By LGAQ Acting CEO Glen Beckett
The LGAQ and the State Government this week joined in condemning the Commonwealth’s refusal to extend its $1 million in bushfire grants to all fire-affected Queensland councils.
While we welcome and support the allocation of funding to five of our member councils - Livingstone, Noosa, Scenic Rim, Southern Downs and the Sunshine Coast Regional Council - we do not believe it is fair that nine others miss out.
The Gladstone, Bundaberg, Somerset, Gympie, Lockyer Valley, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Redlands and Gold Coast councils also have a legitimate case for funding.
Both the State Government and the LGAQ are in lockstep in the belief the Commonwealth simply should not play favourites - and we will continue our advocacy in this space.
This is an important stand to take as it could set a dangerous precedent for disaster funding into the future. We will continue to push the case for our councils both publicly and privately in the hope the Commonwealth sees sense.
Our advocacy is also continuing with the State Government over its draft changes to informal meetings. The State this week delayed debate on its latest Bill affecting local government – including the new conflict of interest offences - until the March sittings.
This is not the most desirable outcome given it will now be debated much closer to the March 28 local government elections. Our preference would be to have the new regime in place before the start of the next term so our new and continuing councillors can hit the ground running.
We have made this clear to the State as well as to the Department and are hopeful they will ensure the new laws are passed and any new regulations put in place as soon as possible.
Speaking of the council election, the Electoral Commission of Queensland will publish its notice of election on Saturday, meaning caretaker period will start. Reforms stemming from the Crime and Corruption Commissions’ Belcarra Inquiry are now in place so there is a new set of requirements for candidates seeking election and re-election.
The ECQ has compiled a list of requirements regarding eligibility, record keeping, banking and disclosure which all candidates should take the time to read.
As Greg mentioned last week, he is on his way to London for meetings with the LGMS scheme underwriters.
I will be filling in as acting CEO until March 1 and then general manager of advocacy Sarah Buckler will take over until March 14.