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:
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.
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:
Acting Committee Secretary
Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee
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