Proctor : July 2019
INSIDE THE OFFICE OF THE INDEPENDENT ASSESSOR What lawyers need to know ABOUT AN OIA ASSESSMENT AND REFERRAL OF A COMPLAINT TO THE COUNCILLOR CONDUCT TRIBUNAL Councillor receives an OIA letter outlining complaint allegation • The letter will explain how the matter would, or could, proceed from this point. • This communication does not raise any requirement to engage in a natural justice process. A brief of evidence has not yet been compiled; it is an information gathering stage. Options: Fast track or OIA investigation • The councillor may agree with the allegation as alleged and elect to fast track the matter. Refer to uncontested process on OIA website. • If the councillor disputes the allegation, OIA will continue investigating. Investigation • At the conclusion of the investigation, if the OIA has reasonable satisfaction that the councillor has engaged in misconduct, the OIA sends notice to the councillor that it intends to refer the matter to the Councilor Conduct Tribunal (CCT). Section 150AA Notice to councillor “The independent assessor has the power to investigate and determine genuine complaints more effectively and effi ciently while being able to quickly dismiss vexatious complaints,’’ Mr Hinchliffe said. Ms Florian said the OIA’s job is to hold councillors who would commit misconduct to account, for the benefi t of the community and the benefi t of all councillors who are trying to do the right thing. “It will be my priority to resolve the transition matters and ensure that the councillor conduct system is effective, timely and balanced,” Ms Florian said. “With new powers to address early complaints that are vexatious, frivolous or not in good faith, the focus of the OIA will be on complaints of more serious allegations of misconduct.” The OIA works closely with the Councillor Complaints Tribunal and the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs to provide councillors with advice, training and information. • The councillor will receive a section 150AA Notice together with a draft Statement of Facts which sets out in detail the allegation against the councillor and the evidence supporting it. • This is the statutory natural justice process that precedes a decision by the Independent Assessor to refer the matter to the CCT. Councillor responds • The section 150AA Notice provides an opportunity for the councillor to respond. The councillor may provide a statement or information about the conduct and why the Independent Assessor should not make the decision to refer the matter to the CCT to be dealt with. • If the councillor agrees with the allegation/s, the councillor may also amend, as appropriate, the draft statement of facts with a view to an agreed statement of facts being submitted to the Tribunal. • The OIA will then consider the response (if any) before making a determination to refer the conduct to the CCT. Application to Councillor Conduct Tribunal • Upon considering the councillor’s response, if any, the IA may refer the application to the CCT. The CCT will respond with a date for the hearing. Upon receipt of these details, the OIA will provide a copy of the Application including the date and time of the hearing. At this time, the councillor (or their legal representative) will be provided with a full brief of evidence.