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Palaszczuk Government must guarantee it will not remove the element of intent from new integrity offences

News Release

Monday, 16 March 2020

Queensland councils call on the Palaszczuk Government to guarantee it will pass its new integrity offences as drafted and not criminalise administrative errors and honest mistakes.

With Cabinet meeting in Brisbane today, the Local Government Association of Queensland is strongly urging the Government to formally reject the Crime and Corruption Commission’s request for new MP and councillor conflict of interest offences to be amended to remove the element of intent.

Acting LGAQ CEO Sarah Buckler said cooperation between the two levels of government had never been more important than right now as Queensland grapples with the Coronavirus.

“To remove the need for intent goes against well-established legal principles and could expose local councillors to the risk of prosecution and jail for innocent mistakes, errors of judgement or basic administrative oversight,” Ms Buckler said.

 “The community needs all levels of government working constructively together and right now is not the time for the State to ignore the recommendations of the parliamentary review of its laws as well as the concerns councils, former attorneys-general, the Queensland Law Society, civil libertarians and both the Clerk of Parliament and the Ethics Committee.”

Statements in opposition to the removal of intent from the proposed new offences are attached here.

Legislation containing the new offences is due to be debated in Parliament at the end of the month.

The new offences include a jail term of up to two years for councillors caught breaching conflict of interest and register of interest requirements with dishonest intent.

Parliament’s Economics and Governance Committee last month unanimously rejected the CCC’s changes and recommended the new offences be passed as drafted.

The Government is yet to table its response to the committee’s report.

Ms Buckler said it was imperative the Government’s response made clear it would not buckle to the CCC’s request and would move to pass the new offences as drafted.

She said it was also important the Government gave certainty to the more than 1500 Queenslanders currently vying for election ahead of the March 28 council polls.

“These Queenslanders have put up their hand to serve their community. They need to know they won’t be put in the position where they could soon be facing jail time just for doing their job.

“We have already seen a reduced number of people prepared to stand for election, we want to see those that have nominated to serve their community have full confidence that they won’t potentially face jail for making a mistake.”

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Vogler, Media Executive
Local Government Association of Queensland

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006


 

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