Reforms to let councils get on with the job

Published: 17th November 2023

The peak body for Queensland councils has welcomed the critical overhaul of the councillor complaint system passed by Parliament on Wednesday.

Local Government Association of Queensland Chief Executive Officer Alison Smith said a robust, independent and efficient councillor conduct regime was critical to the functioning of the local government sector.

“But for this regime to work, it must strengthen the ability of the local government sector to represent Queensland's local communities - it must not hamper the ability of mayors and councillors to do the job their communities elected them and expect them to do,” Ms Smith said.

“This has been a long road to secure these reforms and I’d like to thank the State Government and Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government Steven Miles for listening to the sector’s concerns and for introducing the changes before the end of the current council term.

“The council complaints process established under the Office of the Independent Assessor has not been functioning as it should, a system that has been more focused on generating complaints, rather than regulating conduct. 

“We thank the State Government for listening to the concerns of the local government sector, agreeing to establish a Parliamentary Inquiry into the concerns raised last year, accepting all 40 recommendations from the inquiry, and now progressing these changes with reforms passed by Parliament.

“The LGAQ and its members have been calling for these reforms to be progressed before the end of the local government four-year term given the risk that good people would not run in the March 2024 council elections unless they knew improvements to the councillor complaints system would be made.

“We thank the Government for listening and ensuring the Bill was passed in time.”

Reforms include:

  • introduces a new statutory preliminary assessment process, including a time limitation for the receipt of complaints, notices and information about councillor conduct. 
  • introduces an administrative process to declare a person a vexatious complainant
  • removes requirements for certain details to be published in a local government’s councillor conduct register
  • removes the provision of ‘training’ from the functions of the OIA
  • introduces a preliminary assessment process that the OIA must undertake to determine how best to deal with a complaint, notice or information about councillor conduct, including a time limitation for accepting the complaint, notice or information
  • updates natural justice requirements in relation to suspected conduct breaches
  • redefines a breach of a local government’s acceptable requests guidelines as a ‘conduct breach’ and makes other changes to the conduct definitions
  • recognises the provision of official departmental advice to councillors.

For more information, please contact:

Dan Knowles, LGAQ Media Advisor

0432 681 664