Here are 46 complaints about Darling Downs councillors.
Here are 46 complaints about Darling Downs councillors.

LIST: 46 complaints made about Darling Downs councillors

DOZENS of complaints against Darling Downs and southern Queensland councillors were filed to the local government conduct assessor during the past financial year.

The Office of the Independent Assessor has revealed its final statistics for the 2019-20 year, with more than 1000 complaints submitted across Queensland during that period.

Of those complaints, 82 were lodged to the OIA about councillors in the "Greater Brisbane and Darling Downs" collection, which includes Toowoomba, Western Downs, Southern Downs, Goondiwindi, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley and Somerset.

As of last month, there are still three complaints under investigation, while another four are either in front or being finalised by the Councillor Conduct Tribunal.

"While some councils have dealt with inappropriate conduct openly, objectively and fairly, other councils have expressed concerns about councillors sitting in judgment of their peers and their reluctance to substantiate a conduct allegation," independent assessor Kathleen Florian wrote in her quarterly report.

"Alliances are also cause for concern as councillors who belong to a team or voting block appear less likely to be found to have engaged in inappropriate conduct than someone who is on the political outer."

By law, each council is required to list a register of the complaints and their outcomes on its website.

The councillor in question is not named if the complaint is dismissed.

Here is a list of the complaints available on all seven council websites for the period between July 2019 and June 2020, based on when the complaint was finalised.

TOOWOOMBA REGIONAL COUNCIL

 

1. Misconduct - July 24, 2019

Complaint: Councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest when considering an application at a council meeting. Councillor may also had an opportunity to influence a council decision.

Result: The OIA dismissed the complaint, on the basis that the conduct did not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

2. Inappropriate conduct - September 26, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged that on July 26 2019, after submitting public submission letters for a proposed development, the complainant was threatened with retribution on social media by comments made by two councillors from Toowoomba Regional Council.

Result: Dismissed. The OIA delegate made the decision to take no further action on the complaint as the comment identified did not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

3. Misconduct - July 9, 2019

Complaint: That the councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest when

considering a matter at a council meeting.

Result: Following an investigation the OIA dismissed the complaint, on the basis that the conduct did not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

4. Misconduct - December 17, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest at

council and committees meetings in relation to the Community Grant Program approval. It was further alleged that the Councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest at council and committee meetings in relation to the Community Grant Policy.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action in relation to the councillor's failure to declare a conflict of interest at meetings relating to the Community Grant Program approval, on the basis that it is an unjustifiable use of OIA resources; and the councillor's failure to declare a conflict of interest at meetings relating to the Community Grant Policy on the basis that the councillor's conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

5. Misconduct - January 7, 2020

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor influenced or attempted to influence councillors to vote in a particular way at a meeting of council or one of its committees.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct did not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

6. Misconduct - August 9, 2019 and January 17, 2020

Complaint: It is alleged that a councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest at meetings relating to the Procurement Policy. It was further alleged that the councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest at meetings relating to the Advertising Spending Policy.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action, on the basis that it is an unjustifiable use of resources.

 

7. Corrupt Conduct - April 7, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor had been taking secret commissions from other business operators through his private business enterprise.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action, as any further dealing on the matter would be an unjustifiable use of resources. Inquiries were undertaken by another agency who determined that the allegation did not raise a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct. Further inquiries undertaken by the OIA did not support a reasonable suspicion of misconduct.

 

8. Misconduct - June 18, 2020

Complaint: A councillor self-referred to the OIA that they attended an information session on a matter when they had a conflict of interest in the matter. Upon realising the matter being discussed, the councillor left the meeting.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action, on the basis that the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. An information session where no decisions are made does not fall under the conflict of interest and therefore the councillor did not have to declare a conflict of interest in the matter.

 

WESTERN DOWNS REGIONAL COUNCIL

 

9. Misconduct - March 30, 2020

Complaint: A councillor self-referred a failure to declare a perceived conflict of interest when considering and voting on a matter related to an application for reconfiguring a lot, at the ordinary meeting of Western Downs Regional Council held on March 11 2020. The personal interest in this matter arose due to members of the councillor's immediate family owning a neighbouring property and business, to the property that was the subject of the application.

Result: The Office of the Independent Assessor decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. This decision was made due to the nature of the application considered at the council meeting, which was not considered to give rise to a benefit or loss to the councillor's family members, regardless of the outcome of the matter.

 

10. Misconduct - April 28, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor refused to survey ratepayers and attend meetings about the Bunya Mountains Dark Sky Park, despite the majority of ratepayers who are predominantly absent owners of accommodation in the Bunya Mountains being in favour of the matter.

