Welcome back Bligh and Boyle, now cough up: LGAQ

By Angela Dorizas

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has congratulated Premier Anna Bligh on her election win, but will not back down on its campaign for the State Government to cover amalgamation costs.

In the lead up to the Queensland election, LGAQ released its own ten-point plan for local government policy.

LGAQ president Cr Paul Bell said the sector was pleased with election commitments made on a number of issues included in the ten-point plan, such as opposition to the landfill levy, the continuation of grants and subsidies, no limitations on shared services and ensuring development application assessments remain a responsibility of elected members.

The major disappointment, however, was that the Bligh campaign refused to cover local governments’ amalgamation costs.

“We have been seeking up to $150 million for those councils that were amalgamated in regards to the expenses and costs that we believe are part of the amalgamation process,” Cr Bell told Government News, adding that the sector would continue its campaign.

“We see it as a forced reform and we believe the State Government should pick up the tab.

“We’re not going to take the pressure off the Government. It was their process, they introduced it, they certainly promoted it and executed it and any extra costs should not be a burden on the ratepayers.”

The new agenda

Cr Bell welcomed the return of former Tourism Minister Desley Boyle to the local government portfolio.

“Desley Boyle was Local Government Minister during the Beattie years and is in her own right a former councillor from Cairns City,” he said.

“She knows our sphere of government very well.”

The LGAQ will urge the Minister to prioritise the rollout of the new Local Government Act to complete the reform process.

“The Act was in Parliament in its final stages prior to the election being called,” Cr Bell said.

“We have undertaken two years of significant consultation and a lot of good work in regards to the development of the act. We wouldn’t like to see it delayed now with a new minister.”

LGAQ said it would also seek the continued support from the Bligh Government in the national campaign for constitutional recognition of local govenrment.

In the run up to the election, local government received strong support from the Liberal-National Party (LNP) on the issue of constitutional recognition and was even promised double entrenchment of local government in the Queensland Constitution.

Cr Bell said local government had also received very strong support from the Bligh Government and expected that would continue.

“History shows that Minister Boyle has been a very strong supporter of local government reform, as she was the Minister that pursued the Intergovernmental Agreement on behalf of local government in Queensland,” Cr Bell said.

“We think we are in a good place to pursue the support of Minister Boyle for constitutional recognition of local government.”

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