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Confidence question: Miles says more concerns raised about council watchdog

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Deputy Premier Steven Miles has revealed more concerns about the behaviour of the integrity watchdog charged with ensuring proper conduct among Queensland ‘s 77 local councils.

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He was speaking after formally announcing a parliamentary committee review into the Office of the Independent Assessor, under fire for its pursuit of Barcaldine Mayor Sean Dillon after he criticised the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Mr Miles, who is also local government minister, said in recent days he had also heard fresh concerns about some of the watchdog’s other investigations. Miles has spent time this week with mayors attending the Local Government Association of Queensland’s annual conference in Mackay.

“Queenslanders expect councillors to be strong and fair representatives of their communities,” he told parliament on Tuesday.

“The reforms we have implemented in local government are extremely important, but confidence in the system of integrity is also crucial.

“In light of recent issues I’ve asked the parliamentary committee that has oversight of the OIA to conduct a review.”

The OIA is investigation Mayor Dillon for potential misconduct after he questioned whether his local health service could roll out COVID-19 vaccines and not “stuff it up”.

It says it is determining whether he potentially committed misconduct for undermining public confidence in the vaccine rollout with his comments about the Central West Hospital and Health Service rolling out the jab in February.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came to the mayor’s defence last week, calling the OIA probe “ridiculous”.

She said Dillon had done a great job promoting the rollout in the Barcaldine region.

LGAQ President Mark Jamieson said Mr Dillon’s case was a clear example of the system “going wrong”.

“We simply cannot have a situation where elected members are scared to represent their communities in the frank and fearless way Queenslanders not only expect but deserve,” he said.

“The LGAQ has always supported the role of the OIA but after three years, we believe it is time for a parliamentary review to look at what is working and what is not.”

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