Weekly Speak CEO Column
A big week ahead
It has been 123 years since the first LGAQ Annual Conference in Brisbane, the minutes of which I’ve read many a time. And no, despite my long service at the LGAQ, I wasn’t present at that first meeting.
The old timers saw value in getting together to pursue common purposes, like how to engage with the State Government of the day and share experiences with their fellow elected members.
They believed in strength in numbers and unity of purpose. Even back then they did not want to be picked off one at a time by the state government.
Back almost a century and a quarter ago the political agenda was far slower moving and the annual get together was timely enough to properly deal with the matters of importance. In 2019, the winds of politics and public policy blow much more strongly, daily if not hourly.
Over the first half of the 20th century, changes to the operation of the LGAQ and annual conference were minimal. Motions were moved, debated and passed, letters sent to Ministers, replies to those letters recorded as they came in, and it was all collated for the next conference to consider.
In the mid-1960s, the LGAQ appointed its first full time CEO and annual conference became a more professional event. Then during the 1980s (with Greg Hoffman at the helm of the LGAQ) the annual conference became a show piece and a top-class event with great speakers, a robust motion debate and a lively social program. Large conference sponsorships were arranged and accepted for the first time helping to both defray costs to delegates and observers and enliven proceedings.
Over the past 25 years, annual conference has continued to change, becoming a two-day event seven years ago given the demand on elected members time, albeit the “Conference Monday” is now choc-a-block with all sorts of specialist topic forums, learning opportunities and accredited training. Whilst entirely voluntary, the Conference Monday is extremely well attended.
Conference exhibitors are now an integral part of conference, varying between 80 and 100 displays each year which add greatly to the overall event. All sorts of digital technology is used to run the event including voting on motions. Most importantly, trade and sponsorship pay for 60 percent of the $1 million event, greatly limiting the financial cost to member councils.
But the motion debate on the Wednesday is still central, with its decisions binding on the President, Board and Policy Executive of the Association. That said, the event extends beyond the AGM and the big trade display.
The keynote speakers are world class, the senior political leadership of the state and nation are in regular attendance, and the Tuesday afternoon council segment break-outs are an invaluable opportunity for similar types of councils to discuss common issues and opportunities. Of course, the media cover the event from go to whoa. There is lots of mingling time at smoko and lunch to swap experiences with elected members and CEOs from right across the state. Plus, there is always one or two big announcements made at the event.
In that regard on Tuesday, we will announce the shape and direction of the LGAQ’s much vaunted community listening tool, powered by AI and Natural Language Processing, to be rolled out early 2020. The tool will have a name by then and be explained to delegates.
Better still, the name of the LGAQ funded first ever Independent Electoral Monitor/ Fact Checker and how their office will operate will be unveiled on the Wednesday- a biggie.
There are 101 good reasons to be at the LGAQ Annual Conference in Cairns next week. I hope to see you there.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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