How many division councillors does the Redlands community need?

Redland City’s mayor and division councillors are set to get a 3% pay rise from 1 July 2023.

This pay increase will lift the direct cost of employing Redland City’s elected officials to about $1,650,000 per year. This figure includes salaries, superannuation, reimbursement of expenses and provision of transport to the mayor and ten division councillors.

It’s an opportune time to discuss reducing the number of divisional councillors and perhaps changing the method of their election, given that:

  • Redland City has south east Queensland’s highest rates and charges;
  • Some comparable local councils have fewer division councillors;
  • Redland City Council has fewer statutory meetings each year than most other councils of similar size;
  • Redland City Council appears to be dysfunctional with a huge number of seemingly vexatious complaints being raised by councillors against each other; and
  • A redistribution of Redland City’s electoral boundaries is likely to start soon, ahead of the next local government elections in March 2024.

Redlands ratepayers could save $500,000 per year and improve the City’s governance by restructuring from ten single-councillor divisions to three two-councillor divisions.

Comparing local councils

We have compared Redland City with eight other local government areas, four larger and four smaller as measured by estimated resident population.

This comparison shows a significant difference in the average number of residents that each division councillor is elected to represent, ranging from 10,012 in Bundaberg to 29,163 in Ipswich City.

The majority of these local government areas have ten divisional councillors but some have fewer including the reformed Ipswich City Council with eight, Cairns with nine and Rockhampton with seven. Some even smaller local government areas such as Noosa (with a population of 56,873 people) have just six divisional councillors.

Each local council’s annual report includes details of the number of statutory meetings which took place during the year. These include general meetings, special meetings and committee meetings. All of these meetings are governed by transparency provisions of the Local Government Act including rules about publication of agendas and minutes together with requirements for elected officials to declare conflicts of interest.

Most of the councils included in this comparison had more statutory meetings in 2021/22 than Redland City Council – Bundaberg is the only Council with fewer meetings.

Local Government AreaPopulation at 30 June 2021Divisional CouncillorsPeople per divisional councillorStatutory Meetings in 2021/22
Ipswich233,302829,16388
Townsville195,5151019,55269
Toowoomba175,3161017,53297
Cairns169,312918,81239
Redlands161,7301016,17315
Mackay123,1831012,31823
Fraser Coast112,0781011,20818
Bundaberg 100,1181010,01213
Rockhampton82,904711,84345
Redlands compared with similar-sized local government areas

Election of division councillors

At present Redland City Council has ten division councillors each elected from a separate division.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Toowoomba, Gladstone and Noosa councils each have a single division.

Since it was reformed, Ipswich City Council has four divisions which each elect two divisional councillors.

Having fewer divisions might reduce the amount of ratepayers money wasted on pork barrelling and encourage more focus on governing in the city-wide public interest.

Multi-representative divisions might also improve residents’ access to effective representation. All too often we hear from dissatisfied residents describing ‘their’ division councillor as “useless”.

To start a conversation, Redlands2030 is proposing that the State Government consult with the community about changes to Redland City Council including the option of having six division councillors elected from three divisions which could broadly align with the three current state parliament electorates.

This restructure would save ratepayers direct costs of more than $500,000 per year.

The number of residents per division councillor would increase from 16,173 to 29,163. This would be in line with the 29,163 residents per division councillor at Ipswich City but keep in mind that Ipswich’s population is growing much more rapidly than Redlands.

Larger local government areas such as Brisbane City, Gold Coast City and Moreton Bay Region each have more than 40,000 residents per council division.

Having fewer councillors and multiple member divisions should be investigated before any electoral redistribution.

Mayor and division councillors’ pay

The pay levels for mayors and councillors in Queensland are set by the Local Government Remuneration Commission chaired by former Noose Shire Mayor Bob Abbott.

In its report setting pay rates for the 2023/24 financial year, the Commission determined that elected officials in larger local government areas should get a 3% pay rise. But elected officials in local government areas with a population less than 60,000, where salary levels are lower, will get a 4% increase.

Mayors and councillors get a 12% superannuation contribution funded by ratepayers, in addition to their salaries.

So the effect of the recent pay determination for Redland City’s mayor and other councilllors will be as shown below, unless councillors vote in the next few months to not have a pay increase.

