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On 1 May 2019 the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced to the Queensland Legislative Assembly.

The Bill has been referred to the Economics and Governance Committee who will be conducting an inquiry into the Bill. More information regarding the making of submissions, public hearings and the enquiry in general can be located on the Committee’s website.

Should the Bill be passed in due course, these reforms will apply to local governments and candidates for the 2020 local government elections. More information will be made available in due course by the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs here.

The Councillor Conduct Tribunal has been established under the Local Government (Councillor Complaints) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018.

The Tribunal is an independent body, made up of six members and a president appointed by the Governor in Council. It is responsible for dealing with complaints of misconduct by councillors.

The Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs provides administrative and secretariat assistance to the Tribunal to enable it to effectively perform its responsibilities.

Functions

The functions of the Tribunal are:

  1. to hear and decide complaints of misconduct by councillors as referred by the Office of the Independent Assessor
  2. to investigate the suspected inappropriate conduct of a councillor referred to the local government, by the assessor and to be dealt with by the local government
  3. to make recommendations to the local government about dealing with the conduct.

Tribunal decisions

After conducting a hearing, the Tribunal must decide whether or not the councillor has engaged in misconduct. If the Tribunal decides the councillor has engaged in misconduct, the Tribunal must then decide what action it will take to discipline the councillor.

The Tribunal may decide:

  1. that no action be taken against the councillor
  2. to make one or more of the following orders or recommendations that the councillor—
    1. make a public admission that the councillor has engaged in misconduct
    2. attend training or counselling to address the councillor’s conduct, including at the expense of the councillor
    3. pay to the local government an amount that is not more than the monetary value of 50 penalty units
    4. reimburse the local government for all or some of the costs arising from the councillor’s misconduct
    5. is not to act as the deputy mayor or the chairperson of a committee of the local government for the remainder of the councillor’s term
    6. is not to attend a stated number of local government meetings, up to a maximum of 3 meetings
    7. is removed, or must resign, from a position representing the local government, other than the office of councillor; or
    8. an order reprimanding the councillor for the conduct

Publication

The Tribunal must keep a record and provide a notice of the decision including the reasons for the decision to:

  1. the assessor; and
  2. the councillor; and
  3. the local government; and
  4. where possible the person who made the complaint.

Generally, a notice about a decision given to the assessor or councillor must be a QCAT Information notice for the decision.

Appeals

A person who is entitled under section 150AS(3) of the Act to be given a QCAT information notice for a decision of the Tribunal may apply to QCAT, as provided under the QCAT Act, for a review of the decision.