Result: The Office of the Independent Assessor dismissed this as the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. Decisions were made in relation to this matter by council staff and not by any councillor. Various community members voted against the matter at a community meeting on November 22, 2018.

 

SOUTHERN DOWNS REGIONAL COUNCIL

 

11. Misconduct - July 9, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that when speaking to a resident a councillor referred to a local business as being illegal.

Result: The OIA delegate decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct does not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

12. Misconduct - July 27, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged councillor one failed to sanction a council officer when they undertook alleged reprisal action and harassment of the complainant at the complainant's workplace; councillor 2 contacted the complainant's father to discuss the complainant withdrawing a complaint made in relation to councillor two failing to sanction a council officer for alleged reprisal action and harassment of a person in his workplace; and councillor three endorsed a decision by a council officer that banned the complainant from any access to any council owned or controlled facility and/or sending emails.

Result: The OIA delegate made the decision not to investigate the conduct of councillors ones and two as the complainant did not reply to provide requested particulars in support of the allegations made. The OIA delegate made the decision to dismiss the complaint regarding councillor three as he was satisfied the conduct does not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

13. Inappropriate conduct - July 31, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor breached the Code of Conduct by sending a message on social media out of business hours to a member of the public impliedly suggesting that they were responsible for anonymous and offensive social media content which targeted the councillor.

Result: The OIA dismissed the complaint. While the OIA did not consider that this was the best way to have handled the issue the OIA took into account the distress caused by offensive social media content targeting the councillor, and that the councillor's message was not itself offensive or attacking. In these circumstances it was not considered to be a justifiable use of resources to further deal with the matter.

 

14. Misconduct - September 3, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor may have breached the Council's Complaints Management Policy when considering a complaint about a senior member of staff.

Result: The OIA dismissed the complaint as the conduct does not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

15. Inappropriate conduct - September 3, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor failed to strictly follow the Council Complaints Management Policy in following administrative requirements regarding the referral of a privacy complaint to the privacy officer.

Result: The OIA dismissed the complaint as the conduct does not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

16. Misconduct - September 12, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged a councillor had received free advertising at a community venue for a private business and had inappropriately contacted a member of the public about their social media posts relating to agreements between council and a third party.

Result: The OIA decided not to investigate the complaint about the conduct of the councillor as the complainant failed to comply with the notice by the response date. A further extension was granted, but no reply was received.

 

17. Misconduct - December 18, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest when voting on a council matter due to the councillor's perceived relationship with a community association and an office holder of that association.

Result: After an investigation, the Independent Assessor made the decision to take no further action. The relationship between the councillor and the community association was limited. The relationship between the councillor and the office holder of the association was a professional association based on mutual interests of about five years duration but was not such that it was considered that a reasonable person, informed of the circumstances might consider that that the association was such that the councillor might not make a decision in the public interest.

 

18. Inappropriate conduct - December 18, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged that a councillor failed to deal with a personal interest in a council briefing session.

Result: The OIA resolved to take no further action as the conduct does not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The Act does not require councillors to disclose their interests in a briefing session and the councillor made no comment at the session therefore it could not be said that he influenced or attempted to influence other decision makers.

 

19. Misconduct - December 28, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged that the subject councillor condoned the behaviour of another councillor's regarding their allegedly inappropriate use of social media. It was further alleged that there have been "attacks' on a community organisation by the councillor.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter as it was considered that further dealing with the complaint would be an unjustifiable use of resources, taking in to account the circumstances of this case. However, the OIA wrote to the subject councillor reinforcing the obligations of all councillors when using social media.

 

20. Misconduct - January 23, 2020

Complaint: A councillor spoke with a journalist from the Southern Free Times regarding a decision made at a council meeting on 18 December 2019 in breach of the Southern Downs Regional Councils' Code of Conduct and Media Policy by not stating the decision was a majority decision and not stating it was their personal opinion.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The article clearly outlined the majority council decision and the comment made by the councillor was clearly consistent with being their personal opinion.

 

21. Inappropriate conduct - March 11, 2020

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor failed to declare a material personal interest in a matter before council in 2016.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action the basis that the conduct did not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The councillor did declare a perceived conflict of interest or perceived conflict of interest in a transparent and accountable way.

 

22. Misconduct - March 26, 2020

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor had a conflict of interest when council considered and investigated a matter relating to the conduct of another councillor.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter as the conduct of the councillor did not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The investigation was conducted by an external provider in accordance with Council's Investigation Policy.

 

23. Inappropriate conduct - April 18, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor engaged in inappropriate conduct by having a verbal altercation with a staff member of a local business.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter as further dealing with the complaint would not be in the public interest. This decision was made consistent with the OIA's short term amnesty policy for first time councillors. The councillor has been warned that repeat complaints of a similar nature will be progressed as normal.

