This, plus the Community and SEQ Alliances’ own experiences with local councils has led to advocacy with the Minister for Local Government for some reforms over and above the Belcarra Reforms. There is a strong link or nexus between alleged council corruption and planning assessment approvals, which has been raised with both the Minister for Local Government, Hon Stirling Hinchliffe, and the Minister for Planning, Hon. Cameron Dick.
It is Gecko Environment Council’s understanding that all Councillors and Council are expected to operate within the framework of the Local Government Principles set out in Section 4 (2)of the Local Government Act, 2009.
The local government principles are:
Local Government (Councillor Complaints) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018 establishes the Independent Assessor and the Office of the Independent Assessor to investigate and deal with the conduct of councillors where it is alleged or suspected to be inappropriate conduct, misconduct or, when referred to the Independent Assessor by the CCC, corrupt conduct. A key component of these reforms includes removing a council’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Department from the process of making preliminary assessments of complaints. Kathleen Florian, who has extensive experience in investigating complaints about council conduct was appointed as the Independent Assessor. www.dlgrma.qld.gov.au/office-of-the-independent-assessor
Belcarra Reforms Stage 2 and other reforms are currently being considered by the Minister for Local Government, Stirling Hinchliffe.Meeting with Minister for Local Government: The SEQ Alliance has written several submissions to the Minister outlining our concerns and on 19th November five community representatives from the Alliance met with the Minister, his staff and representatives from the Dept. of Planning. (see below for these documents).
The issues raised with the Minister include:
In addition to these matters the Minister requested feedback on:
Meeting with Tim Dunne, Strategic Policy Manager with Dept. of Local Government on 19th December was held at Robina Community Centre and attended by representatives of 17 community organisations. Mr Dunne has been travelling throughout Queensland for some months talking with communities about reform of local government and will release a report on his findings by mid 2019. He advised those present that the issues were similar throughout Queensland.
The same matters were raised with Mr Dunne as the Minister, but a few additional ones were:
This document was signed between the State Government and Local Governments in 2015 and enables Council to conduct its business with minimal interference from State Government. https://www.dlgrma.qld.gov.au/resources/policy/local-government/partners-in-government-agreement-2015.pdf
It is currently being reviewed and members of the public can make submissions.
Gecko raised concerns with both the Minister and Mr Dunne that perhaps the hands-off approach of this Agreement had contributed to the problems with local government in Queensland.
Documents submitted on this subject are: