WHAT IS LOCAL GOVERNMENT?
Australia has three tiers of government - federal, state and local.
Queensland's 77 local councils operate under the local government system – a system that is integral to the democratic system of government in Australia.
The legal framework within which local government operates in Queensland is provided by State Government legislation:
- The Constitution of Queensland 2001
- The Queensland Local Government Act 2009 and
- The Queensland Local Government Electoral Act 2011
Democratically elected members make up local government councils, with elections held every four years.
As with other democratically elected governments, councils have powers to raise revenue (partly through council rates) to provide and maintain infrastructure and services, to regulate activities (such as building development) and to impose penalties if local regulations are breached (for example dangerous dog attacks).
Since the 1960s the role of councils has steadily expanded, due to increased demand and expectation for local services. Local government provides vital economic, social and environmental support for communities.
At times (for example in the area of planning and development) councils work with the State Government, and their decisions may be subject to advice and direction from the State.
Whether a service is a legislative requirement of councils, or is provided by local choice, the Local Government Act requires that councils are responsive to the needs, interests and aspirations of individuals and groups within their communities.
During 2008 in a historic move by a Bligh Government looking to cut costs and unite regional economies, the number of Queensland councils was more than halved. As 157 councils became 73, regions that were once distant neighbours became extended family.
As with many forced family unions, the reaction was less than acrimonious in some quarters. The ‘Free Noosa' and the ‘Capricorn Coast Independence Movement' were among a number of dedicated campaigns which sprung up out of communities resentful of the lack of consultation on an issue which directly impacted their own backyards.
Four years later, their concerns were registered.
With the onset of the 2012 State election campaign, the Queensland Liberal National party made it clear that they supported the rights of communities to determine their own future as an independent local government area. The Newman Government's election promise to give councils a vote to reverse the 2008 decision to amalgamate proved overwhelmingly popular.
In 2013, the former Noosa, Douglas, Livingstone and Mareeba shires were given the opportunity to vote to de-amalgamate their councils. All voted to have their councils re-instated by the start of next year, under old shire boundaries.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli has recently released the regulations and named the four figureheads set to guide the de-amalgamation of four Queensland councils.
Peter Franks, Graeme Kanofski, Rod Ferguson and Jeff Tate have been named as the experienced local government figures who will guide the transition of the new councils of Noosa, Livingstone, Mareeba and Douglas respectively.
The road to final de-amalgamation will be challenging at times. In response, LGAQ is committed to supporting the newly re-established councils, and the de-amalgamating councils during this period.
In your community - FAQs
When does the new Local Government come into existence?
Changeover day is 1 January 2014
When were the elections for the new Local Government held?
Saturday 9 November 2013
What is a ‘continuing local government'?
It is the existing council minus the de-amalgamating portion i.e. Cairns, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast and Tablelands Regional Councils.
What is meant by the term ‘new local government'?
It is the de-amalgamating portion of a continuing local government i.e. Douglas, Livingstone, Noosa and Mareeba Shire Councils.
What does the ‘related' concept mean when used during the de-amalgamation process?
A continuing local government is ‘related' to a new local government. In practice this concept allows easy reference to the new local government before it comes into existence. For some examples please see sections 36, 45 & 49 of the Local Government (De-amalgamation Implementation) Regulation 2013.
Can the transfer manager enter into contracts?
Yes, however before entering into a contract that will bind the new local government, the approval of the Department of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience's Chief Executive is required. S16
What is the ‘transfer methodology'?
The transfer methodology is designed to ensure the proper transfer of employees, assets, liabilities and documents from a continuing local government to the related new local government.
Who is on the transfer committee?
The CEO of the continuing local government and the transfer manager.
What happens if the transfer committee do not agree on a particular matter?
The Minister for Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience will adjudicate.
What is the local advisory committee?
The local advisory committee meet monthly with the transfer manager to provide local input.
How are de-amalgamation costs recovered?
De-amalgamation costs are a debt payable by the new local government.
What happens to local laws that currently apply during the transfer process?
The local laws that currently apply will become the new local government's local laws until such time as the new local government makes new local laws.
What happens with the planning scheme?
The current scheme will apply to the new local government from the day it was originally made by the continuing local government. LGAQ recommends all continuing local governments wait until after changeover date before considering changes to planning scheme (see section 46 of the regulations for further detail).
What are the divisions to be removed from the continuing local governments?
The divisions to be removed are as follows
a. Cairns Regional Council - Julia Lieu Division 10
b. Rockhampton Regional Council - Glenda Mather Division 1; Tom Wyatt Division 2; and Bill Ludwig Division 3
c. Sunshine Coast Regional Council - Russell Green Division 11; Tony Wellington Division 12
d. Tablelands Regional Council - Gaye Taylor Division 1; Evan McGrath (Deputy Mayor) Division 7; Jenny Jensen Division 8
How many employees will be transferred to the new local government?
This is a decision made by the CEO of the continuing local government. It is important to remember that any applicable EBA's are transferred with the staff member it applies to and that should redundancies be required, they will be made for by the new Local Government. The Regulation sets out a range that the CEO must comply with when considering the transfer of staff. For further detail see section 55 of the regulations. Exact figures are as follows
i. Cairns Regional Council 135 – 165
ii. Rockhampton Regional Council 325 – 400
iii. Sunshine Coast Regional Council 365 – 450
iv. Tablelands Regional Council 245 – 300
Can a continuing local government enter into contracts that bind the new local government?
A continuing local government needs permission from the transfer manager before entering into a major contract that would bind the new local government. The threshold is $200 000 or 1% of the continuing local government's net rate and utility charges. For further details see section 57 of the regulations.
De-amalgamation Poll Results from the Electoral Commission Queensland