By Greg Hallam
The LGAQ currently has a laser-like focus on three big state issues—getting a reasonable outcome to the fallout of the Goondiwindi v Tait (RMPC) case, simplifying the current Conflict of Interest (COI) laws and their oversight by the Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA), and getting the State Government to come to the table to address the infrastructure cliff in rural and remote water and sewerage.
With respect to councils’ road maintenance performance contract (RMPC) dilemma, the LGAQ has formally written to the Palaszczuk Government seeking amendment to Section 37 of the Civil Liability Act 2003. This will take some time, as our request must first be considered by the relevant parliamentary committee. Furthermore, together with Local Government Mutual (LGM) and solicitors King & Co, we prepared correspondence for councils to send to DTMR requesting specific indemnification. Finally, we held well-patronised webinars for councils on the ins and out of the various courts’ decisions with respect to the Tait case. In terms of councils’ current COI dilemmas, the LGAQ sought specific examples of the difficulties member councils are experiencing, with no fewer than 27 councils providing case studies.
The irrefutable truth is that successive state governments have saved in the order of $2 billion since they abolished water and sewerage subsidies, postamalgamation.
Our Intergovernmental Relations team then worked with King & Co to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based submission to the State Government, which was dispatched to the Deputy Premier and OIA in late March. The ball is in play and we are seeking a follow-up meeting with the Hon Steven Miles to make our case in person. We have also released version two of the COI app, greatly simplifying the tool and making it far more user-friendly. Finally, recent welcome rainfalls aside, the case remains that many rural and remote towns don’t have a reliable or entirely safe water supply—and the situation is getting worse, not better. There’s a major pipe burst every 80 minutes in rural Queensland. The LGAQ, together with the Queensland Water Directorate and individual councils, works to triage the most urgent of cases. The irrefutable truth is that successive state governments have saved in the order of $2 billion since they abolished water and sewerage subsidies, post-amalgamation. The time has come to rectify that situation; doing nothing is not an option. As you can see, the LGAQ well and truly has the bit between its teeth.