CCC report recommends action on local government corruption in Queensland
The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has tabled its report in State Parliament on its investigation into Ipswich City Council.
The investigation began in October 2016 following allegations of corrupt conduct relating to the then Mayor, Chief Executive Officer and a Chief Operating Officer.
It has resulted in 15 people being charged with 86 criminal offences. Of the 15 people charged, seven are either current or former council employees or councillors. This includes two mayors, two CEOs and one Chief Operating Officer.
Separate to criminal allegations, the investigation identified significant governance failures and cultural issues which were of concern to the CCC.
The CCC’s report titled Culture and corruption risks in local government: Lessons learned from an investigation into Ipswich City Council (Operation Windage) outlines the corruption risks from governance failures and cultural issues in local government.
The CCC has made four recommendations to address these corruption risks across the broader local government sector.
That all councillors across Queensland ensure that they are sufficiently informed of their council’s policies and procedures, particularly in relation to financial controls and its compliance with these policies and procedures. That the Department of Local Government Racing and Multicultural Affairs provide information and/or training to inform councillors of their rights and responsibilities as councillors, including in areas such as governance and financial literacy.
a) That a minimum set of standards for policies and procedures and monitoring compliance be established for areas identified as high risk for councils.
b) That the Department of Local Government Racing and Multicultural Affairs, the CCC, the Queensland Audit Office and any other relevant stakeholders form a working group to identify areas of high risk and develop a set of model policies and procedures for these risk areas.
a) That the Department of Local Government Racing and Multicultural Affairs: i. Examine the need for councils to continue to utilise controlled entities; and ii. Review the beneficial enterprise provisions in the Local Government Act 2009 and City of Brisbane Act 2010 including whether further controls and regulation should be introduced to ensure that controlled entities do not expose the council to greater risks of corruption.
b) That councils’ controlled entities should be deemed to be units of public administration, bringing these entities within the oversight of the CCC and also subjecting them to the Right to Information Act 2009.
a) That the Local Government Advisory Group include a prohibition on the use of private email accounts when conducting official business in the councillors’ code of conduct.
b) That individual councils should also introduce a local law supported by appropriate policy and procedure which applies to councillors and employees to prohibit the use of private email accounts for the purpose of conducting official business.
Parliament is currently considering legislation to remove Ipswich City Council and appoint an administrator
The CCC's report is available here.