2022/232023/24Increase
Mayor’s salary$186,806$192,410$5,604
Mayor’s salary plus 12% superannuation$209,223$215,499$6,276
Deputy mayor’s salary$127,366$131,187$3,821
Deputy mayor’s salary plus 12% superannuation$142,650$146,929$4,280
Division councillors’ salary$110,386$113,698$3,312
Division councillors’ salary plus 12% superannuation$123,632$127,342$3,709
Salaries and superannuation for Redland City’s mayor and other councillors

Transport and expenses for councillors

In addition to salary and superannuation, Redland City Council has a policy for giving the mayor and division councillors reimbursement of expenses and provision of facilities, including transport. Amounts disclosed in the Council’s 2021/22 Annual Report are shown below.

ExpensesTransportTotal
MayorKaren Williams$4,456$13,028.42$17,484.61
Division 1Wendy Boglary$4,133.17$2,904.95$7,038.12
Division 2Peter Mitchell$5,806.69$11,471.50$17,278.19
Division 3Paul Gollè$3,648.64$9,863.01$13,511.65
Division 4Lance Hewlett$738.02$10,436.22$11,174.24
Division 5Mark Edwards$401.86$10,969.20$11,371.06
Division 6Julie Talty$8,429.91$8,153.03$16,582.94
Division 7Rowanne McKenzie$7,760.26$11,267.64$19,027.90
Division 8Tracey Huges$7,021.87$4,794.05$11,815.92
Division 9Adelia Berridge$3,854.15$4,395.97$8,250.12
Division 10Paul Bishop$5,264.09$9,098.10$14,362.19
Total$51,514.85$96,382.09$147,896.94
Expenses and Transport disclosed in Redland City Council’s 2021/22 Annual Report

Boundaries for division councillors

The division boundaries used for the 2020 Redland City Council elections are shown below. If the estimated populations of any division is likely to be more than +/- 10% of the average figure, then the Electoral Commission of Queensland is required to do an electoral redistribution.

Boundaries for election of division councillors at the 2020 local government elections in Redland City

Redlands2030 – 12 January 2023

0 thoughts on “How many division councillors does the Redlands community need?”

  1. Redlands city council does not represent all constituents equally for years division 5 has been under funded and lacking infrastructure the rates from the islands has been used to develop the mainland

  2. I live in Capalaba, post code 4157, Division 9, some years ago suddenly changed without notice to Div 7, Alexandra Hills Cr. different post code. Area is off Finucane Rd w entry Elmhurst St from Ingham St down to Crotona Rd on Coolnwynpin Ck to Moreton Bay Rd bridge Capalaba. Area has two neighborhood parks neither of which has ever seen Div 7 councillor take an interest in upgrading. Personally resurrected with 1st elected mayor’s approval, Chantelle Crt Park, adjacent to TAFE, beginning 1986 to present day. Second park is by creek on Crotona Rd between Sagamore & Tremont Sts. neglected, no infrastructure for decades apart from swings, slide & hoop. .My suggestion, to save money, since Capalaba has THREE councillors, reduce number to TWO, return these two parks to Div 9. I noted: Population mid-2021, Ipswich, 233,302, Redlands 161,730. Ipswich 8 Crs. Redlands 10. People per Div Cr. Ipswich 29,163. Redlands, 16,173. Statutory meetings 2021/22, Ipswich 88. Redlands 15. We need, urgently, to see changes made in electoral divisions where all ratepayers, regardless of where they live, get a ‘fair deal’ in being heard, + providing infrastructure that enables young and old to enjoy their local park environment.

  3. Surveys have shown that between 85% and 90% of the residents of the Redlands believe that Redland City Council has performed poorly over the past 4 years and it is time for change, not only the Mayor but many of the councillors who ignore the wishes of the residents and support ill-conceived development plans such as the sale of the 198-space car park in Doig St Cleveland CBD, the sale of another carpark in Wynyard St CBD opposite Coles and more recently the attempted sale of the Cleveland Station Carpark. The current Mayor has favoured all of these ill-conceived sales and many councillors just fall in behind her as though they cannot think for themselves. Now business owners in Cleveland CBD are quite upset about the lack of customer parking and furthermore, tree clearing laws in crucial koala areas have been weakened. In some cases you do not even require permission to cut down mature gum trees in known koala corridors and the presence of an accredited wildlife animal person is only “recommended.” Let’s all remember the poor performance of Redland City Council at the next council election in March 2024. Hopefully the current mayor, who is currently on a junket trip to the USA and Vancouver, will be long gone by then. That is just my own personal opinion.

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