New councillor complaints office starts operating
A NEW body to receive, assess, investigate and prosecute complaints about councillor conduct in Queensland started up this week.
The Office of the Independent Assessor started on Monday, taking about 60 complaints that are under investigation or are awaiting assessment.
It also marks the start of the new Code of Conduct for Councillors to enforce higher standards of behaviour from local government representatives.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe welcomed the OIA, which is headed up by respected crime investigator Kathleen Florian as the inaugural independent assessor.
"The independent assessor has the power to investigate and determine genuine complaints more effectively and efficiently while being able to quickly dismiss vexatious complaints,” Mr Hinchcliffe he said.
"The new Code of Conduct has a strong focus on the three Rs - that councillors carry out their respons- ibilities conscientiously, they treat people in a respectful way and ensure their conduct does not reflect adversely on the reputation of the council.”
The Ccde is backed by a range of penalties including reprimands, orders for counselling and reimbursement of costs.
Ms Florian said the OIA's job was to hold councillors who would commit misconduct to account, for the benefit of the community and benefit of all councillors trying to do the right thing.
The OIA will work with the new Councillor Complaints Tribunal and the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs to provide councillors with advice, training and information.
The Code applies to all Councils, except Brisbane City Council which has a separate Code.
For more visit www.oia.qld.gov.au. The Code of Conduct can be viewed at www.dlgrma.qld.gov.au/code-of-conduct.