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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    Local Government Bill provides councils with modern legal framework

    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Local Government Bill provides councils with modern legal framework

    The Bligh Government has taken a significant step towards modernising the laws that govern Queensland councils with the introduction of a contemporary, easy-to-understand framework to guide council operations.

    Local Government Minister Warren Pitt introduced the Local Government Bill at the regional sitting of Parliament in Cairns today.

    Mr Pitt said the new legislation would replace an existing Act that was generally considered overly prescriptive, repetitive and difficult for both councils and the public to understand.

    “Given the new environment that our local governments now operate in following structural reform, it is essential to have a contemporary framework that is easy to use and understand and which supports councils as they deal with the challenges of the future,” Mr Pitt said.

    “The new Act, which has been reduced from more than 1500 pages to less than 300, will be principles based, easy to navigate and sufficiently flexible to apply to all local governments.”

    Mr Pitt said the new laws introduced five principles that mayors, councillors and local government employees must follow when performing their roles.

    “The principles set clear expectations and high standards for public administration, including the key goals of transparent decision making, inclusive community consultation and engagement practices, accountability for decisions and integrity of behaviour,” he said.

    “These principles remove the need for detailed operational prescription and give councils the flexibility to develop their own policies and procedures.

    “However, while the new Act will allow increased flexibility, it will also provide checks and balances to ensure councils meet their obligations.

    “It provides the State with a complete range of educative, preventative, monitoring and enforcement powers, as well as powers of dismissal and dissolution as a last resort.”

    Mr Pitt said the new Act would have a strong focus on the competency and performance of local governments in two critical areas: effective governance; and the delivery of sustainable development, particularly in relation to long-term planning, financial sustainability and the management of assets and infrastructure.

    “It will also provide clear expectations in terms of mayor and councillor roles, responsibility and powers,” he said.

    “Appropriate standards of behaviour for councillors will be enforced by the inclusion of more effective penalties for breaches of behaviour and inappropriate conduct.

    “Independent regional review panels will be established to consider allegations of such breaches and conduct, while the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal will have an expanded role as the state’s discipline tribunal.

    “The mechanisms will address the state’s and community’s expectations of fair, timely and unbiased reviews of councillor conduct.”

    Mr Pitt said under the new Act, the Local Government Minister’s powers would include the ability to suspend or revoke an unsound decision of a local government, including local laws and resolutions.

    “This will allow potential issues to be rectified quickly and reduce administrative red tape. Of course, a show-cause process will precede any exercising of this power and specific requirements for notification will ensure transparency,” he said.

    “Statutory revocation, dismissal and dissolution powers will be used as a last resort and will be preceded by early intervention, capacity building and other preventative measures where possible. A key feature of the new Act will also be to clarify the policy of separation between a council’s elected and administrative arms.

    “Councillors are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the local government, while the administrative arm – headed by the chief executive officer – will manage the operational process and procedures required to achieve this strategic direction.”

    Media contact:  Minister Pitt’s Office 3227 8819