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Move to charge $200 fee for integrity complaints against councils defeated

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Local council leaders have voted down a bid to introduce a $200 fee for any complaint about their conduct made to the local government watchdog.

 

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Mount Isa City Council had tried to have the fee introduced for any complaint made to the Office of the Independent Assessor, but was thwarted when most delegates at the Local Government Association’s annual conference defeated the council’s motion.

The council is one of many in Queensland struggling to deal with the volume of complaints of alleged misconduct as well as the OIA’s methods of investigating claims against councillors.

Councillor Peta MacRea told the conference the council had spent an estimated $200,000 over the last 12 months on dealing with “politically motivated, vexatious and frivolous complaints”.

However, the move was voted down 120 votes to 93 after Gladstone deputy mayor Kahn Goodluck told the conference supporting such a fee would send the wrong message to the community.

“I just caution all delegates here today I think this has the potential to send the wrong message to the community whereby local government as a sector might promote that integrity should be tied to affordability.”

“I don’t think that’s the right message that we want to send.”

“We all understand that integrity is of the utmost importance and we shouldn’t send a message that says you can only report integrity or misconduct issues if you can afford to do so.”

However, the conference supported another motion by Mount Isa City Council that the OIA refuse to accept anonymous integrity complaints against councils.

The controversy surrounding the OIA has dominated the LGAQ conference in Mackay after news broke of the agency’s pursuit of Barcaldine Mayor Sean Dillon for his public criticisms of the handling the the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The Palaszczuk Government has agreed to hold a parliamentary inquiry into the OIA after a flood of complaints from local councils about its behaviour.

 

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