By Angela Dorizas
Queensland Local Government Minister Desley Boyle has embarked on a five-day tour of New Zealand to see first-hand how community plans are building stronger councils.
Ms Boyle will meet with New Zealand Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, the Department of Internal Affairs and lobby groups.
Ms Boyle said community planning is the “next big step” in the state’s local government reform process.
“Community plans are not a ‘one size fits all’ project so it will be very instructive to see how councils of different sizes and capacities have devised plans to suit their communities,” she said.
“Long-term community plans have been an essential part of New Zealand’s local government sector since 2002 so in that respect they are definitely ahead of us but their knowledge will help us stay ahead of the rest of Australia.”
Ms Boyle is accompanied by representatives from the Local Government Association of Queensland, including president Paul Bell and executive director Greg Hoffman.
The delegation has already met with mayors and chief executives of district councils in Wellington, Hamilton and surrounding areas to learn how legislative expectations in community planning and community engagement can be met.
LGAQ executive director Greg Hoffman said the study tour had been a worthwhile experience for local government representatives.
“We certainly benefited in hearing from councils and government who are making changes to the model,” Mr Hoffman told Government News.
“The legislation in Queensland is broadly based on the New Zealand model, although it does have some changes.”
Mr Hoffman said New Zealand councils also shared the challenges they have faced in putting in place “very prescriptive” planning frameworks and complex oversight systems.
“Whilst there is value in having rigour in the planning process, there is a consensus [among New Zealand councils] that they need to wind that back a bit,” he said.
Mr Hoffman added that the inclusion of LGAQ representatives in the Queensland delegation demonstrated the “close and productive relationship” between State and local government in the planning reform process.
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