Ministerial staff to face police checks
MINISTERIAL staffers will have to undergo strict police and background checks as the Palaszczuk Government tightens its hiring processes.
The new regime is being introduced after News Queensland revealed last year that a staffer who had been convicted of possessing child exploitation material was working as an electorate officer for then Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman.
The scandal blindsided Ms Fentiman, who did not know her staffer had received a suspended sentence in 2011 after pleading guilty to three charges.
Ms Fentiman said at the time that she did not know of the staffer's criminal history.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will introduce the new laws this week - potentially tomorrow - which, if passed, mean political staffers will no longer have to give consent for criminal history checks.
The government is also preparing to push through new integrity measures for councils, including automatic suspension for councillors and mayors charged with integrity offences. These will include fraud, perjury, extortion, obtaining secret commissions, money laundering and bribery.
If passed, they will likely see Logan Mayor Luke Smith stood aside until the corruption charges he is fighting are dealt with.
The sacking powers of Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe will be expanded to allow him to sack councils if it is in the public interest.
Such a power will make it easier for Mr Hinchliffe to move to sack councillors such as at the Ipswich City Council.
The council has been issued a show-cause notice and has just days left to demonstrate why all councillors should not be sacked and administrators brought in.
Mr Hinchliffe began the process of bringing in administrators this month after Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli was charged with seven counts of fraud by the Crime and Corruption Commission.
Mr Antoniolli announced he would voluntarily stand aside as mayor as he fights the charges, but News Queensland can reveal he went into council at least twice last week, including to work on its response to the show-cause notice.
A council spokesman said Mr Antoniolli had been "in and out of council offices", but in his capacity as a councillor, not as mayor.
Mr Antoniolli does not represent his own division, however, after quitting as the division seven councillor to become mayor.
One such appearance last week was for a long-scheduled budget discussion.
"There are a number of reasons Cr Antoniolli has been required to use office space, including his old office.
He has been involved in handover discussions, heavily involved in formulating the council's show-cause submission, and other meetings with councillors and staff unrelated to his CCC allegations," the spokesman said.
No formal committee or council meetings were held, and therefore no votes taken, he added.
Council has to respond to a show cause notice after the State Government threatened to dissolve council and put in administrators.