Independent MP Rob Pyne has had a victory, with the government announcing a review of local government complaints and councillor conduct – although Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said it was at the request from local government stakeholders themselves.
Mr Pyne defected from the Labor Party to the cross bench after clashing with the party leadership over his concerns, one of which was how complaints within the council system were dealt with. Earlier this week, Ms Trad said her department had spent $20,000 dealing with Mr Pyne’s concerns.
But she had previously declined to launch a review into local government procedure, instead saying the current procedure for dealing with complaints was adequate.
That changed, Ms Trad said, following a request from Local Government Managers Australia “who wrote to me recently to express concerns with the role of local governments’ chief executive officers in the preliminary assessment and general management of complaints”.
“These procedures have not been comprehensively reviewed since they were introduced in 2009 and this review is timely to ensure there is a modern, fair, transparent and accountable system in place to manage complaints,” she told Parliament.
“…The Local Government Association of Queensland has also sought changes to the way in which complaints are dealt with under the Local Government Act 2009, including the current inability to seek a review of those decisions and the need to better ensure natural justice is afforded to all parties.”
Ms Trad said the review would be conducted by an independent panel, with former Integrity Commissioner David Solomon to lead the review.
“The review will examine the statutory provisions relating to complaints to assess the effectiveness of the current legislative and policy framework and make recommendations about policy, legislative and operational changes required to improve the system of dealing with complaints about councillors’ conduct,” she said.
“I expect the panel’s recommendations to be completed within six months.”
Mr Pyne and Ms Trad fell out over the local government issue, with Ms Trad referring herself to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee to have the issue dealt with.