Have your say on local government reforms

Queensland Parliament is considering reforms to local government recommended by the Crime and Corruption Commission CCC)

State Parliament is considering local government reforms including a ban on political donations from property developers

Over the next few days Queenslanders can have their say about new laws to ban political donations from property developers and better regulate how  local councillors deal with conflicts of interest.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk introduced legislation to Parliament on 12 October.

The proposed new laws are in response to recommendations from the Crime and Corruption Commission CCC) set out in its report: Operation Belcarra – A blueprint for integrity and addressing corruption risk in local government.

The legislation being considered by Parliament is the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017.

The proposed new laws are now being reviewed in an inquiry by Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee which has invited submissions from the public by 26 October.

Proposed reforms

The Explanatory Notes say that the policy objectives of the proposed new laws are to:

  • Reinforce integrity and minimise corruption risk that political donations from property developers has potential to cause at both a state and local government level
  • Improve transparency and accountability in state and local government
  • Strengthen the legislative requirements that regulate how a councillor must deal with a real or perceived conflict of interest or a material personal interest.

But the devil is in the details and it’s the details which are being examined by the Committee.

Things to think about

With any law making, some things to think about include:

  • What activity is being required, or made unlawful?
  • What is the penalty for non-compliance?
  • How will the law be enforced?

Will the new laws achieve their policy objective, or will there be loopholes which can be exploited?

Redland City Council and it’s workshops

One of the CCC’s recommendations is that it be an offence for the councillor to influence or attempt to influence any decision by another councillor or a council employee in relation to that matter at any point after the matter appears on an agenda for a council meeting.

But prior to formal consideration of matters at public meetings, Redland City councillors routinely discuss development applications at non public ‘workshops’ and other non public meetings of councillors which would not be covered by the CCC’s recommendations.

This was discussed in some detail in a recent Redlands2030 story:

Mayors and ethics: a tale of two cities

For reforms to deal effectively with local government in the Redlands, this offence should be written more broadly to stop any conflicted councillor from having anything to do with a matter involving a donor.

Some developers won’t be banned

Queensland is proposing to copy laws which have operated in NSW for some time. But this is likely to mean that some developers are not banned from making donations, as discussed in a recent Redlands2030 story:

Why did Karen Williams get a $5,000 gift?

Making a submission

The closing date for written submissions is Thursday, 26 October 2017 at 2:00pm.

Guidelines for making a submission to a parliamentary committee are available here:  Guide to making a submission.

The guidelines explain that the Committee may at its discretion publish submissions on the parliamentary website.

Publication or disclosure of a submission that has not been authorised by a committee might not be protected by Parliamentary privilege.

Submissions should be sent to:

Email: mailto:lacsc@parliament.qld.gov.au

Acting Committee Secretary
Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee
Parliament House
George Street
Brisbane Qld 4000

Submissions should include:

  • the author’s name and signature
  • if the submission is made on behalf of an organisation, the level of approval (e.g. a local branch, executive committee or national organisation)
  • mailing address (and email if available), and
  • daytime telephone number

Redlands2030 – 16 October 2017

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

4 thoughts on “Have your say on local government reforms

  1. The Amy Glade listings certainly tackle a lot of important surface issues, but will they will be captured by this process remains to be seen without whistleblowers suffering ?
    The issue Redlands2030 has previously hit is the changing face of Governance in Local Authorities, and it varies across Queensland.
    While the CCC has laid some recent charges in Ipswich , the rorts on interstate dumping and what is in the 8 dumps , examination of ; flooding, land development approvals , Council Companies , Offsets , and Governance mentioned by 4 corners and elsewhere is missing at 2 other levels of government. The 2 year police investigation into Noosa Council -Operation Northcrest ? has been pigeonholed. The mechanisms are arguably in place to avoid the proposed legislation .

    The underbelly to all this is missing from the proposed legislation and is governance change in Local Authorities and the deleterious LNP changes to the Local Government Act, Planning /EDQ(plus Trad)and Environment Acts . The list of issues has some State Government directives costing the Environment and Ratepayers, but it is extensive and is also generated from within . The secrecy, loss of access and reporting confounds the ability to repair and reform, particularly Toondah Harbour.

  2. Reinforce integrity and minimise corruption? Wouldn’t we all like to see that in Redland City Council? In being asked by local resident if I had ever attended a council meeting, having attended one herself, spoke of seeing councillors doing their best to REVERSE past decisions….which may explain in part, why RCC sold protected koala/wildlife corridors, decided to remove sign from a Reserve purchased with new environmental levy by 1st Mayor Eddie, consisting of two blocks…one for children’s playground, the other to remain as a bushland block for benefit of local community in a concreted environment. Thankfully, sign returned, and today cared for by council.
    Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett (CM Oct17) speaks of a lack of vision by Australia’s political leaders holding the country back. Not only a federal malaise but rampant in state and local politics as well. There is no vision of a successful and prosperous future, just a panoply of petty issues to be squabbled over in desultory sessions by a chorus line of lacklustre individuals pushing their own barrows of interest. One Brendale resident says.. ‘it’s time for change and if anything has been learned over the past decade of political point-scoring and turmoil, it is the need for strong government with a majority party in power and an agenda for the future…hoping voters can deliver at the next election or face a future of diminishing returns. Another Brisbane resident states that ‘politicians seem to only care about what will get them elected at next election, thus extending their ‘gravy train’ perks, not what is good for the country and can’t understand why a country of about 25 million people needs so many politicians, who do nothing but ‘rubber stamp’ whatever their party dictates’.
    Isn’t this what we have been seeing in Redlands for decades? We had the ‘Seccombe six’ regime followed by the present ‘Williams Six’ council… where five councillors elected by tax/ratepayers to look after matters of concern in their respective divisions, but seemingly silenced in doing so effectively giving we, the people, no voice. This then explains why former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke keeps telling us that we are over-governed and either State or local governments should be dispensed with to free up moneys for important community projects that would result in seeing less local government corruption where deals are done behind the scenes with popular developers (as stated to me during a meeting by councillor, after which I never again attempted to speak up on behalf of my local community) with deep pockets that won’t change in my view since ‘all of us can be bought’.

  3. Do not stop there Liz. Did you include Council staff doing other simultaneous jobs as consultants in other Local Authorities or for other consultants . What are other ex politicians and ex Mayors doing
    running other quangos and Boards?

  4. In the proposed laws on controlling developer donations to local governments I will make a submission to say that there should also be a ban on councillors taking jobs or consultancies with developers for four years after they leave council. If possible under the legislation this should also apply to council officers.

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