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CEO column: Silver linings out west

Another HUGE week as I pen this column from the Western Queensland Local Government Conference in Emerald.

Firstly, some sad news but with a very big silver lining. Earlier today, Noel Playford, the Joint Chair of both LGM and LGW for the past 21 years announced his retirement from these very important roles.

Make no mistake, Noel is as close to being a living legend in our sphere of government as you will ever get. Read my full tribute here.

Noel will formally retire June 30th, and his replacement will be announced at the end of May.

 

His legacy beyond Noosa Council and as a former President of the LGAQ from 2000-2004 is with LGM and LGW. His vision resulted in a $500 m, or half a billion, saving to councils in premiums over that time. On the workers compensation front alone in 1998, Queensland councils paid 3.8% of wages to state Work Cover. Today that figure is 1.3%. It’s an amazing achievement.

The silver lining is the still very robust state of the LGM and LGW balance sheet which Noel and his colleagues on those two boards have overseen.

This enabled the LGAQ Board, the trustees of the two schemes, to decide just over six weeks ago based on external expert advice to reserve $50 m of the scheme’s current forecast surpluses to protect against any future shocks to the insurance system (equivalent to two years of current premium).

The move effectively offsets LGAQ’s annual subscriptions through an ongoing LGM/ LGW rebate through to circa 2030. An average of around $5 million cash will be returned to members of both schemes annually over the next 12 years.

This is subject to no fundamental changes in actuarial settings (unlikely). Then the cherry on the top is a further $9 m has been reserved for LG Sherlock type projects that help manage risk of all sorts into the future. A survey of scheme members last year rated investment in these type of activities with available surplus funds as their highest priority.

Of course, the two schemes have already paid dividends to member councils of $24.75 m over the previous seven financial years. Unheard of, the LGAQ truly demonstrating to its members its first philosophy. It’s your money not ours.

I just say again thankyou Noel Playford and best wishes for the years ahead.

I move onto a very big week in state parliament where that legislative assembly spent a full two days debating Belcarra amendments and the new Council Complaint System. The upshot of all those deliberations has been comprehensively covered by the LGAQ. Our team was right on the button texting out talking points as soon as the legislation was passed.

Our breakdown here is the best and clearest you'll find on the web.

Best of all, out here in western Queensland, councils just keep on keeping on.

Read Greg's opinion piece published in the Courier Mail: LGAQ adopts policy initiatives to restore confidence in local councils.

 

Photo credit: Tourism and Events QLD

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006

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