This week has proven a sobering reminder of the threat the COVID-19 pandemic still poses as communities in Victoria are once again locked down amid skyrocketing cases. It is a reminder that councils need to stay vigilant and keep reinforcing the need for their communities to remain COVID safe as Queensland continues to move forward with the winding back of restrictions. The borders are reopening to all states except Victoria from today thanks to the hard work of every Queenslander as well the leadership of all three levels of government.
It has not been easy. This is especially true for Queensland’s First Nations councils and communities. They have endured the strictest quarantine requirements in the country for longer than other areas of the state to ensure vulnerable residents were not exposed to COVID-19. These communities were given little time to prepare before the Biosecurity Act directions kicked in and they were locked down. But they acted swiftly with the health of their communities of utmost priority.
Three months later the proof is in the figures. This pandemic could have had a devastating impact on our First Nations communities. But thanks to their hard work, not one case has been recorded. They are now able to decide what is the best way to move forward from here. On behalf of LGAQ I would like to thank our First Nations Mayors, councillors and their communities for their hard work throughout this challenging time.
Later this month, on July 31, we will be holding our first Indigenous Leaders Forum for this term, albeit virtually. These forums provide an important opportunity for our Indigenous leaders to get together and discuss key issues.I look forward to virtually meeting with you all then.
Time for crucial reform to finally be addressed
This time last week your Association wrote to both Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington to request they urgently support the creation of an offence to limit publication of complaints made to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) during council elections to allow the watchdog time to assess them.
It followed a renewed call from the CCC for the offence to finally be created after decades of calls for change from the CCC and its predecessors as well as the LGAQ. We do not want to see another quadrennial election go by without any move to stop the CCC being used as a political football. This new offence would not stop legitimate complaints from being made. It would also not impinge on the freedom of the press nor the public’s right to know. It would simply compel a complainant not to make their complaint public for a period of at least three months to allow their allegations to be assessed.
The CCC’s own figures show it receives an average of 27 complaints a month about mayors or councillors during local government election periods, compared to an average of 12 per month during non-election years. Just six per cent of the allegations made during an election period are substantiated. That means a whopping 94 per cent are not substantiated. But by the time they are dismissed, the damage has usually been done. As I have previously said, no one who is guilty of wrongdoing will escape justice due to this reform.