Adani is planning to pay local government workers assessing aspects of its coal mine plans.

The Indian mining giant will pay up to $1.15 million in wages, housing and vehicle costs for four Isaac Regional Council employees tasked with assessing projects related to the proposed Carmichael mega-mine.

The council says the staff are not controlled by Adani.

The chief of anti-corruption think tank Transparency International, Serena Lillywhite, says the deal raises “real questions around the perception or the potential for a conflict of interest, and for undue industry influence, and certainly questions around the independence of decisions being made by the council”.

“At best there is a perception that the company is just too close to the [local] government with regard to decisions being made.

“When you have a situation whereby people who are employed by the council but are in fact being paid for by Adani to undertake responsibilities and tasks — such as legal support and compliance with contractual arrangements, engineering support to check whether or not there is compliance with standards regarding engineering or environmental aspects — it does create some real concerns.

“You can understand how at best there would be a perception that there is not an arm's-length arrangement between the council and the company,” she told the ABC.

Isaac Mayor Anne Baker says the arrangement “didn't raise any flags” when it was raised last year.

“This whole arrangement and process is about protecting our ratepayers and at no stage should our ratepayers be contributing financially to any portion or part of a multinational project.

“To be clear, these people are employees of Isaac Regional Council — they are not employees of any company external to council.

“At no point do I believe that we thought we had a conflict.”

Ms Lillywhite says it is hard to tell whether arrangement will be impacted by undue influence.

“When you have a situation where the council is paying the salaries and related costs of doing the inspections that are required, when the council pays the salaries but then Adani reimburses the council for all those costs, it raises some pretty serious concerns as to whether or not that is independent,” she said.