Bullying and complaints get scrutinised in Qld councils

By The Mandarin

Thursday April 21, 2016

Former Queensland integrity commissioner Dr David Solomon will head up an inquiry into how complaints about the state’s mayors and councillors are managed.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Queensland state government was acting on concerns raised by local government bodies.

The announcement comes less than a week after the Victorian government was handed an inquiry report, authored by former top mandarin Terry Moran, recommending Geelong council be sacked for failing to address bullying complaints against councillors.

Solomon will lead a panel undertaking the review, including former Logan City Council CEO Gary Kellar and former Noosa Shire Council mayor Noel Playford.

The review will look at both legislative and policy provisions and make recommendations about to improve the system, and report within six month.

Trad said the review was about ensuring councillors are held to high standards of ethical and legal behaviour, which puts the public’s interests ahead of any individual interests. Complaints should be dealt with promptly by the appropriate body in accordance with the rules of procedural fairness and natural justice, she added.

“Recently, Local Government Managers Australia Queensland wrote to me expressing concerns with the potentially conflicted role of local governments’ chief executive officers in the preliminary assessment and general management of complaints.

“Local Government Association Queensland has also sought changes to the way in which complaints are dealt with under the Local Government Act 2009, particularly the inability to currently seek review of those decisions and the need to better ensure natural justice is afforded to all parties.

“These procedures have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were introduced in 2009, so this review is timely to ensure there is a modern, fair, transparent and accountable system in place to manage complaints.”

Following the March 19 Queensland local government elections, 40 new mayors and 247 new councillors have been appointed. Induction sessions are being rolled out for these new councillors in nearly 60 locations across the state. Trad said these seminars will be used to ensure the newly elected representatives are supported in their new roles and are clear on their responsibilities, ethical behaviour and the importance of declaring any potential conflict of interest.

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