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Touching base in the north

Friday 16 August 2019

Quite a strong LGAQ presence in the State’s north this week with the entire Policy Executive meeting on Thursday Island in the Torres Shire and senior staff attending the Northern Alliance of Councils at Bowen in the Whitsunday region.

We are a bit like the Leyland brothers. We have been everywhere man, touching the State’s three borders over the past five weeks.

 

The Policy Executive meeting was the second staged in an indigenous community in a year, following on from a gathering at Palm Island in 2018. It’s important that the leadership group representing Queensland’s 77 local councils show its commitment to advancing First Nations communities in both word and deed.

It was a three day round trip for a one day meeting so, while it is a rare and privileged occasion for us to visit the northern most part of Australia, spare a thought for Mayors Fred Gela, of Torres Strait Regional Council, Vonda Malone of Torres Shire and Ed Newman of the Northern Peninsula Area, who have to make countless trips to Brisbane and Canberra on behalf of their communities.

It’s a massive State and trips like this drive it home to us. Taking the Policy Executive to remote communities does wonders for our collective sense of perspective.

It was a full agenda, with a focus on the Belcarra 2 legislation currently before Parliament and a prospective Belcarra 3 bill in October, as well as the future of Works for Queensland and overall grant reform. The Policy Executive also worked on motions it would put to the LGAQ Annual Conference (just eight weeks away) and a broader strategy for the next state budget and state election. Councils will get a taste of what’s in store when the conference motions are sent to them in early September. Suffice to say a lot of forward thinking is occurring.

Members would have been really proud of the passion and commitment displayed by their electoral district representatives who are not shrinking violets in advocating the views of councils in their patch. The Policy Executive is a robust, honest and very effective policy development forum. Nothing is off limits or too hard to discuss for this group of elected members.

In Bowen, the 27 councils that make up the Northern Alliance of Councils discussed future approaches to disaster response, climate change and economic development. They also heard from Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, demographer Bernard Salt and New Zealand lawyer and political adviser Mark Baker-Jones on how he helped deliver the zero carbon laws proposed by the government of Jacinda Ardern.

Finally, the LGAQ is at it again with a targeted advocacy campaign on social media called Hands Off My Vote as we have one last crack at staving off the introduction of compulsory preferential voting in local government elections. The campaign will run up to 20 August when the Belcarra 2 legislation is debated. Rest assured the LGAQ never backs down on matters of principle.

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006

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