Some public policy reforms are shouted from the rooftops. Others are quietly ushered through with little fuss or comment. It takes a special skill to ensure the big reforms are handled efficiently, with all stakeholders consulted and briefed well before the intended changes are due to take place. So far, it looks like the Newman Government’s handling of certain land reforms fits that bill.
The Government’s recent release of a discussion paper, titled Queensland State Land _ Strengthening Our Economic Future, has signalled its intention to introduce some of the most profound changes to the management of state land in more than 100 years. But, rather than this coming as a surprise to local government, a significant manager of state land, the extensive consultation the Government has pursued means councils are set to be fully informed of the changes well before they are introduced.
The discussion paper sets out a vision of a state land system which empowers land managers, including councils, to have a greater say on how that land can be used for the benefit of their communities and the regional economy. The paper also canvasses a system that allows easier conversion of leasehold land into freehold.
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has already held several workshops with the LGAQ and other stakeholders on the issues outlined in the discussion paper and the Association has sent out to councils a draft submission setting out local government’s attitude to any reform. As Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps says in the paper, Queensland needs a modern state land system to build a stronger, more economically resilient state. Hats off to the Government for ensuring local government has a say in how that modernisation could be realised.