Council to speak up at 124th LGAQ Conference

Redland City Council will use October’s Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) conference to advocate for several key issues on behalf of the community, including encouraging more respectful debate in parliament, clearer planning outcomes and regional recognition for local islands.

Mayor Karen Williams said the full list of motions, which were supported unanimously at today’s general meeting, to be tabled at the LGAQ’s 124th annual conference on the Gold Coast from October 19-21, 2020 were:
• Local Governments’ Powers to Conduct Elections
• Regulated Dog Management Review
• More Respectful Debate in Parliament
• Asset Sustainability Ratio
• Prescriptive Planning
• Regional Funding

“While the community expects political debate to be robust, they also expect it to be respectful, which is why we will use this year’s LGAQ conference to advocate for more respectful debate in State and Federal Parliament,” Cr Williams said.

“We will also be again advocating for a less complex and more easily understood State Government planning system that is easier for the community to understand and meets their expectations.

“Council has long argued that the current performance-based planning system allows too much flexibility in how the overall outcomes of relevant codes are achieved, creating uncertainty within the community.

“To provide the certainty the community has been crying out for and in response to concerns about small lots, Council previously tried to cap minimum lot sizes through our 2018 city plan, but were advised by the State Government that we can’t under the current planning regime.

“This is a perfect example of how the current State Government planning legislation is letting down the community. Residents have the right to know what will be built in their neighbourhoods and so we are calling on the State Government to provide that clarity.”

Cr Williams said Redland City Council also supported continued local government efforts to lobby the State Government to review the Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008.

“The current Act has limitations and inefficient processes for reviewing regulated dog declarations and destruction orders, particularly in instances following a serious dog attack,” Cr Williams said.

“In recognition of the significant community safety risks, Council seeks to strengthen the conditions around keeping a regulated dog, establish offence categories for dog attacks, ensure victims are supported and provide clarity on enclosure guidelines.”

Redland City Council will also present a case to the LGAQ Conference for better recognition and financial support for regional challenges.

“Council has long advocated for our island communities to be considered regional under State Government funding allocations – in recognition of their unique social, economic and isolation issues compared with the rest of the city,” Cr Williams said.

“As at the 2016 Census, the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI) had an unemployment rate of 16.5% compared with the Queensland average of 7.2%. In addition, the SMBI youth unemployment rate was 32.2%, compared with 13.9% statewide.

“Recent figures also show a large number of JobSeeker and JobKeeper applications from the Redlands Coast islands, which also topped the list for employment vulnerability according to research from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales.”

Cr Williams said that 13.5% of SMBI residents required assistance due to a severe or profound disability, compared with a state total of 5.2%. A quarter of SMBI residents were aged between 60 and 69, while across Queensland the total was 10.7%.

“The State Government has a number of regional funding programs designed to support regional Local Government Areas,” Cr Williams said.

“However, these programs exclude south-east Queensland councils, such as Redlands.”

Cr Williams said Council would also move a motion to amend the Local Government Electoral Act 2011 to give local governments the discretion to conduct elections either in-house or engage a suitable contractor.

“Consensus of opinion and evidence supports the motion that local returning officers provided a better service to the community than the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ), which has been conducting all local government elections since 2008,” Cr Williams said.

“Election costs under the ECQ have more than doubled, however ECQ has had significant performance failures, instances of administrative errors and considerable delays in declaring results.

“A change to the Act would enable local governments to save costs where practical, while having greater control over service delivery, transparency, probity and timely release of results to the community.

“Additionally, many local government areas – including Redlands – cover rural sectors, remote areas or islands. The Act should be amended to provide local governments with the discretion to choose the most appropriate polling method for their area, including postal ballot.”

Cr Williams and Division 7 Councillor Rowanne McKenzie will be Council’s official delegates at the LGAQ Conference, which will bring together delegates from all tiers of government, external stakeholders and the media to consider the challenges facing local governments and their communities.

Other Councillors are able to attend as observers.