Councillors' 'hands tied'

Brad Bauer would like to see councillors given more power.
Brad Bauer would like to see councillors given more power. Allan Reinikka

A FORMER public servant is proposing a change to Queensland legislation to untie councillors' hands from behind their backs.

Brad Bauer has raised concerns that councillors ability to be "the voice of the people" was being restricted by the Local Government Act 2009.

He said he had studied the Act and associated documents after being concerned that decisions made by councillors were being overturned by council's public servants.

Mr Bauer said the area of the Act he was concerned about came under Obligations of Councillors, Giving directions to local government staff.

This part of the Act states the mayor may give a direction to the chief executive officer, however, no other councillor may give a direction to the CEO and no councillor, including the mayor, can give a direction to any other local government employee.

Mr Bauer said he had spoken with some Rockhampton Regional councillors, who have said it was like trying to do their job with both hands tied behind their back.

Mr Bauer gained support from the Liberal National Party following a meeting on Wednesday night, and Cr Glenda Mather is vowing to take the matter to the next Rockhampton council meeting.

However, Local Government Minister Paul Lucas said Mr Bauer clearly does not understand the Westminster System.

"To go back to the days where individual councillors instructed staff would be going back to the days of Joh Bjelke-Petersen," he said.

"What if a councillor issued one direction to council staff but another councillor issued a different direction?

"That's why the rules are in place."

LNP candidate for Keppel Bruce Young said this was not an issue confined to Rockhampton.

"There are councillors out there that are frustrated with the way the system is now," he said.

"The public perception (is) there are councillors out there that aren't relaying their concerns to the council but the fact of the matter is, the reporting scheme is so convoluted."

Mr Young said the system wasn't wrong, it just needed to be made better than what was there now.

Topics:  council councillors legislation mayor public servant

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