Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Mackay Council adopts drug and alcohol policy

Mackay Regional Council has adopted a Drug and Alcohol Policy for councillors, with councillors voting unanimously in favour of the policy at yesterday’s meeting.

It’s understood the policy rules that the Mayor and elected councillors be prohibited from conducting Council business while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Under the new policy, if a Councillor is found to be impaired by drugs or alcohol while on Council business, the matter will be reported to Queensland’s Office of the Independent Assessor.

Deputy Mayor, Karen May.

Deputy Mayor, Karen May, described the adoption of the policy as “significant” following the vote.

“As we know, there’s always a grey area for the Council. We are always on duty 24/7 and there was a couple of councillors who wanted clarity around what that looks like within the bounds of the policy,” said Cr May.

‘But I think the overwhelming view of the Council – and it was unanimous – that we’re very supportive of the policy, very keen to be held to the same account as our Council staff, other business and industry within our region that have drug and alcohol policies.”

Staff address yesterday’s meeting.

The policy, developed by Councillors Fran Mann and Martin Bella in consultation with Council staff, brings Mackay Regional Council staff into line with drug and alcohol rules for non-elected Council staff.

“It’s shocking to say, but circumstances have shown me it’s required and I make no bones about that,” Cr Bella told the ABC.

“We should be at the top of our game when we’re considering things that affect people’s lives.”

In introducing the policy, Mackay joins a small number of Queensland councils including Rockhampton, Ipswich and Balonne, whose staff and Councillors are subject to similar drug and alcohol guidelines.

“The code of conduct says we must ensure our behaviour, or capacity to perform responsibilities as a councillor, isn’t impaired by the use of substances that may put them or others at risk,” Cr Mann told the ABC.

“Our policy has been specific on what your alcohol level should be when you’re performing your duty and that we’d like to introduce three random drug and alcohol tests a year for councillors.”

The policy will not mean councillors are banned from drinking alcohol at a Council function, however they must remain under a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%.

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