466 per cent spike in complaints about councillors
NEARLY one in ten complaints assessed by the councillor conduct investigative body since it began in December have been referred to the corruption watchdog.
The Office of the Independent Assessor's second quarterly report shows of the 917 complaints made against councillors in the last financial year, 74 "matters of possible corrupt conduct" were referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission.
The number of complaints against councillors has risen 466 per cent from 162 in 2017/18 and 824 of were received after the OIA was created in December last year.
The office dismissed 477 complaints and has 152 ongoing misconduct investigations but 79 investigations are on hold.
It has referred 22 matters to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and 32 are with its legal team pending possible referral to the same body, while 20 were sent back to the councils involved.
The CCT has made 13 decisions, upholding ten complaints and dismissing three.
QUEENSLAND COUNCILS WITH THE MOST COMPLAINTS
Independent assessor Kathleen Florian said her office was dealing with councillor conduct complaints in relation to 51 out of 77 Queensland councils.
Gold Coast City Council had the most complaints of any single council with 177 but more than half have already been dismissed or require no further action.
Brisbane City Council is not under the office's jurisdiction.
Moreton Bay Regional Council had 80, Logan City Council had 46, Redland City Council had 24, Ipswich City Council had 17, Sunshine Coast had 15 and Noosa Shire Council had five.
All complaints about Ipswich City Council and Logan City Council related to former councillors.
Across regional Queensland, there were 124 complaints related to councils in Far North Queensland, 86 in Greater Brisbane and Darling Downs, 71 in the Wide Bay Burnett area, 45 in North Queensland, 37 in the North West and Gulf, 31 in the Greater Whitsundays, 23 in Central Queensland, 17 in the Far West, 16 in the Torres and Western Cape and 14 in South West Queensland.
COUNCILLOR CONFLICT OF INTEREST MOST COMMON ALLEGATION
Within the complaints there were 1200 separate issues or allegations raised that needed to be assessed individually and the most common was conflicts of interest with 221.
Ms Florian said the OIA had investigated 144 conflicts of interest in the past six months
making it "the highest-risk category for both councillor complaints and investigations".
"Local government councillors are involved in high volume, high value decision making in relation to local communities to which they are closely connected," she said.
"There is nothing inherently wrong with a councillor having a conflict of interest. It only becomes an issue if a conflict of interest is not properly declared or managed."
She said the capacity of some councillors to properly identify and disclose a conflict of interest "has been identified as an issue by the OIA".
The other most common issues or allegations raised were councillors breaching the Code of Conduct with 191 issues raised and breach of trust with 153 issues raised.
Also of note were 45 issues raised in regards to social media while a category simply labelled "reprisal" recorded three issues.