Publications / Planning and Environment
On 13 September 2012, the Local Government and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 (Bill) was introduced into the Queensland Parliament. Some minor changes were subsequently made to the Bill when it was read for a second time. These changes reflect some of the recommendations made by the Transport, Housing and Local Government Parliamentary Committee (Parliamentary Committee) following consideration of submissions from various stakeholders.
On 13 November 2012, the Queensland Legislative Assembly passed the Bill and it received royal assent on 22 November 2012 as an Act. Some provisions will commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation.
This edition of Focus will deal with the changes made to the Bill as they relate to the Local Government Act 2009 (Qld) (Act).
Our Focus circulated on 17 September 2012 summarises the amendments that that the Bill originally proposed to the Act.
Changes to the Bill
Some of the more significant changes to the Bill include:
- delaying the commencement of the provisions relating to local government re-corporatisation. This will allow the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and the Local Government Association of Queensland an opportunity to ensure local governments (who are now bodies corporate) fall within the State industrial relations system
- clarifying that a Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) total remuneration package is to be reported in Council’s annual report, but the reporting of the exact salary of the CEO or other senior executive employees is not required
- omitting the requirement for a Torres Strait Island Regional Council councillor (including a mayor) to be living in that area, and
- enabling councillors to seek information from Council employees, irrespective of whether the information relates to their own ward or division.
Parliamentary Committee recommendations not endorsed
The Queensland Government did not give effect to all recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee. Some of the recommendations that were not endorsed include:
- amending the ‘party house’ provisions of the Bill to ensure that local governments have powers to penalise whoever is responsible for any regular noise or anti-social behaviour instead of just the owner of the property as is proposed by the Bill. The Queensland Government considered it to be sufficient for the Act to allow local governments to pass local laws that could have the same effect as the Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation
- deleting the proposed clause in the Bill which states that ‘a councillor does not have a material personal interest in the matter if the councillor has no greater personal interest in the matter than that of other persons in the local government area’
- incorporating more guidelines for the preliminary assessment of complaints by the CEO and the departmental Director-General in the Bill. Although the Queensland Government did not support this recommendation, it was acknowledged that if CEOs require further clarification in this respect, draft administrative guidelines may be prepared by the Department of Local Government to assist
- in the alternative, requiring either:
- the deletion of the clause in the Bill which provides that the mayor is to present the budget to the other councillors, or
- the extension of the length of time permitted to a councillor to review the budget from two weeks (as is provided for in the Bill) to at least four weeks
- amending the clause in the Bill which enables the mayor to direct senior executive employees as well as the CEO so that the mayor is only able to direct the CEO. In rejecting this recommendation, the Queensland Government encouraged local governments to have administrative arrangements in place to ensure all instances of contact from a mayor are conveyed promptly to the CEO, and
- retaining the requirements for the CEO to keep and publish a record of mayoral directions. The Queensland Government considered the removal of these requirements would remove unnecessary ‘red tape’ and reflects the fact that a majority of local governments do not, in practice, maintain such a record.
The Bill having now taken effect as an Act, introduces significant changes to Queensland’s local government system, particularly in relation to the elevation of the role of a Mayor and Councillors.
The Government is also proposing to merge the three existing local government regulations into one.
Watch this space for further updates on the changes that the ‘super regulation’ will introduce.
Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.