Queensland Government

3 December 2019

A record number of complaints about the conduct of Queensland Councillors have been received by the Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA) since it opened its doors a year ago today.

The Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian said 1,341 complaints had been lodged since 3 December 2018, exceeding expectations.

“It was estimated the OIA would receive 160 complaints in our first year instead we received 1,341 complaints, containing 1,646 separate allegations, which is about 740 percent higher than expected,” said Ms Florian.

“From the outset, the OIA’s focus has been firmly on strengthening trust in what is a critical level of government. 

“Twelve months on we are not only transparently holding Councillors to account but just as importantly, we are proactively working with the sector to help Councillors to better understand the standards they have to abide by.” 

Ms Florian said she believed the increase was driven by the recent focus on Councillors’ conduct given the number of high-profile legal cases making headlines.

“I also think more people, including those in local government, felt they could come forward now that there is a dedicated agency to handle complaints about Councillors,” Ms Florian said.

While 60 percent of complaints were ultimately dismissed, 557 complaints required an investigation and 47 percent of these have already been finalised.

80 matters involving 106 separate allegations against 42 Mayors and Councillors are currently either before the Councillor Conduct Tribunal, being considered for referral or have already been decided by the Tribunal.  

“These are disciplinary matters where the Tribunal is providing councillors with important clarity on what is required of them and the OIA is, case by case, consistently and transparently, reinforcing those standards,” Ms Florian said.

“This disciplinary focus is crucial not only to contributing to a state-wide culture of awareness and proper conduct, but in identifying and addressing where Councillors or Councils need further training or support.   

“The best defence against complaints is good conduct and the OIA works hard to provide guidance and tools for Councillors to help them better understand their legal obligations in what is a high-volume, high-value and sometimes high-pressure decision-making environment.

ENDS

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