New council laws are welcomed

NEW changes to the laws governing council operations throughout Queensland have been welcomed locally by Gympie Region Mayor Ron Dyne and statewide by the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Cr Dyne says the new rules usher in two major sets of reforms, some related to financial sustainability and some linked to openness and accountability.

“They are intended to improve long term council strategic planning and decisions on resources allocation, sustainability and performance monitoring,” Cr Dyne said.

“Others are related to governance issues linked to openness and accountability.

“The first set of reforms will commence within this term of local authorities in Queensland, but they will take up to a decade to be fully implemented.

“The second set, which focus on council and councillor behaviour will have an immediate impact.

“The new Act also commits council to adopting a long term community plan, with a term of a minimum of 10 years, by December 1, 2011.

“Councils are required to develop 10-year financial strategies and 10-year asset management strategies and to develop formal policies for community engagement in council decisions as soon as possible.

“Councils are also required to develop annual reporting procedures on six key performance indicators,” Cr Dyne said.

LGAQ executive director Greg Hallam said the changes would “boost communities' confidence in their councils considerably”.

“The State Government and Local Government Minister Desley Boyle have worked hard to produce reforms which will relieve community concerns about councils' sustainability and long-term planning.

“Community trust in their councils will also be improved by reforms to governance, openness and accountability,” he said.

“When Cr Paul Bell became LGAQ president in 2004, one of his first moves was to call on the State Government to institute a new Local Government Act to cater for a myriad of changes in the local government operating environment.

“Cr Bell has continued to push for this new Act. The best aspect of the new laws is that they are in the public interest,” Mr Hallam said.

The changes also include strengthened conflict of interest requirements, he said.

Gympie Times

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