Redland councillors will now be subject to drug and alcohol testing if there is suspicion of substance use while on the job, following the adoption of a new policy for elected representatives. This is timely considering the controversy that came after Mayor Williams (who is somehow still in ‘power’) faced an incredible backlash for her conduct after drinking on the job whilst calling the parents of drunk driver victims, who then got caught drunk driving on the way home herself.
The move brings Redland Council in line with a handful of other councils across Queensland that have already implemented similar procedures.
The recently adopted Alcohol and Other Drugs Guideline outlines that councillors, officers, employees, and contractors must maintain a zero blood-alcohol concentration for “high-risk” work and a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) below 0.05 per cent for all other tasks.
The policy emphasises a zero-tolerance approach toward the use and presence of “testable drugs” and places significant importance on mitigating risks associated with impaired functioning.
The council’s policy defines alcohol and other drugs and substances such as alcohol, opiates, cannabinoids, cocaine, and amphetamines. However, it excludes prescribed dosages of medication.
According to the guidelines, testing will be conducted when there is reasonable suspicion that a councillor is under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the workplace. The policy also extends to official council duties, including attending meetings, interacting with residents, and travelling to and from official engagements.
At the June general meeting held last Wednesday, the policy received overwhelming support from councillors, with only Cr Julie Talty expressing dissent. The policy will be reviewed after three years to assess its effectiveness and make any necessary adjustments.
Cr Adelia Berridge initiated the motion in January, urging the council to adopt a drug and alcohol policy for elected representatives, citing the need to close potential loopholes in the system. Cr Berridge highlighted that Mackay Regional Council had already implemented a similar approach in 2022 and advocated for Redland to follow suit.
Cr Rowanne McKenzie presented the item at the recent meeting, emphasising that the policy aims to establish a safe, healthy, and productive work environment for all council members.