Queensland council pushes for drug and alcohol testing of elected officials
Councillors call for more accountability.
MACKAY TESTING CALLS
Two northern Queensland councillors say elected representatives should be required to undergo regular drug and alcohol testing and face OIA scrutiny if found in breach of rules.
Fran Mann and Martin Bella have drafted a drug and alcohol policy which they intend to present at a future ordinary meeting of Mackay Regional Council.
Cr Mann said she and Bella had been discussing a drug and alcohol policy over many years and expected that it would be well received among councillors.
“It always came back to councillors not being classed as staff,” she said.
“We are classed as contractors to council, therefore our staff drug and alcohol policy doesn’t include councillors.”
She noted that over the years, many councillors have said they would be happy to participate in testing.
“Largely, what we’re proposing is if you feel that someone is affected by drugs or alcohol, then you let the CEO know and they arrange testing from there.”
Cr Bella hoped other Queensland councils would adopt the policy, saying councillor behaviour should be “impeccable” when representing the community.
“If our staff have to be subjected to this sort of testing, why shouldn’t we?”
Punishments suggested for a failed test include a complaint being lodged with the Office of the Independent Assessor.
Cr Mann said they worked in consultation with Mackay council’s executive officer and the policy would tie in with the Queensland councillor code of conduct.
Only a small number of Queensland councils have implemented drug and alcohol policies that relate to staff as well as elected officials.
They include Ipswich, Balonne and Rockhampton.
The calls come after a string of bad headlines in recent years involving Queensland councillors.
The move to bring a policy before the chamber comes after Redlands Mayor Karen Williams crashed a council-owned Lexus into trees earlier this month while more than triple the legal limit.
She was met with scrutiny and protests after attending her first council meeting since pleading guilty to drink driving a few weeks ago, continuing her position.
This is not an isolated incident either, with more councils making the news in Queensland.
Former Ipswich Mayor, Paul Pisasale, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years imprisonment in 2020 – with a non-parole period of 27 months – for 30+ offences stemming from his time in office.
These include fraud, official corruption, perjury, unlawful drug possession and sexual assault.
Pisasale, 69, was already in prison for extortion after posing as a private investigator.
The CCC investigation in 2018 also led to the Logan City Council being sacked and seven councillors and former Mayor Luke Smith facing fraud charges.
The fraud charges against the former councillors have since been dropped after a two year investigation.
They are expected to all return to office soon.
The Mackay councillors call this proposal a “common sense move” after these recent headlines.
“People see us as community leaders and I believe that our ratepayers have a right to expect that we will conduct ourselves in the best possible way at all times,” Cr Bella added.
Now, normally I would be against drug and alcohol testing, as I am more of a libertarian in this respect.
However, at the same time, if I was a part of a national company with branches, and multiple branches were regularly on the news for drug possession and drink driving, I would also not be surprised to hear my company announce that testing would be coming into effect.
In addition, if they have a problem with this, politicians are actually the ones that can change the laws surrounding drugs to make it more accessible for Australians.
Did you notice how quickly Canberra revised their drug laws a few years ago when calls emerged for Parliament to be drug and alcohol tested?
Perhaps politicians should be subjected to the very rules they enforce on society and many workplaces, and in doing so, we might even get real legislative change as a result.
Not because they care about the people, but because they always look to protect themselves.
We shall see how this Mackay vote goes, and the result should tell you everything you need to know.
For more TOTT News, follow us:
Facebook — Facebook.com/TOTTNews
YouTube — YouTube.com/TOTTNews
Instagram — Instagram.com/TOTTNews
Twitter — Twitter.com/EthanTOTT
Bitchute — Bitchute.com/TOTTNews
Gab — Gab.com/TOTTNews