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A new campaign low

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday, 18 August 2017.

The Ipswich mayoral by-election to be conducted tomorrow has heralded the apogee of dirty gutter level campaigning. How low can it go?

Clearly, there were genuine issues raised regarding the Crime and Corruption Commission’ ongoing inquiries into the activities of the former mayor. But then we saw the gutless sprays under parliamentary privilege by the Member for Cairns, Rob Pyne. His behaviour damages sitting councillors and has been of no help to anyone interested in a fair by-election campaign.

As Fraser Coast Council chief executive Ken Diehm told the media this week, Pyne seems to have no understanding or appreciation of the impact his antics are having on the wellbeing of local government staff. Some of his claims have been quite ridiculous _ laughable even _ and were quickly proven to be so. But the social media elements of this campaign were simply appalling. Claims went from the preposterous to the bizarre. A pat on the back to the Queensland Times newspaper for playing it straight and sticking to genuine policy debate during the campaign. My fervent hope is the good people of Ipswich reward positivity and policy over the politics of personal enmity and mud-slinging.

It's for these reasons the LGAQ Policy Executive will next week consider the establishment of an Independent Local Government Electoral Monitor for the next council elections due in March 2020. This will be the culmination of six months research by an external consultant on global best practices, legal issues, possible structures, charters and funding. That research involved direct discussions with the department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, the Electoral Commission of Queensland, the CCC as well as an online survey of elected members and community focus groups held in the Lockyer Valley and Logan.

I encourage all councillors to read the Policy Executive agenda item on the proposed monitor which as always has been sent to your council a week before the meeting to enable their direct input into our decisions. Please either talk to your Policy Executive representative or send us your thoughts directly. This will be one of the most important decisions your executive will make in this local government term.


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