Weekly Speak CEO Column
Standing up for councils
At its core, the LGAQ is a creature of Queensland councils. It has been since its beginning 122 years ago. We are a not-for-profit public company limited by guarantee. Our Australian Securities and Investment Commission certificate of incorporation says just that.
Our role is crystal clear, to protect and promote the interests our member councils and add value through the power of many- economies of scope and scale. There is no other body that has as its sole interest the well-being of the State’s local 77 councils. We are not a Federal or State Government agency nor are we a watchdog on councils.
My colleagues and I at Local Government House are under no doubt as for whom we work. We are ultimately governed by an Annual General Meeting of all members (just three weeks away), a President elected by all members on the floor of Annual Conference, a Policy Executive - comprising a further 15 elected members endorsed by their neighbour councils - that meets six times a year, and a business board of four of those Policy Executive members, including the President, that meets monthly.
Of course, the LGAQ is not a political party but we do have people from all sides of politics on our Policy Executive and Board. That is a great thing as it means we are truly representative of the mainstream political process. We engage almost daily with the major political parties on all the big issues facing councils. The Association has two full time staff who do just that: advocate to the politicians (or to their advisors), supported by their boss, Sarah Buckler, as well as the President and me if need be. We have annual conference motions, an Advocacy Action Plan and 10-point state and federal election plans to guide those discussions.
As the LGAQ is an apolitical body, we can engage around specific issues and leave the politics to others. We call it issue by issue, agreeing and disagreeing with both sides of politics depending on how that issue affects councils. The politicians know our only interest is councils and that there is no other agenda, even if we do rile them up occasionally.
Cue the media coverage around our criticism of the waste levy this week. Appearing on the front page of The Courier-Mail (see below) questioning the Government’s policy on the day we are due to appear before the parliamentary committee was bound to raise hackles in William St. But it did draw widespread attention to the inadequacy of the Government’s approach to ensuring councils were best placed to deal with the introduction and operation of the levy.
Quite often we must make the tough calls - sometimes on the spot - about what is good for the majority of councils and not just look to the short term. We never assume we know better than our members. That is why we bombard you with text messages, surveys, requests for information and regular meetings. Armed with that intelligence, the LGAQ can always do a better job of representing your interests. Rest assured that at the end of the day it is elected members in the form of the President and or the Policy Executive that make all the big calls here at Local Government House. It is their names on the paper, they own the decisions.
Our member councils get to take us to task about our performance and value for money at our AGM on the second day of annual conference .There are three opportunities actually: reception and debate of the President’s annual address, the Policy Executive’s annual report and our consolidated annual accounts. Don’t be shy have your say, it is a democratic member-based organisation after all.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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