Qld parliament to probe council watchdog

Complaints about Queensland's local council watchdog are being referred to a parliamentary inquiry.
Complaints about Queensland's local council watchdog are being referred to a parliamentary inquiry.

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles will refer a number of complaints against the state's local government watchdog to a parliamentary committee for investigation.

The Office of the Independent Assessor has been under fire from politicians on both sides and the Local Government Association of Queensland in recent days over its controversial probe into Barcaldine Mayor Sean Dillon.

The OIA is investigating Mr Dillon for potential misconduct after he questioned whether his local health service would be able to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine and not "stuff it up" at a council meeting in February.

Other mayors and councillors, who have been found guilty of misconduct after being referred to the the Council Misconduct Tribunal by the OIA, have also raised concerns about the watchdog.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Mr Miles is finalising the terms of reference for a parliamentary inquiry into the complaints against the watchdog.

"The deputy premier and I feel that it is time to refer those complaints to a parliamentary committee to conduct an inquiry," she told reporters on Friday.

"They will look at the number of complaints, and the types and range of complaints that have been made."

Mr Dillon said he had "no confidence" in the Central West Hospital and Health Service rolling out the jab and he hoped they didn't "stuff it up", during a council meeting on February 17.

The OIA is investigating whether the comments could be "detrimental to public confidence" in the local vaccine drive.

Ms Palaszczuk on Thursday said the probe was "ridiculous" and Mr Dillon had done a great job promoting the rollout in Barcaldine.

"It's a bit of a storm in a teacup, I don't think what he said was unusual," she said.

"I think it's a bit ridiculous, but that's a matter for the Independent Assessor."

Local Government Association of Queensland president Mark Jamieson said councils were growing increasingly concerned with the types of investigations being launched and the time being taken to resolve complaints.

He said Mr Dillon's case was a clear example of the system "going wrong" and the parliamentary review of the OIA was needed.

"We simply cannot have a situation where elected members are scared to represent their communities in the frank and fearless way Queenslanders not only expect but deserve," Mr Jamieson said.

"The LGAQ has always supported the role of the OIA but after three years, we believe it is time for a parliamentary review to look at what is working and what is not.

"I would like to thank Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Steven Miles for taking this action and the LGAQ looks forward to discussing this further with the Deputy Premier next week."

Australian Associated Press