A roller coaster week
It started Sunday morning with the opening of the newspaper and ended on the Gold Coast with back to back summits on finance and civic leadership in local government.
Driving past the Gold Coast theme parks on the M1 on my way to the four-day intensive program, I reflected that not all roller coasters are material.
We woke up Sunday morning to read our council workforce could be taken over by a Public Service Commission style organisation.
We went out on the front foot very quickly. Our media blitz pulled no punches – the release from our President Mayor Mark Jamieson racked up 2,500 views in a very short space of time.
Then, yesterday, Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe told the Civic Leaders Summit it wasn't happening. Dead in the water. Phew.
But there was still more to come, with increased State Government powers to sack or suspend Mayors, councillors and indeed whole councils if it was “in the public interest” to do so announced. Whilst any increase in such powers is concerning. the term “in the public interest has a well-defined legal meaning in no less than the High Court of Australia.
So, it’s not a carte blanche open ended power. Better still through negotiation the LGAQ has secured a statutory 2-year review of that additional power.
By the end of next week elected members charged with an indictable or high-end integrity offence will automatically be stood down on full pay to they have their day in court.
That’s tough medicine but overwhelmingly supported by the community and thankfully will be free of political interference.
The Minister will have no say in who is stood down as it will be a mandatory statutory requirement.
Onto the two Summits, where I and delegates from the local government finance communities, as well as the upper echelons of leadership gathered for two very different programs with one thing in common – they both were bloody brilliant.
They had it all - two appearances by the Minister, the CCC Chair, our acting Director-General, the Integrity Commissioner, QTC CEO, Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, former PM John Howard, Glen Rushton Geoff Horns coach, a ridgy didge rocket scientist, management and finance gurus. Better still the totally wonderful mayors, deputy mayors and CEOs who very honestly told and shared their stories with us all beautifully put together by our incomparable MC Madonna King.
The words that best describe the feel described the mood at the Civic Leaders Summit were: Raw, honest, authentic, collegiate and inspirational. Our Civic Leaders were the true stars. It all starts again next week. You wouldn’t be dead for quids.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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