POLICY STATEMENT NO. 6

24/03/2020

Executive summary

  • Complete review of Local laws
  • Withdraw Verge Policy for further consultation
  • Redraft Compliance & Enforcement policy
  • Redraft operating manuals for Compliance & Enforcement Policy
  • Introduce training for conflict resolution procedures
  • Refuse anonymous complaints
  • Employ consultative systems & formal hearings as last resort
  • NO self reviews OR conflicted involvement in process

Over time Council has allowed a system of falsity to permeate dealings of dispute within the community.

At the core of this has been a shift from the usual (and as expected BY the community) compliance checking and consultation within the community, to one of policing and in many cases doing that policing merely for the sake of pushing people about unnecessarily.

Or worse, facilitating malicious and mischievous "complaints" from resentful or nasty neighbours.

Ruling out anonymous complaints is the first step. Then having properly trained front line staff in conflict negotiation and resolution at first instance. If problems arise then Council staff first discuss with each affected party separately (but with open disclosures to both sides) and then set up a mandated informal meeting. This process is for early resolution, and for understanding what is really at issue between the parties.

The next step is to enforce that should matters NOT be resolved then action are moved on the the QCAT structures for informal initial hearings with a JP/community adjudicator at first instance. IF not resolved then on to the formal QCAT process from there.

What we have seen is systematic anti-community action by Council to just bully residents into submission, and to specifically choose targets in order that they will be more newsworthy and thus frighten the residents into compliance.

BUT the Local Laws Policies, and in particular the local Law that governs Council Officer Conduct (Compliance & Enforcement Policy) is deeply flawed. Such laws as it being unlawful to have material likely to harbour reptiles. A Local law voted in support of by Chris Thompson as it happens, which highlights just how important it is to have Councillors who actually have an idea of policy and its effects rather than just indifferent to consequences. Home based business being under attack for having two sign written vehicles parked at home overnight IF you happen to have your office at home....

But the real key is removing the aggressive and anti-community attitude that permeated Council. The first step was removing ex CEO Whittaker which I am proud to say has already been achieved! The next is to have Council staff focus more properly on REAL issues not manufactured disputes. A further step is to prohibit the practice of Council staff effectively reviewing their own conduct. Reviews MUST be arms length rather than conflicted at the outset.