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New Local Government Minister

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday 10 February, 2017.

Local government in Queensland has a new minister after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning announced Ferny Grove MP Mark Furner would take over the portfolio.Ferny Grove MP Mark Furner

Mr Furner also picks up the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander portfolio. We welcome Mr Furner’s appointment and will seek to meet him at the earliest opportunity to establish what is, of course, one of the most important relationships for the local government sector.

I would like to thank Deputy Premier Jackie Trad for her magnificent work, wish her well in the transport portfolio and assure LGAQ members our relationship with her will remain strong even though she no longer holds the local government portfolio. Ms Trad will keep responsibility for planning and infrastructure and, I understand, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority in keeping with her infrastructure responsibilities.

While it may be a small outfit compared with some other peak national bodies, the work of the Australian Local Government Association matters deeply to each and every Queensland council. With 70 percent of the external funding councils receive coming from the Federal Government, all funding roads lead to Canberra. 

The size of that chunk of funding is no surprise when you consider the Federal Government raises 83 percent of the nation’s taxation revenue while local government raises just 3 percent, but that’s another story.

The LGAQ contributes $550,000 all up annually to ALGA - roughly 22 percent of its subscription revenue. That helps pay for a pretty lean team: 11 staff, seven of whom have a policy representation orientation.

This week on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland hosted ALGA’s annual two-day strategic planning meeting. The LGAQ’s two representatives were our president, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson and Redlands' Mayor Karen Williams, supported by our advocacy general manager Sarah Buckler and yours truly. It was a productive couple of days with ALGA resolving a very tight strategic plan for the year ahead.

The big themes that emerged were:

  • strengthening local government
  • financial sustainability  
  • strengthening regions and cities 
  • infrastructure 
  • innovation and digital transformation in local government.

They reflect councils’ concerns and the Federal Government's broader policy agenda. There are sub-strategies to each and by early March the whole thing will be supported by an action plan. When all those other measures are locked away at ALGA’s March ordinary meeting all councils will receive a succinct summary.

I would modestly suggest that our two ALGA directors, Mark and Karen, were star contributors at the meeting - go Queensland. They helped secure the tightest, most coherent and politically savvy annual strategic plan for ALGA in a long time.

Meanwhile the LGAQ was doing the hard yards, appearing before a range of parliamentary scrutiny of legislations hearings during the week, as you will read elsewhere in Council Courier.

Bring on next week, when the entire LGAQ Policy Executive will visit Winton for its annual trip to rural and regional Queensland. See how we go in the 45 degree heat for three days: bet we aren't as tough as our country cousins.

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