Local governments are responsible for the good governance of local and regional communities. In performing this role, local governments execute a range of functions, including planning and monitoring, service delivery, and lawmaking and enforcement.
They also play an important advocacy role, representing the interests of their community in negotiations with state and federal governments and the non-government sector. Those charged with this responsibility, elected mayors and councillors, must comply with relevant laws and adhere to the key principles of good government — equity, transparency, integrity and accountability — to secure the confidence of the communities they serve. Communities are rightly outraged when the behaviour of their elected representatives falls below these basic standards.
Following the Queensland local government elections on 19 March 2016, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) received numerous complaints about the conduct of candidates for several councils, including Gold Coast, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Logan. Consistent with the CCC’s responsibilities to investigate corruption, and prevent corruption and promote integrity, the CCC commenced Operation Belcarra to:
- determine whether candidates committed offences under the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 that could constitute corrupt conduct
- examine practices that may give rise to actual or perceived corruption, or otherwise undermine public confidence in the integrity of local government, with a view to identifying strategies or reforms to help prevent or decrease corruption risks and increase public confidence.
This report is divided into three parts.
- Part 1 provides background to Operation Belcarra, outlines the nature of local government in Queensland, describes key legislative obligations on candidates and others at local government elections, and notes a few key facts about the 2016 elections.
- Part 2 describes the investigation outcomes for the allegations canvassed at the public hearing, grouped by local government.
- Part 3 discusses six key issues identified by the CCC as arising from the 2016 elections that can adversely affect equity, transparency, integrity and accountability in council elections and decision-making.