Submissions about councillor complaints laws

councillor complaints laws

Will the Government’s proposed councillor complaints laws deal effectively with the ‘bad apples’ in local government? *

What do you do if you think a mayor or local councillor has acted corruptly, inappropriately or not complied with required rules such as declaring conflicts of interest?

Queensland Parliament is considering laws which would change the process of handling complaints about councillors and mayors.

You can have your say by making a submission to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, by 2:00 pm on Thursday 26 October.

Current process for handling complaints about councillors

Queensland has a formal process for dealing with complaints about councillors.

It results in lots of complaints but very few councillors are found to have done anything wrong.

The current councillor complaints process has problems:

  • Complaints can take a very long time to be dealt with
  • Mayors can engage in political point scoring; acting vindictively against opponents and going easy on factional supporters
  • The process is not in any way transparent so its outcomes don’t inspire public confidence
  • If a complaint is substantiated, which does not often happen, the penalties and sanctions are often nothing more than a light slap on the wrist
  • The process can be misused during election campaigns when there is a significant increase in the number of complaints lodged

An independent panel reviewed the councillor complaints process some time ago and recommended changes including having an Independent Assessor to review all complaints instead of them first going to the Council CEO.

Here is a link to the independent panel’s report:

COUNCILLOR COMPLAINTS REVIEW A fair, effective and efficient framework

Proposed legislation

Local Government Minister Mark Furner introduced legislation to Parliament on 12 October.

The legislation being considered by Parliament is the Local Government (Councillor Complaints) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017

The proposed new laws are now being reviewed in an inquiry by Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee which has invited submissions from the public by 26 October.

Proposed reforms

The Explanatory Notes say that the policy objectives of the proposed new laws are to provide for a simpler, more streamlined system for making, investigating and determining complaints about councillor conduct in Queensland.

Things to think about

What types of bad behaviour by local councillors should be dealt with by the councillor complaints process?

Should details be published of any complaint investigation process so the community can find out:

  • What decision is made
  • Who made the decision
  • The evidence considered
  • Reasons for the decision

Should councillors be required to provide sworn testimony in response to complaints, which would mean that any untruthfulness would expose them to a charge of perjury?

Should Mayors still be dealing with complaints of inappropriate conduct by divisional councillors?

Should divisional councillors deal, collectively,  with complaints about mayors?

Redland City Council

Redlands2030 has previously published the following posts dealing with councillor complaints:

Councillor complaints under State spotlight – April 2016

Councillor Gleeson’s inappropriate conduct – April 2017

Why did Karen Williams get a $5000 gift? – October 2017

Making a submission about councillor complaints laws

The closing date for written submissions is Thursday, 26 October 2017 at 2:00pm.

Guidelines for making a submission to a parliamentary committee are available here: Guide to making a submission.

The guidelines explain that the Committee may at its discretion publish submissions on the parliamentary website.

Publication or disclosure of a submission that has not been authorised by a committee might not be protected by Parliamentary privilege.

Submissions should be sent to:

Email: mailto:lacsc@parliament.qld.gov.au

Acting Committee Secretary
Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee
Parliament House
George Street
Brisbane Qld 4000

Submissions should include:

  • the author’s name and signature
  • if the submission is made on behalf of an organisation, the level of approval (e.g. a local branch, executive committee or national organisation)
  • mailing address (and email if available), and
  • daytime telephone number

Redlands2030 – 18 October 2017

* Photo: David Adam Kess

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

2 thoughts on “Submissions about councillor complaints laws

  1. Complaints fall on deaf ears. My neighbour says that councillors forget that they are public servants whose generous salaries and perks are paid for by tax/ratepayers…so rightfully, they should lend an ear to what constituents have to say in various divisions and do their best to resolve issues important to them. But I found out years ago, it was no use, since to silence me, while attempting to speak up to save officially listed koala habitat adjacent to TAFE Alex Hills, councillor officiating the meeting that particular day, our ‘white haired boy at the time’…said: “done deal, Amy”.
    Has anything changed?

  2. It’s about time there was an overhaul of the complaints process. The CCC is very slow to act and really should be replaced by a more efficient system. Redland City Council is heavily involved in buck passing and I am speaking from experience in 2017. The Legal Section of Council had given me written advice on the cutting down of gum trees in a known koala area, which was proven by the Arboriculture Section of the same Council to be wrong. Other sections of Council had ignored their own guidelines with respect to diversion of storm water and in 10 weeks nobody replied to the complaint though the Mayor’s Office said it would be dealt with by the then CEO as it related to an operational matter. Finally after 3 months it was handled by the Queensland Council Ombudsman and promptly rectified. The proposal by the Walker Corporation in relation to Toondah Harbour has been surrounded in secrecy within RCC and councillors have been warned not to speak about the 3,600 proposed unit development to any media outlets yet two weeks ago Cr Peter Mitchell gave a short interview to the Channel 7 Network and it was reported on the nightly News. So why wasn’t Peter reprimanded? Perhaps it was because he came out in support of this commercial venture, which if allowed to proceed would impact on both marine life, shore-birds and koalas. Lang Walker admits he has been very generous with donations to councils and politicians. Currently this is not illegal but it does not pass the pub test.

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