The OIA assesses certain complaints about councillor conduct in Queensland.
Legislative changes to the assessment process commenced on 22 November 2023 through the Local Government (Councillor Conduct) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2023.
- Complaints that are assessed as a suspected conduct breach may be referred to the relevant council for resolution.
- Complaints assessed as alleged misconduct may be subject to an OIA investigation and possible referral to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to determine.
- A complaint is referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission if it raises a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct.
- During assessment, complainants, councillors and councils may be asked for further information to assist with the proper assessment of a complaint.
In determining the outcome of the assessment of a complaint, the Independent Assessor must decide:
- if there is a suspected conduct breach, if it will be referred to the relevant council to resolve
- whether to investigate the conduct, to dismiss or take no further action in relation to the complaint based on statutory considerations, or
- not to deal with the complaint but make a recommendation that the Independent Assessor considers to be appropriate including attending training, counselling or mediation.
Under the legislation, factors that must be taken into consideration
The OIA must dismiss a complaint or take no further action if:
- it was received more than one year after the conduct occurred, or within six months of it becoming known to the complainant, but within two years after the conduct occurred (subject to exceptional circumstances or it involves suspected corrupt conduct)
- it relates solely to a councillor’s personal conduct, unless it is suspected corrupt conduct
- the office of the councillor is vacated, unless it is suspected corrupt conduct
- the conduct was engaged in by the councillor to comply, honestly and without negligence, with a guideline made by the Director-General of the department responsible for local government
- the complainant is subject to a ‘vexatious complainant’ declaration
- the complaint clearly does not constitute a conduct breach or misconduct, or
- it is not in the public interest to proceed.
The OIA must also consider the application of the Human Rights Act 2019.
Under the legislation, factors that may be taken into consideration
The OIA has a robust assessment process where a complaint may be dismissed or subject to no further action if:
- the conduct has already been, is being, or may be dealt with by another entity
- it does not contain sufficient information for a proper assessment
- it is not a justifiable use of resources to take further action
- it is vexatious, frivolous, not made in good faith, or lacks substance or credibility
- any steps taken by the councillor mitigate or remedy the effects of the conduct
- the consequences, both financial and non-financial, resulting from the conduct
- for any reasons or factor relevant to the conduct (i.e., has the councillor attended training, or First Nations’ cultural considerations, or
- any steps the councillor has taken to mitigate or remedy the effects of the conduct.
Last updated: 20 Dec 2023