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Local Government is the most important election

An important guide to corruption in local government. Publisher is aptly named Bent Banana Books.

Qld Local Government Elections – 2020

Workers BushTelegraph believes that local government is the most important level of government in Australia. This is because local government delivers most of the important services to people – water, transport, roads, sewerage, development approvals. It’s a shame that local wards don’t have the right to veto over developments.

However since the 2016 local government elections in Queensland, a record number of Mayors and Councillors have been brought before the courts on corruption charges. This has led to a loss of trust in an important institution.

Only last week (15 Jan 2020) the industrial relations commission refused sacked Ipswich councillors protection under the unfair dismissal laws because they were not deemed to be employees:

Former Ipswich councillors seeking to be considered employees in a compensation bid after being swept out of the council when it was dissolved amid corruption and poor governance allegations have had their fight thrown out of a Queensland court. – Matt Dennien, Brisbane Times, January 15, 2020

The Queensland State Government has introduced reforms to address local government corruption in future. A major concern is the relationship between councillors and developers.

So what does it mean to be a councillor?
Councils operate under the Local Government Act. Brisbane City Council has its own special Act. There is a code of conduct for Councillors. Councillors are required to sign on to the code of conduct. Councillors must open a separate bank account provide a return to state government showing their personal financial interests (and that of their family).

Registers of interest

The state government has provided training modules on YouTube. There is a lot of talk about strategic leadership. WBT does not understand the hierarchical assumptions made in this course. Why can’t decisions be made collectively and not through a hierarchy? Why is the Mayor position made to be so powerful?

Conflict of Interest

Casino development conflict of interest

What do councillors get paid?
BCC councillors get about $160,000 per annum. Other councils may pay less.

Breach of Code of Conduct

Councillors are entitled to publicly oppose decisions made by council on the condition that they acknowledge that the decision was made by a majority. Interestingly an abstention is treated as a ‘No’ vote.

Councillors are not entitled to direct the council CEO, only the Mayor is allowed to do that.

Why is a CEO position necessary? Surely council workers are public servants not corporate bosses?

The mayor is required to attend citizenship ceremonies on Invasion Day 26 Jan 2020.

Are environmental concerns about the new casino in Brisbane in breach of code of conduct?

There are some major systemic issues with how local government operates in Queensland. Some of these are raised by the QLGRA – Queensland Local Government Reform Alliance .

There were calls for a local government royal commission (or something similar) into local government. So far government has responded with the Operation Belcarra: Reforming local government in Queensland. So far the Crime and Corruption Commission has looked at criminal activity which is very limited.

Ian Curr
19 Jan 2020

One response to “Local Government is the most important election

  1. Local Government Reform Alliance video

    The QLGRA has been very active around de-amalgamation issues. Here is a recording of one of their conferences about a year ago. This conference was before the major parts of Operation Belcarra was completed. The video includes a list of what the alliance wants. It is a long video but is included here so that people get an idea of what the concerns are.

    Like

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