Councillor conduct complaints jump 460 per cent in one year


Last year the state’s local government department, which originally handled councillor conduct complaints received only 162 complaints.

The Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian said more than 60 per cent of the issues her department handled were complaints from the public.

“… We are now dealing with councillor conduct complaints in relation to 51 out of 77 Queensland councils,” Ms Florian said.

The 466 per cent increase totalled 1200 separate issues or allegations, with conflicts of interest one of the biggest issues raised.

“As at 30 June 2019 we have 152 ongoing misconduct investigations and a total of 54 matters have been referred or, have been assigned to the OIA lawyers to prepare matters for possible referral, to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal,” she said.

“Notwithstanding this, the OIA has been able to assess 80 per cent of the complaints that we have received within 21 working days.”

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In total, 477 complaints made had no further action taken after assessment or investigation, she said.

The intense workload for the new office meant prioritising matters for active investigations was a challenge for the office and delays in referring matters to the new Councillor Conduct Tribunal was also being experienced.

“We are sending smaller matters on the fast track to the Tribunal but there are now several contested matters before the Tribunal,” Ms Florian said.

The Councillor Conduct Tribunal has determined 13 matters involving eight councillors.

Ten allegations against five councillors were sustained and three allegations were not sustained against three councillors.

Seventy-nine Office of the Independent Assessor investigations were on hold or pending outcomes in other jurisdictions.

In the last quarter, 34 complaints were received about Gold Coast City Council, eight about Moreton Bay Regional Council, and eight about Logan City Council.

Brisbane City Council is not currently in the OIA’s jurisdiction, as it has its own councillor conduct management system.

However, legislation before Parliament aims to bring Brisbane councillors under the oversight of the OIA.

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