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Weekly Speak CEO Column

Indigenous councils time has come

Friday, 22 June 2018

Whilst all the noise and movement in local government this week emanated out of Canberra for the four days of the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly, my trained eye couldn’t help but see that Queensland and indeed Australia’s indigenous councils really were front and centre on the big stage.


Firstly, our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull impressed more than 800 delegates and observers present at the assembly’s Gala Dinner by addressing them in the native tongue of the traditional owners of the Canberra area, the Ngunnawal people. Then there was Palm Island Mayor and LGAQ Policy Executive member Alf Lacey’s eloquent speech on the floor on the conference in support of the restoration of funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. The motion he put to the assembly attracted overwhelming support, and he followed it up by leading a dash up to Parliament House with a big contingent of Queensland indigenous council representatives, assisted by the LGAQ, to lobby the Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.  This is a fight not won, but one which we are determined to prevail.

Finally, the crowning glory was the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council receiving the National Local Government Award for Excellence for their Emergency Management Network. How good is that?


Video: Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities

I thought some more on just how far Queensland indigenous councils have progressed in the last decade. They have achieved greatly strengthened state government financial assistance, driven the creation of the successful Indigenous Leaders Forum (ILF), won acceptance and integration of indigenous councils into many regional organisations of councils, and doubled their representation on the LGAQ Policy Executive. That befits the fact that nearly one quarter of our members are indigenous councils. The LGAQ is holding a Policy Executive meeting on Palm Island in August this year and on Thursday Island in August 2019.

There are still many battles yet to be fought and won but it would be entirely remiss not to acknowledge these giant strides that have been made by Queensland’s 17 indigenous councils. The confidence and passion with which their leaders speak in the media and their increased attendance at key conferences and events around the country attest to that.

Let me make a big plug for the upcoming biennial LGAQ Future Cities Smart Communities Conference in Cairns from 11-13 July. This event is the best of its type in Australia. Speakers from the UK, Singapore, Japan and the US and some of the smartest people in our country will feature at the event. A special part of this conference are the private one-to-one fireside chats with our key note speakers and the amazing trade displays set out like you have never seen before. In truth, folks, you normally must go overseas to witness a conference like this, so  save your council some money and come to Cairns instead.

Finally, a reminder that the closing date for feedback on the new draft documents developed as part of the implementation of the new Councillor Complaints system is next week, 29 June. It’s important that the Government knows what you think about the draft new code of conduct, draft model meeting procedures and draft example investigations policy, all of which have been developed by the Local Government Liaison Group, which advises the Minister on the implementation of the new Councillor Complaints system and includes the LGAQ as a member.


Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006

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