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Stilettos, Signals and Superstars ….

Acting chief executive Sarah Buckler

Amidst the flurry of letters and meetings that the almost 90 policy motions passed at the LGAQ annual conference has generated, I am reminded that it will soon be a year since I returned to work for the Association. Officially, I am yet to have my performance review but perhaps I can take some heart from the fact I am no longer typically greeted by the words … ‘Well, you have some big shoes to fill….’

I have tactfully tried to navigate the large footprint left by my predecessor, but the truth is I usually wear stilettos and so have been dealing with challenging footwear for a long time. Carrying the baton for policy advocacy on behalf of the local government sector in Queensland is far from something I take lightly.

It has been a big year, with more than $1 billion in additional funding being secured for our member councils. But what might be even more important in the long term are the very welcome signals that our funding model is about to change. A commitment to this change was the very first policy motion passed at this years’ annual conference. It also holds the number one spot on our 10 Point State Election Plan

The rationale for this is simple. It is not sustainable for a sector responsible for more than $108 billion in assets, employing 40,000 staff and delivering 245 distinct and essential community services to be at the mercy of annual competitive funding cycles.

Our members are even more confounded to find themselves measured against financial management and auditing standards that assume they have absolute autonomy over revenue generation and investment decisions. No other business or level of government is expected to operate this way.

Change needs to happen regardless of when the election is called or what it’s outcome will be. The LGAQ will be relentless in arguing the merits of this change to all sides. Our advocacy campaign unashamedly targets all parties and relevant independents to resolve issues significant to the local government sector. This year we plan to undertake an even more intensive stakeholder engagement campaign and build even greater grassroots support for our asks.

Our digital, social and media capacity will work hand in glove with our traditional intergovernmental relations and policy efforts as we develop and execute our campaign strategy. It is an exciting time and, as usual, the people that make up the LGAQ are stepping up. When I first became part of the LGAQ 20 years ago, it was full of passionate people absolutely committed to improving the capacity of local councils to serve their communities. I can honestly say while some of our skill sets have changed, the Association is still full of passionate and committed superstars.

The staff of the LGAQ are without question a great asset for local government in Queensland. This was again confirmed to me this week as I travelled to Tasmania to meet policy directors from local government associations across the country and contrasted our positioning with those of our national cousins.

I feel great pride for our sector when I can talk about LGSherlock and the data analytics capacity we are building alongside our continued advocacy for improved Federal funding.

The LGAQ did not achieve this leadership in culture and capacity by accident. Although officially 10 August was the date Greg Hallam completed 25 years of service with the LGAQ it wasn’t until annual conference last week that members could acknowledge his outstanding contribution and the impact of his leadership.

To show Greg our appreciation, we produced a video which we “premiered” at the conference dinner. We are grateful for the contributions of former LGAQ president Paul Bell, former local government minister Terry Mackenroth and Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, all of whom were in office when Greg’s LGAQ career began, and for the images supplied by The Courier-Mail. For those not in attendance we hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane and also get some sense of how significant Greg’s stewardship of the sector has been over the past quarter of a century.

 

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