Consultation informs Local Government reforms

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Consultation informs Local Government reforms

The Palaszczuk Government is continuing to consult with stakeholders on its rolling Local Government reform agenda, with legislation expected to be introduced in State Parliament in coming weeks aimed at increasing transparency and accountability.

Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe said given the complex nature of some of the proposed reforms, the State Government will undertake further consultation ahead of the 2020 Local Government elections on some of the proposals.

“The Palaszczuk Government has a strong record when it comes to delivering increased transparency and accountability in Local Government,” he said.

“We’ve already delivered a ban on political donations from property developers, stronger conflict of increased provisions for councillors and a new Office of the Independent Assessor to deal with councillor complaints.

“These reforms are all informed by the CCC’s Operation Belcarra report, as are the additional reform measures under consideration.

“Stakeholders have made it clear there needs to be further consultation on a series of proposed reforms, and we’ve agreed to more discussions on some of the proposals.”

Mr Hinchliffe said the State Government had taken the decision to introduce Compulsory Preferential Voting (CPV) for Mayoral and divisional councillor elections, starting from the 2020 Local Government election.

This will align Local Government voting methodologies with State and Federal elections and avoid voter confusion.

“CPV ensures every vote counts – it elects the candidate preferred by a majority of voters, and is thus inherently more democratic,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Feedback received on proportional representation (PR) showed this change to the voting system would be too complex to introduce for the 2020 Local Government election.

“As a consequence, further consultation will be undertaken on PR, with the aim of introducing partial proportional representation for undivided councils at the 2024 Local Government election.”

Mr Hinchliffe said the State Government had also determined that expenditure caps for Councillors and candidates and public funding for elections requires further consultation.

“Similarly, expenditure caps will not be implemented to apply to the 2020 Local Government elections,” he said.

“And we will not be proceeding with dual candidacy arrangements, meaning candidates can only nominate as Mayor or councillor but not as both.”

Mr Hinchliffe said Stage 2 of State Government’s Belcarra reforms will now include:

  • Real time disclosure of electoral spending;
  • Further tightening of conflict of interest and material personal interest provisions;
  • Definition of a group of candidates;
  • Mandatory training for candidates and Councillors;
  • Dedicated campaign bank accounts – prohibiting the use of credit cards for campaign expenses;
  • Tightening of reporting of gifts; and
  • Changes to Mayoral powers.

Mr Hinchliffe said the State Government would continue to consult with stakeholders as part of its rolling local government reform agenda.