The OIA assesses, investigates and prepares councillor misconduct complaints for possible referral to the Councillor Conduct Tribunal (CCT) to decide.
Misconduct includes conduct that adversely affects, directly or indirectly, the honest and impartial performance of the councillor’s functions, or the exercise of the councillor’s powers, or non-compliance with an Act by the councillor.
Following an investigation, the matter may undergo a natural justice process which gives the councillor an opportunity to respond to the complaint, prior to a decision to refer a matter to the CCT or not.
The CCT is a separate independent body which decides councillor misconduct complaints and issues any orders.
Assessment of a misconduct complaint
- The OIA assesses complaints to decide if the complaint has reached the threshold as suspected misconduct and should be investigated as alleged misconduct, dismissed or subject to other action
- In assessing complaints, the OIA may make preliminary inquiries with council or witnesses before a decision is made whether to proceed to an investigation.
- If a decision is made to investigate, councillors are generally advised of the complaint and allegation/s but there are occasions when a councillor is not advised straight away.
- The identity of the complainant is not provided to the councillor.
- Councillors have the option, if they agree with the facts of the complaint, to expedite the matter to the CCT for hearing and not go to a full investigation.
- Councillors may make a submission about the alleged misconduct and this may expedite an investigation.
- Investigators have powers to compel witnesses to provide statements, produce documents and attend interviews if necessary.
- At the end of the investigation, the matter is considered again and it may progress to the natural justice process and possible referral to the CCT, or it may be dismissed.
Preparation for the CCT hearing
- A Statement of Facts on the alleged misconduct is prepared.
- It sets out the allegation, the particulars and facts and explains the category of misconduct.
- Under the natural justice process, the statement is shared with the councillor who may provide a further response. This is required by law (section 150AA LG Act).
- General advice about previous CCT orders for similar conduct is provided at this stage.
- Councillors have two weeks to respond to straightforward matters and longer for complex matters.
- A councillor’s response is considered by the OIA in deciding if an application for a hearing proceeds to the CCT.
- Matters can be dismissed at this point.
- If an application is referred to the CCT, it is the CCT which decides whether misconduct has been sustained and any orders.
- This guideline ( 213.2 KB) sets out what will be considered in determining if an application proceeds to the CCT.
- Councillor Conduct Tribunal processes are separate to the OIA.
- Complainants may apply for the assessment decision to be reviewed if a matter is dismissed and the case closed. Request for review must be made within 30 calendar days from the date of the outcome advice.
- Councillors can review CCT decisions through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
Last updated: 20 Dec 2023