 

24. Misconduct - May 5, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a former councillor had sent threatening and abusive messages to a member of the public.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The conduct complained about was conduct by a person who is no longer a councillor and is therefore outside of the jurisdiction of the OIA.

 

25. Misconduct - May 15, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged a councillor's register of interests and their related persons published on the council website was not accurate and failed to list the councillor's interest in land.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter as the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The OIA reviewed the councillor's register of interests and found that it did properly record the interest in land, contrary to the allegation in the complaint.

 

26. Inappropriate conduct - May 20, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor was receiving a federal government pension at the same time as being remunerated as a local government councillor.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter as the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct within the meaning of the Act. The councillor had correctly listed the other source of income on their register of interests.

 

27. Misconduct - June 8, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor received full page advertisements supporting the councillor's election campaign from a community group at the recent election and the councillor has influenced council to give that community group preferential treatment in the maintenance of its facilities.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter as the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The OIA confirmed with council that the maintenance of the community organisations facilities was the subject of a court decision and that the councillor had no influence over the maintenance of those facilities.

 

28. Misconduct - Eight complaints

Complaint: It was alleged that at a special meeting of council on June 30 2020, a councillor took part and subsequently voted on agenda item where the councillor's business could receive a benefit.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter on the basis that taking further action would be an unjustifiable use of resources. The subject Councillor did declare their personal interest and council voted that notwithstanding the councillor's personal interest declaration they could remain and vote on the matter. Consistent with the OIA's short term amnesty policy the OIA have written to the councillor, who has no previous experience in local government, providing feedback on the declaration and process followed. The Independent Assessor will be attending SDRC to conduct a workshop to build the capacity of all first time councillors to declare their personal interests, determine whether an interest amounts to a conflict of interest and in what circumstances it may be in the public interest for a councillor to remain in the room and participate in a decision or not. Given the complexity of conflict of interests in relation to SDRC water issues the OIA have recommended that the councillor obtain independent legal advice on one identified aspect of the matter.

 

LOCKYER VALLEY REGIONAL COUNCIL

 

29. Misconduct - November 29, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor over several years had caused a resident to lose their drivers licence, had damaged a resident's property and entered a resident's house and committed other forms of harassment to the resident.

Result: The OIA resolved to take no further action. While the allegations were serious, the complaint was both outside the jurisdiction of the OIA and lacking in substance.

 

GOONDIWINDI REGIONAL COUNCIL

 

There were no complaints made or finalised during the past financial year.

 

SCENIC RIM REGIONAL COUNCIL

 

30. Misconduct - July 31, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor's conduct constituted inappropriate conduct or misconduct in relation to the following; phantom parking that was to be provided in conjunction with a new road construction; the road construction which stole all of the off-road parking; and the phantom pantechnicon that was the council's mobile library.

Result: The OIA delegate made the decision to take no further action on the basis that it does not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct. As the complaint related to council decisions rather than specific councillor conduct, it does not fall under the OIA's jurisdiction.

 

31. Misconduct - September 2, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged that a councillor, in processing and submitting complaints against another councillor that were frivolous and or vexatious, was unprofessional and caused the councillor and their family stress and anguish.

Result: The Independent Assessor decided to take no further action as the councillor's conduct did not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The decision was made on the basis that a councillor has a legislated obligation to report conduct matters of other councillors. It was also found that some of the complaints were sustained and others found to have sufficient substance to raise an investigation.

 

32. Inappropriate conduct - September 5, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged that a councillor and the council has engaged in waste and extravagance in relation to bridge replacements along a road.

Result: The OIA resolved to take no further action on the basis that the complaint identified administrative decisions and actions and not councillor conduct and was therefore outside the jurisdiction of the OIA.

 

33. Inappropriate conduct - October 4

Complaint: The complainant was dissatisfied with a councillor declining to personally intervene in a material change of use application during which the complainant experienced difficulties with a council employee. The councillor recommended that the complainant use the council's complaint process to address the issue.

Result: The OIA took no further action on the complaint on the basis that the councillor's conduct did not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The OIA noted that the councillor declining to personally intervene was appropriate given the statutory limitations on the role of a councillor in the Act. The councillor's recommendation that the complainant use the council complaints process to address their concerns was appropriate.

 

34. Misconduct - November 12, 2019

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor discriminated against developers who had lodged a development application with council and influenced changes to the eventual approved development application that required a number of changes to the design of the property.

