Holding the line
At its heart, the core responsibility of the LGAQ is to protect and promote the interests of its 77 members. We are not an arm of State Government nor a ratepayer association. Councils are our sole concern. That is why, on an in principal basis, your Association could not support the seven-page Bill currently before the Queensland Parliament to dismiss the Ipswich City Council and appoint an Administrator until the March 2020 quadrennial Council elections.
We appreciate there are a myriad of views amongst our members on this. We are also not blind to the serious issues surrounding that Council. However, you either do or don’t support due process and natural justice and the LGAQ falls on the side of having your day in court. That said, a six-shooter beats a full house and the will of the Parliament will prevail in this matter. We feel greatly for those Ipswich City Council elected members who have not been the subject of an adverse finding or been charged with an offence and are offering them every assistance.
It’s worth recounting that over the past three months that the LGAQ has successfully argued against proposals for a Public Service Commission style body taking over council workforces and a very broad power to dismiss councils that “lose community confidence” instead securing a more reasonable “in the public interest” test.
It’s also fair to say a lot of the battles we are involved in are held behind closed doors. It must be that way because of the Cabinet in Confidence nature of discussion. Break that convention with either side of politics when they are in power and you are cut off and thrown into eternal darkness. However, as soon as the government of the day makes a public statement or legislative bills are tabled in parliament, it’s game on.
As our Minister has said several times, there are two more tranches of “Belcarra” legislation to be presented to Parliament this year, the next tranche being due in late August. The LGAQ has said again and again that we will support all bar a few of the Crime and Corruption Commission’s recommendations and indeed those contested reforms have already been legislated.
What we will not do is be rushed or sign up to other “reforms” that are not relevant to the Belcarra Report’s 31 recommendations. Unless there is a compelling case, the answer is no. The LGAQ is not interested in reform for reform’s sake or giving effect to political ideology.
We are super vigilant to ensure there is a not an overreaction to the current limited but real problems in a small number of councils. The LGAQ will draw the line and then hold it. Be very sure of that.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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