May 24, 2018

New legislation paves way for suspensions

New legislation paves way for suspensions

Four Queensland mayors and a councillor have been suspended after new laws passed in parliament last week were signed off by Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the mayors and councillor were suspended on full pay and could not appeal the suspensions.

“Under section 165 of the Local Government Act, the Deputy Mayors in the affected councils will assume the roles and responsibilities of acting Mayor. A suspended councillor is not replaced,” he said.

“This action does not reflect on the outcome of the charges which will be dealt with by the courts.

“I have also written to all councillors to ask them to declare if their status is affected under the new provisions.”

Those suspended were:

  • Luke Smith – Mayor, Logan City Council. Charges that trigger the legislation include official corruption and perjury.
  • Stacey McIntosh – Councillor, Logan City Council. A stealing charge triggers the legislation.
  • Andrew Antoniolli – Mayor (stood aside), Ipswich City Council. Fraud charges trigger the legislation.
  • Edric Walden – Mayor, Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council. Charges that trigger the legislation include misconduct in public office and forgery.
  • Greg McLean – Mayor, Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire Council. A fraud charge triggers the legislation

The legislative amendments passed last week include:

– an automatic suspension for any councillor charged with one of a series of offences;
– an expansion of the powers of the Local Government Minister to dismiss or suspend a council or a councillor in the public interest;
– an obligation on councillors to report another councillor’s conflict of interest or material personal interest, if they believe or suspect on reasonable grounds, there is an undeclared interest;
– improved procedures for the handling of complaints against councillors to make the process more transparent and independent, via a Councillor Conduct Tribunal which will hear and determine alleged misconduct;
– the introduction of an Independent Assessor to assess complaints against councillors, taking this role out of the hands of council CEOs; and
– a ban on political donations from property developers.

Mr Hinchliffe said the reforms were in response to the CCC’s Operation Belcarra, which found widespread non-compliance with legislative obligations relating to local government elections and political donations.

A meeting of LGAQ’s 16 member Policy Executive leaders in Brisbane in late April voted to go further than the CCC’s recommended regulations to ensure the sector was the most transparent level of government.

Read a copy of the Policy Executive Decision here

LGAQ chief executive officer Greg Hallam said councils were determined to be leaders in transparency and accountability to guarantee public confidence and trust.

“The LGAQ demands the highest standards of integrity in all aspects of local government operations,” he said.

“We look forward to working with the State Government and driving these far-reaching proposals.”

Read a copy of Mr Hallam’s May 17 opinion piece from the Courier-Mail here


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