Local complaints 'as important' as Ipswich
WHY was the Fraser Coast council targeted by the State Government when other major councils were entrenched in seemingly more serious turmoil?
That's the question hanging over the heads of Queensland Labor ministers as councils across the state come under the microscope.
This week there were allegations the State Government received 326 complaints about allegations of corruption at Ipswich City Council while considering whether to sack then Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft over alleged misconduct.
But Deputy Premier Jackie Trad rebuffed the rumours, saying there were only three complaints over 326 pages to the Right to Information request.
"In relation to these three complaints, the material provided had also been provided to the Crime and Corruption Commission,” Ms Trad said yesterday.
"The CCC had access to all of the material for assessment and investigation, if warranted.”
Since June last year, 15 people have been charged in relation to the CCC's probe into Ipswich council, including former long-standing mayor Paul Pisasale who will defend the charges.
The council was dissolved earlier this month after the city's new mayor Andrew Antoniolli was charged with fraud.
Mr Loft's was sacked for repeated breaches of Local Government rules. He is charged with misconduct in a public office and computer hacking.
Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders defended his government's former focus on the Fraser Coast council, at a time when the State Government was already aware of the turmoil beginning to unfold at Ipswich, saying issues here were "just as important” as any other council's.
"Any complaint is a serious complaint, and I think it's time some of our councillors lifted their act,” Mr Saunders said.
"I'm a ratepayer on the Fraser Coast, so of course I'd be concerned about the behaviour of this council.”
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the changes to local government laws would help deal with councillors across the state that were "not living up to their community's expectations.”