Are we there yet Mum?

Published: 17th April 2020

I feel your pain – and restlessness – as our seemingly never-ending election count drags on.

Tomorrow marks three weeks since March 28 and, while many ballots have now been fully declared, the count continues for some. The LGAQ remains in daily contact with the ECQ and is doing what it can to bring our quadrennial elections to a conclusion.

The one thing that 28 years in this role has taught me is that, as frustrating as the current delays in getting councils restarted are, they will be a distant memory by June as local government well and truly cranks up.

We’re not able to offer our normal, comprehensive election LGAQ election analysis just yet but I can tell you that the likely 17 per cent turnover of mayors – not including First Nations councils – is the smallest change in a generation.

The turnover among Indigenous mayors was much higher at 70 per cent.

Without having a final councillor defeats figure it appears the majority of Queenslanders have decided to stick with their tried and true councillors.

By my count there are 19 female mayors in Queensland, representing a quarter of the mayoral cohort and an increase on 2016. Anecdotally, where councils were on the nose with voters there were wholesale clean outs, although these have been few and far between.

As the COVID-19 shutdown continues, new councils have had to abide by the social distancing restrictions as they are sworn in. Some have livestreamed the declarations to ensure community participation.

These social distancing rules will also impact the way council meetings are conducted until the shutdown is lifted.

I want to assure our members the LGAQ has committed a great deal of human resources over the past month to developing a local government-led counter economic stimulus package to create a bridge for local communities to hopefully better times ahead in 2021 and beyond once the threat of COVID-19 has eased.

It is not a rent-seekers wish list: our economic stimulus package is steeped in reason and economic orthodoxy. Believe me, it is cogently argued. More of that next week.

Some good news this week as the State Government gazetted a significantly amended Elected Member Code of Conduct, fully meeting the changes requested by the LGAQ. Your association retained the services of Jim Murdoch QC, an acknowledged expert on the reach of the Australian constitution on political speech and association, to advise on the Code of Conduct.

This is one of the many battles the LGAQ conducts behind closed doors in your interests. In the end the State Government conceded all the points we raised, meaning we now have a workable document that we can wholeheartedly support.  

Finally, the LGAQ Policy Executive (PE) held the final meeting of its four-year term ahead of the conclusion of that term at the end of May. Only serving mayors and councillors were eligible to vote, with outgoing or defeated representatives not participating.

In order to ensure every LGAQ electoral district could have input into the meeting, our President Mayor Mark Jamieson invited eight non-current PE members to sit in on discussions. Most importantly, the PE settled the format of the LGAQ’s five-year $500m Rural Water and Wastewater Guarantee, a great way to finish four highly productive years of work.

Thank you to them for their leadership and service to our sphere of government.

Your new Policy Executive will take office in June and meet for the first time at the end of that month.