Qld minister admits mayoral stuff-up

Tracey Ferrier
Local government minister Stirling Hinchliffe has suspended five officials under investigation

Queensland's local government minister has been left red-faced after suspending four mayors and a councillor before actually having the power to.

Stirling Hinchliffe has taken responsibility for the bungle, which has seen him lampooned by suspended Logan mayor Luke Smith who has described the whole episode a "debacle".

Mr Hinchliffe announced on Monday the suspension of Mr Smith and Logan councillor Stacey McIntosh, Doomadgee Mayor Edric Walden, Hope Vale Mayor Greg McLean and Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli, who had already stood aside.

Each has been charged with an offence that attracts automatic suspension under laws giving Mr Hinchliffe authority to sack or suspend local government officials accused of integrity and corruption crimes.

But Governor Paul de Jersey was yet to sign the government's reforms into law, leaving the clerk of parliament scrambling to get a late-night signature to make it official.

Mr Hinchliffe apologised and admitted he was embarrassed by the "miscommunication" but stressed there was no legal difference to what happened.

"There's an embarrassing difference in terms of me having announced something before it actually occurred," he told reporters in Mackay.

The minister denied failing to inform mayors of their suspensions, with Mr Smith claiming he found out on Twitter.

"I feel like I've been robbed of an opportunity to serve the people of Logan," he said during an angry media conference, also labelling the new laws as ludicrous.

Mr Smith intends fighting corruption and perjury charges and says there's been a "very well-thought through political campaign to remove me from office".

He insists he doesn't know what his suspension means, including if he's allowed inside council buildings, and fears the new bills will see local government "grind to a halt".

The remarks drew support from Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate who said the suspensions "undermine democracy".

"Sixty-five per cent of people in Logan voted Luke to be mayor," he said. "He should still be mayor there until he's proven guilty."

All five councillors will remain on full pay while corruption and misconduct allegations against them are dealt with, including Mr Smith who receives a salary of almost $224,000 and Mr Antoniolli who earns $200,000 a year.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the saga was more proof the Labor government was incompetent.

"(They're) all too busy getting selfies up in Mackay when they should have actually been just doing their job," she told reporters.

Meanwhile elected Ipswich council officials have until Thursday to show cause why they should not be sacked, but Mr Hinchliffe can act sooner now the laws have taken effect.