The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has finalised its investigation into complaints relating to Moreton Bay Regional Council’s (MBRC) Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism Ltd (MBRIT).
The CCC commenced a corruption investigation in August 2018 into allegations relating to the renewal of a SLA between MBRC and MBRIT, and whether several councillors, including the Mayor, did not disclose and manage conflicts of interests associated with MBRIT. The CCC’s investigation did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal prosecution of any councillor or council staff member. On that basis, the CCC will not investigate these matters further.
The investigation found councillors complied with their obligations under section 175E of the Local Government Act 2009 to declare perceived and actual conflicts of interest, and the requirement to deal with these appropriately. The investigation also identified some councillors and council staff were either unaware or uncertain about the SLA being established via a Beneficial Enterprise Arrangement which is allowable under Part 2, Division 1, of the Local Government Act 2009. The CCC’s investigation found the confusion and lack of information about the process to renew the SLA created a level of uncertainty and anxiety which contributed to concerns about the process.
Whilst no conduct identified during the investigation reached a criminal threshold, the CCC did identify a practice where on occasions informal meetings of elected officials occurred in private prior to council meetings. The CCC understands discussions or decisions at these meetings were not minuted or recorded. To address corruption risks, the CCC has recommended the MBRC:
- Discontinue the practice of having private meetings before council meetings because it lacks transparency and has the potential to influence council decision-making
- Provide additional training to councillors and senior staff in the appropriate management and declaration of conflicts of interests, particularly when there is an insufficient number of councillors to reach a quorum on a matter before council
- Distribute an internal communique to councillors and staff when entering into a Beneficial Enterprise Agreement to explain the process and to improve transparency
The CCC will not be commenting further while other matters relating to Moreton Bay Regional Council are before the courts.
The CCC is an independent agency combating major crime and reducing corruption for the benefit of the Queensland community.