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Taking stock of a big year

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday, 15 September 2017.

As we head towards the LGAQ’s 121st annual conference, it’s time for some reflection about how we go about representing the State’s local government sector as its peak body.

I’ll be honest: I think it’s one of the LGAQ’s faults that we tend to move at the speed of light, jumping from one big initiative to the other without sharing and celebrating what we have done for our members. Believe me, there has been plenty we have done in the 11 months or so since our last annual conference.

Minister Furner attends a Policy Executive meetingThe Association is blessed with a very sage President and Policy Executive to guide me as chief executive, and sharp-minded staff to make sense of what I'm saying or dreaming and then turning it into reality. Well done, them.

Of course, we are only as good as our members, and it’s been a feature of this past year that the lobbying effort of member councils has been first rate across a range of issues.

The roll-call of achievements for the past year is impressive.

Top of the pops is the Palaszczuk Government’s Works for Queensland program, both stages one and two, which has channelled $400 million to local government projects. Not only is this program an effective job creator, it’s also a fitting example of the bang for the public buck that can be generated when the partnership between the State and local governments is put to practical use.

On natural disaster funding, we have nailed what councils have been seeking regarding the eligibility of plant hire and equipment and day labour to be reimbursed under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

Lobbying the MDBS water buyback in Canberra

Sector wide, there has been record state and federal funding to councils in the respective 2017-18 budgets, a state of generosity that, as I have mentioned in previous columns, is all about having the political planets align for our sphere of government.

Specific examples on this score include the restoration of State Government Financial Assistance grants to Indigenous councils and the return of indexation to federal Financial Assistance Grants.

Policy areas on which local government has taken the lead were recognised, like the $12 million in funding for the Coastal Councils Climate Adaptation Program, the end of 100 percent fly-in-fly-out workforces for new resource projects and the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Trade and Investment Queensland.

And at the LGAQ it was a year of change and reform. We combined the business horsepower and talent of Local Buy, Propel Services, LGIS, Resolute and Total Solutions to create Peak Services. We took the decision to create the Local Government Independent Election Monitor as a means of lifting the council election process out of the vicious, dishonest and intensely personal nature of some of the campaigning we experienced last year.

Qld mayors accept their Qld Greats Award on behalf of their councils

Still to come is the launch of our data analytics service, LG Sherlock at annual conference, the next stage of our Better Councils Better Communities public image campaign, and a revamped LG Online.

Little wonder we never have time to stand still in local government. And if you put all of those achievements together, along with the day-to-day service we deliver to Queensland’s local communities, it was fitting that the LGAQ and local councils this year were named as Queensland Greats.

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