Changes for Local Government Act

CHANGES to the Local Government Act will ensure electors no longer are kept in the dark if no-one nominates for a local government seat.

This year the Local Government Minister was forced to handpick a councillor for the Tablelands Regional Council because no one nominated in a specific division.

The community were kept in the dark about the absence of nominations until the nomination period closed, when candidates for all Queensland councils were revealed and when it was too late for any Tablelands Regional Council resident to nominate.

The situation follows changes to the Local Government Act in 2008 which put council elections in the hands of the Electoral Commission of Queensland in an attempt to bring the process into line with State Government elections.

When the absence of a candidate for division six of the Tablelands Regional Council was revealed, 52 people submitted an expression of interests for the position.

"Nobody was aware there was a lack of people willing to do it," Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said.

It was the first time in Queensland's recorded history a local government minister had had to intervene and select a councillor.

But it was a situation the minister will legislate to avoid in the future.

Mr Crisafulli will change the Local Government Act to allow the publication of nominations as they occur during council elections.

"In the case of local councils, because it's such an important decision for the community, these names need to be scrutinised on these (nomination) boards," he said.

"When it becomes the role of the Minister (to choose) goes to the heart of everything I'm trying to breakdown, that is Brisbane controlling councils."

The Minister will also move to impose a by-election on a community if no nominations are received for a council division in the future.

While by-elections can be a very costly exercise, it is a small price to pay for democracy, Mr Crisafulli said.

The local government act changes will be a few in a legislative overhaul tipped to take place before the end of the year.

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