CCC public report on transparency and accountability in local government tabled in Parliament - 11.12.2015
A Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) report titled Transparency and accountability in local government was tabled in State Parliament today.
The CCC announced in May 2015 it would prepare a public report to examine options for legislative reform to improve transparency in the local government sector following a 10-month criminal investigation into allegations against the Ipswich Mayor. The investigation found no conduct that warranted criminal prosecution.
The report tabled in State Parliament today contains six recommendations aimed at improving the compliance and reporting framework for local government officials, especially in the treatment of campaign funds or other gifts and benefits.
CCC Chairman, Alan MacSporran QC, said the legislative framework for local governments could be improved to assist elected officials with their reporting obligations while the introduction of more contemporaneous reporting would result in greater transparency and public confidence.
“The CCC’s investigation and subsequent analysis of the legislative framework identified a number of areas that could be improved, particularly around how campaign funds and other gifts or benefits are received and then reported on,” Mr MacSporran said.
“For example, there are differences between the disclosure requirements outlined in the Local Government Act 2009 and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011. There is also no requirement to report on how donations are spent.
“The current framework also sets out that campaign donations are not required to be disclosed until 15 weeks after polling day. There is no requirement to disclose donations on or before polling day which in the CCC’s view hampers voters’ ability to make informed decisions on election day.”
The CCC also found that the use of official titles such as ‘Mayor’ in the name of some incorporated associations and use of council logos reasonably conveyed to the public such entities were under the control of the Council, when in fact they were separate legal entities and therefore not subject to the same level of oversight.
“The CCC recommends the use of official titles in the name of such entities should not be allowed to continue unless those entities are subject to the same oversight as other public sector agencies, including the oversight of the Queensland Audit Office.”
The six recommendations include:
- That associations incorporated or unincorporated not be permitted to use any official title (such as Mayor) in the name unless it is a controlled entity and therefore subject to auditing by the Queensland Audit Office.
- That the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 be amended to make it clear that incorporated associations cannot be used to receive or hold electoral campaign funds which are intended to be applied for a member’s benefit, either directly or indirectly.
- That the Government consider amendment to disclosure time frames to make the disclosure of donations more contemporaneous with the receipt of the donation by the candidate and others required to make a disclosure.
- That the Government consider amendment to disclosure requirements in the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 and the Local Government Act 2009 to align the threshold obligations for reporting.
- That the Government expand the regulation of donations to include the expenditure of donations and a requirement to account for unspent donations by either only using the funds for campaign purposes or transferring them to a registered charity.
- That the Government strengthen the obligation upon councillors, chief executive officers and senior executive employees (relevant persons) to declare funds, gifts or benefits provided to another entity which could be perceived to provide the relevant person with a benefit.
A copy of the report is available at: http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/publications
Press conference details:
Where: CCC Headquarters - Level 2, North Tower Green Square, 515 St Pauls Terrace, Fortitude Valley.
When: 1.45pm. Media are asked to arrive earlier (1.30pm) to ensure appropriate time for signing-in procedures.
Who: CCC Chairman Alan MacSporran QC and CCC Director, Paxton Booth
What: Discussion on the recommendations contained in the report