State MP accused of using privilege against councillor
THE PRESIDENT of Queensland's peak local government body has called for a State politician to stop using parliamentary privilege to pursue a political agenda against a councillor.
However, the Labor State MP has insisted he had not misused parliamentary privilege and he would make the same comments about the bayside councillor, who was recently fined $2100 for misconduct, without its protection.
Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) president Mark Jamieson said Labor State MP for Capalaba Don Brown had repeatedly made adverse comments in state parliament directed at Redland City Councillor Paul Gleeson.
He said this was while complaints about the councillor to the Office of Independent Assessor (OIA) were being assessed.
"This is wrong and smacks of politics, when a State Member can prosecute his case with the benefit of Parliamentary Privilege, whilst an independent investigatory process is under way," Cr Jamieson said.
"Mr Brown should cease his parliamentary commentary and allow the OIA to get on and do its job."
In September Cr Paul Gleeson was fined $2100 on four misconduct matters and independent assessor Kathleen Florian noted in a statement he had a "significant disciplinary history".
Cr Jamieson said he was not defending either man over the other but it was inappropriate to use parliamentary privilege while the OIA was running an investigation.
"The LGAQ fully supports the work of the independent assessor, Ms Kathleen Florian, and does not believe it is fair for her and her office to be impacted by the actions of politicians for political purposes," he said.
Mr Brown said he found it "astonishing" that the LGAQ president was standing up for a councillor who was just fined for verbally intimidating and threatening another councillor.
"It's definitely not a misuse of parliamentary privilege - I'm happy to say everything I've said about Cr Gleeson in parliament, outside of parliament," he said.
He said his speeches in parliament on Cr Gleeson were mostly reporting back on completed complaints, during debate on reforms to the Local Government Act.
"The only other time I've spoken, I raised concerning posts made by Cr Gleeson which were then referred to the Office of the Independent Assessor by (Redland City Mayor) Karen Williams and (Federal MP) Andrew Laming," he said.
"I haven't commented any further on any matters that are under investigation by the OIA."
Mr Brown said he had made three complaints against Cr Gleeson, which had all been upheld.
Cr Paul Gleeson agreed that Mr Brown had "absolutely" misused parliamentary privilege.
"He's raised my name in parliament a number of times, in a way he wouldn't be game to outside of parliament," he said.
The OIA has recently released warnings that it would not take kindly to vexatious or politically motivated complaints.
"The OIA however, will not treat a complaint as frivolous or improper if it raises a reasonable suspicion of inappropriate conduct or misconduct," a spokesperson said.
"The Office of the Independent Assessor's media policy is that we neither confirm nor deny that a complaint has been received and or that the OIA is undertaking an investigation into any particular matter, until a matter has been resolved."