Local govt given new freedoms
LOCAL governments will have more autonomy to make decisions for their communities without jumping bureaucratic hurdles following law reforms introduced into Parliament.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli introduced amendments to the Local Government Act into Parliament on Thursday afternoon after four months of consultation.
"It changes the culture of the paternalistic relationship between the state and local government to one of a partnership," he said.
"When you think that local government spends around 10% of its time and money on regulation you know that something is wrong.
"This removes the need for them to, every few years, report back to the state on their community plan.
"I want councils to be judged by their real bosses, who are the ratepayers of the shire..."
Under the changes, councils will be able to introduce interim local laws without community consultation.
When councils have settled on a new local law, they will be open to consult with the relevant state agencies without waiting months for the minister's sign off.
Councillors also will be able to nominate to run for State Parliament without having to resign from local government and will only have to leave council if they are successfully elected.
The legislation also will exempt councillors from declaring a conflict of interest at a meeting regarding an "ordinary business matter".
Mr Crisafulli said the conflict-of-interest amendment meant the majority of law-abiding councillors would be able to get on with their jobs.
"I think it's an absurdity that someone has to leave a room because their daughter is a Girl Guide and they are voting on a $50 donation to the local Girl Guide group," he said.
"But I want to focus our effort on the few bad seeds as well."
If a councillor was caught using inside information during proceedings, the State Government would come down on them "like a tonne of bricks", Mr Crisafulli warned.
Local Government Association of Queensland president Paul Bell said councils had been waiting a long time for the decentralisation of local government control.
Cr Bell said the legislation freed councils of the red tape and unnecessary regulation that had tied up day-to-day business of local government for so long.