Advocacy 2019: a state of change
With Sarah Buckler - General Manager, LGAQ Advocacy
A matter of days out from the federal election it is pleasing to see issues that really matter to local communities, safer roads, better housing, smarter solutions to waste management, are finding their way into the campaign narrative. I’ve written several times before about how the 24 hour news cycle, the influence of social media, and the general sense of public malaise regarding politics all work against any sort of environment that encourages considered debate and discussion of public policy, local, federal or otherwise. Such is the nature of advocacy in 2019, where flexibility and adaptability are just as important as policy integrity.
That is why the LGAQ took a different approach to this election campaign, using our leverage as a recognised advocacy body to put pressure on the parties contesting the poll right from the outset. We have done this in several ways, issuing regular “report cards” on the parties’ performance, maintaining a daily blog, ramping up our already substantial social media presence with video, audio and animations. These activities have gone on alongside the more traditional (and still enormously effective) practice of advocating directly to the parties and requesting detailed responses to a set number of policy asks on behalf of the sector. Our seven point policy plan for this election was produced after extensive consultation with our members on what they wanted to see from the parties contesting this election. It complements similar proposals being pursued by the Australian Local Government Association while addressing policy issues specific to Queensland local government.
I’m glad to say what has followed is significant movement from the Liberal National Party and Labor on the issues we highlighted in our seven point election policy plan, movement that is reflected in their improved stand in the second edition of our campaign report card. There will be a third when we receive the formal response from all parties to our plan. But there is still a way to go in this campaign so we remain hopeful that more of our proposals will be addressed, like the $200 million a year mitigation fund to help build and maintain public infrastructure to withstand natural disasters, the $57 million that councils need to kickstart innovative solutions to help protect the great Barrier Reef and, of course, the need to restore financial assistance grants to proper levels.
Away from the election, there are also developments at the state level that deserve the attention of all 77 local councils. The parliamentary committee investigating the legislation giving effect to the remaining Belcarra-related reforms and introducing big electoral changes like compulsory preferential voting for divided councils. Naturally, the LGAQ will be making a comprehensive submission to the committee and invites councils to provide input by 14 May. But I also urge councils to make their own views known to the committee, which has set a deadline of 21 May for submissions. Regrettably, the committee has only set down one day of hearings into the legislation, on 27 May in Brisbane.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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