Watchdog rules on several councillor complaints this year

SEVERAL complaints have been recorded on Ipswich City Council's councillor conduct register this year, with all of them either dismissed or dealt with via a warning.

The register, which records finalised matters, does not name which councillors the complaints are regarding.

A complaint dated April 19 alleged that a councillor had discussed confidential information relating to another councillor.

The Office of the Independent Assessor decided to take no further action as the conduct did not "raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct."

Another complaint dated April 18 alleged that a councillor has been using his personal social media account as his councillor account with a personal email address that may contravene the Code of Conduct for councillors in Queensland.

The OIA dismissed the complaint but the councillor was reminded that using a private email address may lead to a breach of that code.

A trio of complaints related to the election trail.

One, dated March 30, alleged a candidate paid for a court hearing transcript from 2010 of another mayoral candidate and was going to use the transcript in a "whispering campaign" against their opponent.

It was dismissed by the OIA as candidates are outside its jurisdiction.

An allegation dated March 13, about an abusive text message sent by a candidate to another person because of comments they made on Facebook supporting a political opponent, was dismissed for the same reason.

Another complaint alleged a former councillor was aware of illegal donations and was involved in the arrangement of a press release regarding these donations.

This was dismissed on March 19 as the "complaint and document provided in support did not raise a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct."

A complaint dated January 7 alleged a council officer had abused his position by sending the complainant a threatening letter from the council in relation to a local law.

It was dismissed by the OIA as council officers do not fall under its jurisdiction.

The OIA ruled on six complaints relating to Ipswich last year, according to the register.

One complaint dated 22 October alleged a councillor engaged the services of a saddle maker and harness repairer to install a boot cover and curtains on the Cobb & Co Coach for $6,200.

It was alleged that a councillor did not follow the proper procurement process and may have favoured someone known to him, and then went onto instruct council employees to utilise the saddle maker and harness repairer without following a proper procedure.

The OIA took no further action on the basis taking further action would be "an

unjustifiable use of resources."

"Acting on advice from the councillor's legal representative, it was determined that it is no longer in the public interest to progress a disciplinary investigation when a person is no longer a councillor, or will not be a councillor in the future," the register reads.

Another complaint from last year, dated 15 August, alleged a senior council officer may have "interfered in processes" leading up to the 2020 local government election.

The complaint was dismissed as council officers do not fall under the OIA's jurisdiction.

Other older complaints were dismissed as it was not seen as an appropriate use of resources to investigate matters against people who were no longer in office.

In accordance with the Local Government Act 2009, the council is required to keep a register of complaints made against councillors and the outcome of these complaints.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor