Bell makes way for new ALGA president

The new young face of local government, Geoff Lake

By Angela Dorizas and Rachel Borchardt

Self-confessed “local government groupie” Paul Bell has stepped down as president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) following a four-year tenure. His successor is 28-year-old City of Monash councillor Geoff Lake (pictured).

Cr Lake, a practicing lawyer, served as vice president of ALGA and president of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) from 2004 to 2006. At age 22 he became Victoria’s youngest ever mayor. ALGA chief executive officer Adrian Beresford-Wylie said the election of Cr Lake was a “generational hand-over.”

Cr Lake’s vision is for local government to play a bigger role in responding to the global economic crisis through investing in local infrastructure, to raise the standard of council performance, reduce unnecessary red tape and ensure local government is an “active and intelligent contributor” of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s COAG reform agenda.

"I’m by no means sycophantic about local government. I despair the same way many Australians do when I hear of scandals involving elected councillors and I want to drive improvements in the sector’s performance," Cr Lake said.

"The community has a right to expect the highest levels of service from their council and I will work hard to promote and deliver reforms that strengthen confidence in local government."

Cr Lake praised his predecessor for promoting the interests of local government throughout his two terms as ALGA president.

“He has worked tirelessly, determinedly and effectively to secure substantial gains for councils across the nation,” Cr Lake said.

Under the ALGA constitution, Cr Bell was ineligible to stand for re-election. He told Government News that he would miss representing local councils and communities across Australia.

“I’ve enjoyed immensely my role as president of the ALGA,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed the challenges and the opportunities that have been given to me by representing at places like COAG – all of that has certainly been a great place to be.”

Cr Bell, who is a councillor from Emerald Shire in Queensland, will remain a member of the ALGA board and president of the Local Government Association of Queensland. He said he was looking forward to working with the new president.

“I am one of Australia’s biggest local government groupies – I just love our sphere of government and what it is able to achieve,” Cr Bell said.

“I’m just pleased that local government is going to play a greater and greater role in our federation in the future and that future, I think, will be well and truly in good hands with the new executive of the ALGA.”

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