Candidates warned off CCC complaints for political gain

CANDIDATES in local government elections are being urged to run honest campaigns and avoid making baseless complaints to the Crime and Corruption Commission for political gain.

As the nomination period for 2016 local government elections commences, the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) have today launched an education campaign encouraging candidates to play fair in the 2016 local government election. 

CCC Chairman Alan MacSporran QC said while most candidates ran honest campaigns, there were often spikes in the number of complaints to the CCC during local government elections.

"Regrettably our experience has shown that during election campaigns, some candidates have been known to make allegations to the CCC in the hope of gaining some advantage over rival candidates," Mr MacSporran said.

"Our data indicates that in the weeks prior to and during the 2008 and 2012 local government elections, there was a rise in the number of complaints we received about the local government sector when compared to the yearly average."

He warned that making baseless complaints to the CCC, and then publicising the fact a complaint has been made, often damages the reputation of both the person subject to the complaint the person making the complaint.

LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam agreed that election candidates who made vexatious claims against their opponents simply in order to gain a political advantage risked seeing their campaigns seriously backfire.

"Candidates who act in such a way risk damaging the integrity and image of local government as the level of public administration that is closest to the needs and aspirations of the community,'' Mr Hallam said.

"The community will respect honest and professional behaviour from all election candidates. 

"While political campaigns in Australia are always robust, voters have no tolerance for dishonesty.''

It is a criminal offence to knowingly make a complaint that is not true.

The education campaign aims to help candidates be transparent and protect the reputations of themselves and others by stopping false or frivolous complaints being made to the CCC. 

"The CCC is not discouraging people from making genuine complaints. We will treat all genuine complaints confidentially and assess them independently and with complete objectivity," Mr MacSporran said.

"Our advice is simple, be honest and don't risk your own campaign by making false complaints. Don't promise special favours in return for election donations or support. Tell the community who is supporting you and declare all gifts and donations.

"Finally, if you do have genuine concerns, we want you to bring them to the CCC confidentially."

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