QLD_CP_NEWS_MAYOR_5JUN18
QLD_CP_NEWS_MAYOR_5JUN18

Local government CEO questions timing of CCC probe

A high-ranking local government official has questioned a Crime and Corruption Commission probe into reporting corruption at councils.

The CCC is surveying council employees, including at Townsville City Council, to understand the barriers to reporting corruption.

But the CEO of the Local Government Association Greg Hallam called the timing of the survey "unprecedented" and questioned the CCC's priorities.

CCC investigations have identified a number of significant and systematic corruption risks in recent years, with the spotlight on local government following the Belcarra reforms passing in 2018.

A CCC spokesman said the probe was to improve the commissions' understandings of attitudes, barriers and motivators to reporting and preventing corruption and had been sent to employees of all 77 Queensland councils.

"The results of the survey will assist the CCC to obtain a greater understanding of corruption risks, and therefore enable the CCC to work with this sector to create more targeted prevention and intervention strategies to reduce corruption for the benefit of the Queensland community," the spokesman said.

The CCC said participation in the survey was voluntary and all responses would remain private and confidential with no identifying features of staff members collected.

The spokesman added some conduct the CCC had identified in the past had left to serious criminal charges against individuals connected to local governments, with some resulting in time behind bars.

Former Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli (centre) was sentenced to six months prison last year after he was found guilty of 12 fraud charges and one charge of attempted fraud following a corruption probe. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Former Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli (centre) was sentenced to six months prison last year after he was found guilty of 12 fraud charges and one charge of attempted fraud following a corruption probe. (AAP Image/Darren England)

"The survey itself has preventive benefits because it will assist employees in the local government sector to improve their understanding of corruption risks and the associated reporting obligations," he said.

Mr Hallam said the 40,000-strong workforce in Queensland councils were on the front line, working overtime to keep communities safe, delivering essential public services and keeping economies turning.

"We would welcome understanding the value of such a survey in this environment given all that has been done and so early in the term," Mr Hallam said.

"As a sector we have worked hard with the State Government to move forward a strong integrity agenda and are focused on delivering what really matters to our communities - especially during these times when our local communities and businesses are hurting."

But Mr Hallam said the LGAQ felt the survey was "unprecedented in its timing".

"As a sector we would consider there would be greater areas of priority for such a body," he said.

The Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs, the Office of independent Assessor, the Queensland Ombudsman and the Queensland Audit Office were involved in the survey.

Originally published as Official questions timing of council corruption probe


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