Result: The OIA resolved to take no further action on the basis that the conduct complained of was not inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The changes made to the development application outcome were made on the recommendation of council officers from the planning department, not by the councillor.

 

35. Inappropriate conduct - January 29, 2020

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor contacted a member of the public's wife via telephone and during that short call harassed the person and may have breached values and standards of behaviour of the Code of Conduct for Councillors in Queensland.

Result: The OIA resolved to take no further action on the basis that taking further action would be an unjustifiable use of resources. The language used by the councillor was not abusive or threatening, there was no course of conduct and the councillor apologised in a timely fashion for any distress caused.

 

36. Inappropriate conduct - February 17, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that at a council ordinary meeting a councillor displayed unsuitable meeting conduct when responding to questions on notice relating to a local issue.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct did not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct within the meaning of the Act.

 

37. Misconduct - February 17, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that council works had been prioritised in an area in which a councillor's relative resided.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The scope, scheduling and prioritisation of a council works project is an operational decision made by a council officer. There was no information that raised a reasonable suspicion that the councillor had influenced the decision.

 

38. Inappropriate conduct - February 18, 2020

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor was involved in a council decision to block Tamborine Mountain residents from accessing two bores, which would have helped alleviate water shortage on the mountain.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct as defined by the Act. Council decisions are not within the OIA's jurisdiction to deal with.

 

39. Inappropriate conduct - February 21, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor did not treat a person in a reasonable, just, respectful and non-discriminatory way, when the councillor approached a worker at a Council facility on 27 January 2020, in relation to the opening hours of the facility on a public holiday.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further on the basis that the conduct, as described, did not reach the threshold for inappropriate conduct or misconduct by a councillor as defined by the Act.

 

40. Other complaint - February 25, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged councillors had given an undertaking that council would enter into an agreement with a property owner.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that dealing with this complaint would be an unjustifiable use of resources. The complaint is currently being dealt with in another jurisdiction.

 

41. Misconduct - March 24, 2020

Complaint: It is alleged a councillor made misleading statements in the media relating to the referral of councillor conduct matters and about a council adopted policy.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that taking further action would be an unjustifiable use of resources.

 

42. Inappropriate conduct - March 24, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor may have engaged in inappropriate conduct or misconduct in relation to a post made to their official councillor Facebook. A member of the public reposted the councillor's post to another Facebook group and members of the public made comments relating to the official post.

Result: The OIA decided to take no further action on the basis that the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct by a councillor within the meaning of the Act.

 

43. Inappropriate conduct - July 22, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged a councillor was dishonest in sending an email to a community member in October 2016.

Result: The OIA decided to dismiss the complaint about the conduct of the councillor on the basis inquiries determined the sending of the email by the councillor did not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct.

 

44. Inappropriate conduct - July 22, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged a councillor was dishonest in sending correspondence to a community member in February 2009, September 2010 and August 2010.

Result: The OIA decided to dismiss the complaint about the conduct of the councillor on the basis inquiries determined the sending of two of the items of correspondence by the councillor did not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct and the councillor did not send the third item of correspondence.

 

45. Misconduct - September 10, 2019

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor did not declare a conflict of interest in relation to unspecified matters that council considered relating to Urban Utilities. It is further alleged at a council meeting the councillor declared a conflict of interest in the matter and remained in the room and voted.

Result: The OIA dismissed the complaint on the basis that the conduct complained of did not constitute inappropriate conduct or misconduct. In relation to the first allegation there was no specified decision or meeting date identified where a breach may have occurred and no details of a relationship or association that could be said to reasonably give rise to a conflict of interest. With regard to the second allegation the councillor and the non-conflicted councillors complied with the Local Government Act 2009 in disclosing and managing the interest in question.

 

46. Inappropriate conduct - March 4, 2020

Complaint: It was alleged that a councillor had used council resources during the caretaker period, primarily by issuing press releases under their name.

Result: The OIA dismissed this matter as the conduct does not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct. The media release in question was released on the council's website by the council's media team and was determined to be in line with Scenic Rim Regional Council's caretaker period protocol.

 

SOMERSET REGIONAL COUNCIL

 

There were no complaints made or finalised during the past financial year.


Virtual reality program helping Dalby students soar

Premium Content Virtual reality program helping Dalby students soar

HERE’S how a new virtual reality program is helping Dalby State High School...

Regions ask parties to safeguard millions of jobs

Premium Content Regions ask parties to safeguard millions of jobs

FIVE major industry bodies are urging political parties to prioritise regions...

Woman suffers face burns after gas explosion south of Dalby

Premium Content Woman suffers face burns after gas explosion south of Dalby

A WOMAN has been transported to Toowoomba Hospital with face injuries after a gas...