In August 2017, Ipswich City Council was dismissed after two consecutive mayors and chief executives, as well as other staff and contractors, were charged with corruption offences. Now Logan is the second council sacking in Queensland, linked to fraud and corruption charges. See quoted article from the Australian, 3 May 2019 below.
In an ironic twist, the advocacy group for Queensland councils, the Local Government Association of Queensland, thinks not, evident in the quote from today’s Weekend Australian:
The Local Government Association of Queensland has slammed the government’s decision, saying the councillors charged have been denied natural justice. “It would appear the move against the council at this time was driven by political expediency rather than good governance,” chief executive Greg Hallam said in a statement.(The Weekend Australian, 5 May 2019)
Is Fraud and Corruption the new black in Queensland council norms?
Logan City loses its council to corruption :
Quoted from the Australian (3 May 2019), by Charlie Peel:
The entire Logan City Council has been sacked and replaced by an administrator after corruption and fraud claims led to the suspension of the mayor and eight councillors.
Only four councillors remained after seven were charged with fraud by the corruption watchdog last week — triggering automatic suspensions — leaving Queensland’s Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe with “no other choice”.
Retired senior public servant Tamara O’Shea has been appointed as interim administrator of the council until the March 2020 local government elections.
“This recommendation under the Local Government Act will be made out of necessity to ensure the residents of Logan have a functioning council,” Mr Hinchliffe said. “This action does not interfere with the relevant judicial proceedings.
“I wish to be very clear: the dismissal of the council is being taken because I have no other choice at this point in time under the Local Government Act and I will not be making any specific comment in relation to the current charges involving the councillors.”
Councillors Russell Lutton, Steve Swenson, Cherie Dalley, Laurie Smith, Phil Pidgeon, Jennie Breene and Trevina Schwarz were charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission last week with dishonestly causing a detriment to the council’s CEO, Sharon Kelsey, whom they voted to sack in February last year, claiming she was incapable of performing the duties of her job. Mayor Luke Smith, who was already suspended and facing corruption charges, was further charged for interfering with Ms Kelsey’s recruitment and launching a fake probationary process.
Councillor Stacey McIntosh was also suspended, facing allegations of $184,000 fraud against a former employer before she was elected to the council in 2016.
The council required at least seven councillors to have a quorum and would have been unable to perform its responsibilities with only four councillors, including passing a budget, appointing an acting mayor or passing a resolution to delegate authority.
Logan is the second council to be sacked by Mr Hinchliffe since amendments to the act were introduced last year to give the minister the power to sack a council. Ipswich City Council was dismissed in August after two consecutive mayors and chief executives, as well as other staff and contractors, were charged with corruption offences.
The four Logan councillors not facing criminal charges will be offered paid roles on an Interim Management Committee — an offer that was not extended to the Ipswich councillors.
“Unlike at Ipswich City Council, where councillors who were not charged with offences seemingly looked the other way when faced with questionable practices, these four councillors at Logan actively called out the poor governance and integrity practices of the now suspended mayor and councillors,” Mr Hinchliffe said(The Australian, 3 May 2019)