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What role for the CCC in local government?

Thursday, 2 August 2018

It is time to tackle the difficult and often thorny issue of the role of the Crime and Corruption Commission in the daily life of Queensland councils. Over the nearly 30-year history of the CCC (originally the Criminal Justice Commission) its significance has waxed and waned commensurate with the government of the day, its enabling legislation and funding provided to it. 

I can honestly say that Queensland is better off for having a crime and corruption entity. With only a few exceptions, the LGAQ and I personally have supported the work of that body, even when our members were under duress. It is an important and necessary part of our State’s governance and oversight fabric because it ensures public confidence in our state and local systems of government. The LGAQ has and continues to support all but two of the recommendations of the CCC’s Belcarra Report. Indeed, our 10-point Beyond Belcarra plan goes beyond what was recommended. 

Where we draw the line is any attempt by the CCC to involve itself in the industrial relations process. Queensland already has an Industrial Relations Commission and an Industrial Court. There should only ever be three parties in industrial relations - the government of the day to set the legislative framework and employer and employee representatives. The LGAQ also believes that while the CCC is the paramount body on investigating and preventing crime and corruption it does not have the specialist skills or deep understanding of local government to be influencing or designing the entire local government system. That job is for the state government, councils, practitioners and the LGAQ. The system of local government must produce efficient and effective results as well as ensure integrity of the process. At the end of the day, inefficiency arising from a process-bound system has as great or greater cost to the community than corruption. Both are unwanted. A workable balance is required. 

At Local Government House, we welcome the fact the State Government has provided the CCC with extra funds to discharge its responsibilities. Our hope is the commission is able speed up its current inquiries, find and root out corruption where it exists in local government, and report to the state government on reasonable and practical ways to prevent future crime and corruption in our sphere of government. The CCC has our unqualified support in those tasks and we ask it to expedite those inquiries as quickly as possible. 

In light of the important and ongoing work of the CCC, the LGAQ this week sent all member councils a copy of the verbal submission made by CCC Chair Mr Alan MacSporran QC to the Finance, Economics and Governance Committee of Parliament hearing on the Dissolution of Ipswich City Council Bill. Mr MacSporran sets out clearly his expectations of councils, his concerns and strong views on the use of private emails to conduct council business. I urge you to watch his presentation. 

Finally, a big pat on the back to the Banana Shire Council for being the first council in Queensland to lodge an annual conference motion on the LGAQ’s new user-friendly motions digital lodgement system. Well done. 

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

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