New watchdog to assess councillor complaints
A NEW Queensland government appointed watchdog will investigate councillor misconduct in the hopes of stemming the tide of complaints against Local Government councillors.
It comes in the wake of the Department of Local Government revealing to the Chronicle the Fraser Coast's councillors have topped the list in Queensland for the number of complaints filed against them, a total of 75 complaints.
Six of the complaints are yet to be finalised.
About $14.1 million was allocated to appoint the council assessor, who will work alongside the Crime and Corruption Commission.
The new watchdog will have the power to seize documents, compel people to attend interviews and dismiss vexatious complaints.
When asked about his thoughts on the move, Fraser Coast CEO Ken Diehm said he would welcome reform that improves transparency "provided that it affords councillors the rights of procedural fairness and natural justice."
"A key component of the reforms includes removing a council's CEO from undertaking the preliminary assessment of complaints against a councillor," Mr Diehm said.
"I don't think you will find any local Government CEO that is unhappy with that."
Last year, former Local Government Minister Mark Furner slammed the Fraser Coast council for being one of the most complained about councils in the state.
At the time, it was subject to more than 50 of the 178 complaints relating to Queensland's 77 councils.
A spokeswoman from DILGP said the Office of the Independent Assessor is currently being established and is expected to begin operations in December this year.