At its first meeting of the quadrennium in June last year your LGAQ Policy Executive resolved to take a firm stance to push back against both the Crime and Corruption Commission and the Office of the Independent Assessor when it was perceived they were exceeding their legal remit.
The actions taken by the LGAQ following that resolute policy stance may not always be obvious to members at first due to the restrictions on our ability to declare publicly just what we are doing. For example, we are bound by the rules of sub judice while various court cases are ongoing as well as by legislative prohibitions on revealing other action taken.
The recent finalisation of the former Logan City Council matter in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has allowed me to communicate and advocate more publicly in all forms of media on the LGAQ’s strident opposition to the CCC’s unfair and unnecessary intrusion into an industrial matter and the unjust outcome of the now failed action on the former councillors affected.
Moreover, it allowed me to call out the double standards again publicly between the treatment of elected local government members and the treatment of State MPs.
These issues were front and centre of our discussions with the Deputy Premier at our first meeting with him in his capacity as Local Government Minister last year. They continue to form part of our ongoing discussions.
On top of this, we made a substantive submission to the State Government in April on the challenges members are experiencing with the Conflict of Interest provisions in the Local Government Act. This submission included case studies provided by 27 member councils and suggested amendments to help mitigate against the unintended consequences being experienced.
We continue to actively pursue those necessary changes.
I continue to be limited in what I can say publicly regarding our advocacy in relation to the CCC’s operations, suffice to say this advocacy is cogent and being well and forcefully argued at the highest levels of government and in every organ of State power. More will become apparent in the coming weeks and months.
Friends, we take our constitutional obligation to protect and promote our members interest very seriously. It is our mission and duty.
Furthermore, we do it with every resource available to us, including the Councillors and Officers Insurance Cover offered through LGMS, which has proved invaluable in providing proper defences for those investigated and/or charged by the CCC or OIA.
That said, we will never knowingly support criminal activity or malfeasance in local government in any form. We are not Santa Claus-like in our power to know who is naughty or nice.
But we do hold dearly an individual’s right to the presumption of innocence.
Make no mistake, the LGAQ has thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at upholding our duty, both publicly and privately.
There have been multiple teams of solicitors and barristers involved in these matters for months, if not the past few years. At last month’s LGAQ Board meeting it was confirmed that we would take certain current matters right through to the High Court if need be.
We do strive to work cooperatively with the CCC and OIA when required, whether it be through joint training on crime prevention, producing practical guidelines for council use, or developing Apps.
But rest assured that the LGAQ has our members backs well and truly covered. United we stand.