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Senior mayors say CCC ruined reputations of wrongly charged councillors

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Sixteen of Queensland’s most senior mayors and civic leaders have formally urged Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to hold an independent inquiry into the conduct of the state’s corruption watchdog.

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The call signals a new stage in the simmering tensions between local councils and the Crime and Corruption Commission over the use of its powers to investigate the local government sector.

Those tensions boiled over this week after fraud charges the CCC imposed on eight former Logan City councillors two years ago were sensationally dropped because of insufficient evidence.

The CCC’s actions, sparked by the councillors voting to sack Logan’s CEO Sharon Kelsey following a poor performance review, resulted in the dismissal of the council, destroying the careers of those charged.

However, despite widespread outrage in local government over the treatment of the councillors, CCC chair Alan MacSporran has vigorously defended the commission’s actions and Palaszczuk has rejected the need for a fresh inquiry.

Now, the Local Government Association of Queensland’s powerful policy executive has issued a communique, saying the CCC’s actions disenfranchised Logan electors and damaged the livelihoods and reputations and those wrongly charged.

“The voters Logan and indeed the wider Queensland community deserve answers,” the communique states.

“They deserve the confidence that this case will be properly scrutinised so another Queensland council and community do not suffer the same fate.”

The LGAQ policy executive, whose members are drawn from councils across the state, has joined the likes of Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate in lashing the CCC and MacSporran himself over the handling of the Logan issue.

The LGAQ has insisted that the CCC intervened in what was an industrial issue over Kelsey’s performance as council CEO.

However, the Premier this week said MacSporran retained her support and said the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee could investigate the issue as part of its five-yearly review of the CCC.

MacSporran said that while the CCC accepted the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to drop the charges “it will not deter this agency from investigating serious allegations of corrupt conduct, and where warranted, placing people before the courts”.

He later said in an ABC interview that he would would have done nothing differently in relation to the Logan councillors.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Friday defended sacking the entire council and appointing an administrator, saying it was the appropriate course of action at the time.

“The CCC did an investigation, the police made a range of decisions, the DPP have now made a decision also, but that doesn’t change the way the government rightly reacted,” he said.

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