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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT “SHAKE-UP” TO SUPPORT NEW COUNCILS

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT “SHAKE-UP” TO SUPPORT NEW COUNCILS

    The Queensland Government’s Department of Local Government will undergo its biggest ever structural change to ensure it can better service the State’s new local councils.

    At a Summit of Councils in Brisbane today, Premier Anna Bligh announced the sweeping decentralisation of the Department Local Government, Sport and Recreation, to support the State’s new local government model.

    “We have changed the face of local government in this State. We have created a more powerful sector – councils better equipped to meet the challenges facing local government over the next 20 years.

    “Today, I have informed the mayors of Queensland that we will support changes to their councils with changes of our own.

    “The Department of Local Government will establish five regional areas across the State, through which services and support to local governments in those areas will be provided.
    “In July we’ll begin moving about 150 positions from the Brisbane office out into new regional offices in the Far North, North, Central, South West and South East Queensland.
    “I have asked the newly elected Mayors to give me their feedback on the best location for the regional offices.

    “The Department is very aware that the needs of western councils differ from those of far northern councils or those in the south east. This new structure will deliver true, localised support to our councils.

    “We have delivered a new system of local government and we are backing that up with a reshaped Department of Local Government.

    The Premier also confirmed at the Summit that a further $17.75 million in funding would be delivered to the newly-amalgamated councils, as early as this week.

    Ms Bligh said the funding would come on top of the $8.75 million already provided to Local Transition Committees for the preparation of Transition Action Plans.

    “This new money will help councils implement those plans.

    “The Government’s $27.1million funding package dwarfs any other State or Territory’s local government reform assistance package.

    “The Local Government Association of Queensland asked for $26 million – we delivered $27million,” Ms Bligh said.

    Local Government Minister Warren Pitt said the government would closely scrutinise council claims that they faced additional costs as a direct result of amalgamations.

    “In many cases the additional costs being cited have nothing to do with amalgamations, but would have been faced by councils in the normal course of events.

    “There have been various claims about the extent of increased costs as a result of amalgamations – some as high as $200 million – but so far there had been no substantiation of the amounts claimed to be involved.

    “The government has not been presented with any breakdown of information that shows the costs of amalgamation are significantly greater than the $27 million that has already been approved for payment to the newly-merged councils,” he said.

    “The important thing in considering the issue of costs is also to take into account savings.

    “The government is interested in learning from councils about any new costs they might face in excess of the $27 million that has been provided, but we are equally interested to hear of the offsetting savings they are going to make.

    “The financial statements from the local transition committees show that the average transition costs are likely to be around one per cent of council revenue.

    “When you consider that reforms in other states have conservatively estimated annual savings to be around two to three per cent, it becomes clear that some of the claims that are being made do not present a true picture of the situation.”

    Thursday March 27, 2008

    Media contact: Premier’s Office 3224 4500
    Minister Pitt’s Office 3227 8819

    Please Note: Image of the Premier and Mayors attached.