conflicts of interest, breaches of trust, failures to disclose a material personal interest, the misuse or inappropriate release of council information and failures to disclose or update interests in a councillor’s register of interests.
“This reinforces to all key stakeholders that our proactive efforts and strategies should be focused on strengthening the capacity of councillors, particularly new ones, in these key areas,” Ms Florian said.
For more details about complaints and OIA investigations see the latest edition of Insight.
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