The mayor of Australia’s sixth largest council will most likely be stood down as soon as changes to ministerial powers pass through Queensland’s Parliament, government sources have told the ABC.
Under the changes, mayors and councillors charged with serious integrity offences would be automatically suspended with pay.
In March, Logan Mayor Luke Smith, was charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) with official corruption, two counts of perjury, and failing to correct his register of interests.
Under Queensland law, official corruption and perjury are indictable offences.
Cr Smith was charged after a lengthy investigation by the CCC as part of its Operation Belcarra, which probed the conduct of candidates in four south-east Queensland councils during the 2016 local government elections.
The mayor has vowed to vigorously defend the charges.
Under the changes to go before Parliament this week, the local government minister will be able to dismiss or suspend a council, councillor or mayor in the public interest.
Mayors or councillors charged with a serious integrity offence that attracts a significant jail term will be automatically suspended.
The suspension will be lifted if the person is found not guilty or the charges are dropped.
Speaking last week at a Local Government Association of Queensland conference, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the current laws need to be changed.
“Frankly it’s become apparent that there are some significant shortcomings in the current legislation,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“Shortcomings that have limited the state’s ability to deal with individuals in local government that have let the rest of you down.”
Government sources have told the ABC that once the changes pass the Parliament and come into force, the Logan Mayor will most likely be suspended.
This month, Ipswich mayor Andrew Antoniolli stood down after he was charged by the CCC with seven counts of fraud.
His predecessor, Paul Pisasale, was also charged with a range of offences including corruption.
In total, the CCC has made 13 arrests during its investigation of Ipswich City Council.
Mr Hinchliffe has responded by giving Ipswich councillors 21 days to show cause as to why they should not be dismissed.
He has flagged using the new powers on the council when they pass the Parliament.