MAYOR: New body to investigate councils 'best thing' for Qld
LEGISLATION to establish an statutory office to independently deal with council complaints is the "best thing” to happen for local governments according to Southern Downs mayor Tracy Dobie.
The new Office of the Independent Assessor would process and investigate allegations against councillors and council staff - a responsibility which currently lies with the council CEO or mayor.
Cr Dobie said mayors and CEOs weren't trained in undertaking investigations.
"The process places a lot of pressure on those who (currently) have to investigate and often they do it in isolation” the mayor said.
On Tuesday the state government pledged $14.125 million to establish the office if legislation currently before the Queensland Parliament is approved.
The announcement comes in the wake of widespread corruption in some Queensland councils.
But the mayor said the legislation could go further.
At a Civic Leaders Summit last week, Cr Dobie called for the state government to deal with vexatious claims through the new body.
Despite a huge increase in the number of complaints against local councils across Queensland, only 13 per cent have been deemed valid upon investigation.
"In the society these days where local government is an easy target there needs to be some balance to the way complaints are dealt with,” the mayor said.
"People can say what they like about local government and there is no retribution.”
"No one deserves the attacks to undermine the reputation of elected representative where there is no legitimate allegations to be made.”
The mayor hoped new legislation would take action against people who make repeated, vexatious claims.
Cr Dobie said corruption within other Queensland councils had an impact on her and other Southern Downs councillors.
"The behaviour of some mayors and councillors is very disappointing... when you see mayors ripping off their rate payers that is very upsetting for those who do the right thing,” she said.
"We go to great lengths to do the right thing by community and in keeping with the local government act.”
The mayor said she hoped appointing an independent assessor would help restore the public's confidence in local government.
"I think it is important that if any person has a complaint we welcome those complaints because they must be investigated.”