Queensland Law Society

Current Dissolution of Ipswich City Council draft Bill fundamentally flawed

Date 30 Jul 2018
Contact Media Manager Tony Keim
Phone 0488 433 884
Email media@qls.com.au

The Queensland Government’s proposed Dissolution of Ipswich City Council would deny the electorate democratically appointed local representatives and improperly impugn the legal rights of councillors not facing any or not yet convicted of criminal charges or disciplinary offences, according to Queensland’s peak legal body.
Queensland Law Society President Ken Taylor today (MON 30 JUL) commended the Government for allowing consultation on the draft Bill prior to its introduction into Parliament.
“However, we hold a number of concerns about the legislation and its timing," Mr Taylor said.
QLS, in its submission on the draft bill, says in its current form it allowed for dissolution of the Ipswich City Council (ICC) and ended the term of ICC councillors in a manner that circumvents the proper, established remedial processes under the Local Government Act 2009 (LGA) and thereby abrogated the rights and liberties of individuals.
“The dissolution of ICC has the effect of breaching the principle of the presumption of innocence, by dismissing councillors who have been charged but not convicted, or who are not the subject of any charges or public allegations of wrongdoing, without even the benefit of an administrative Ministerial investigative process making adverse findings against these councillors," the submission says.

“The Minister already has significant powers which enable the Minister to dissolve the local government if the Minister reasonably believes it is in the public interest that every councillor be suspended or dismissed.
“If the Minister “reasonably believes” that the public interest requires ICC be dissolved, then there is no need for this specific instance legislation.

“If the Minister does not have sufficient evidence to reasonably form the view that it is in the public interest to dissolve ICC, then we submit that in this specific instance legislation is particularly egregious.

“The draft Bill excludes judicial review and appeal which is contrary to fundamental legislative principles and the recommendations of the Fitzgerald Inquiry."

Mr Taylor was also critical the draft Bill specified that no election would be held until the next quadrennial Council elections in 2020.
“This has the effect of denying the electorate democratically elected representatives for a significant period of time," he said.
“This is also inconsistent with the approach outlined in the LGA which indicates that when a council is dissolved under the LGA process, it is Parliament’s intention that a fresh election be held as soon as practicable."

For more information please contact Media Manager Tony Keim on 0488 433 884 or media@qls.com.au