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Inside track: Local Government

24 February 2020

#Local Government

Dr Joseph Monaghan

Published by Dr Joseph Monaghan, Rachel Foo

Inside track: Local Government

The Local Government Bill 2019: Important changes set to take effect if enacted

The Local Government Bill 2019 was recently passed by the Lower House. If enacted, the Bill will come into force through a staged process, with the first suite of changes commencing on or before 1 July 2020.

The changes intended to be made centre around five broad themes:

  1. improving service delivery, incorporating better financial management and community engagement
  2. improving councillor conduct, with clearer standards of behaviour and conduct, mechanisms to address poor conduct, and minimum training requirements for candidates and councillors
  3. strengthening local democracy and direct accountability of council and councillors
  4. improving community confidence, by reforming the election process and candidate requirements, and increasing transparency
  5. fostering new relationships, by removing unnecessary Ministerial approvals and enabling collaboration with other government authorities and the community.

We outline the important changes below.

Collaboration and entrepreneurial powers

If the Bill is enacted, councils will be able to work collaboratively through joint delegated committees. The ability to form these committees allows councils to develop and share solutions and resources, which will be particularly beneficial in matters which cross municipal boundaries and in achieving consistency where councils’ involvement may overlap. This ability will also assist in procurement matters. Opportunities are able to be jointly considered and decisions and strategic plans made which take into account broader policy needs as well as the particular needs of each participating council.

The current ability of councils to exercise entrepreneurial powers will continue under an ability to participate in ‘beneficial enterprises’. In conjunction with an ability to collaborate effectively with other councils, participating in beneficial enterprises will allow councils to engage with the different levels of government and the private sector to achieve impactful outcomes.

Some existing requirements for Ministerial approvals and consents will also be removed, allowing councils greater ability to act and responsibility for their municipalities.

New plans and policies

Councils will be required to adopt a range of plans and policies, including a community engagement, a public transparency, a complaint, a recruitment, an expenses policy, and a financial, an asset, and a workforce plan. Further detail as to the matters to be addressed by these plans and policies is anticipated to be prescribed by regulations.

Budgets will be required to be prepared each financial year for the following four years, rather than the current financial year only. This brings council budgets in line with state government budgets and is intended to encourage longer-term vision. Financial and asset plans will also need to be prepared for 10-year periods.

The CEO

A CEO Employment and Remuneration Policy will also be required that is consistent with state government standards. This policy will be required to provide for independent professional advice to be obtained in relation to the matters contained in the policy as well as other matters to be prescribed by regulations.

CEOs may only be employed under a contract that does not exceed five years, although a CEO may be reappointed for a subsequent contract.

Delegations

Delegations will need to be given anew to ensure compliance with the new Act. If the Bill is enacted, delegations made by a CEO under the current Local Government Act will continue to apply until 1 September 2020.

Councillor misconduct

The Bill introduces standards of conduct to guide councillor behaviour, a process for appointment of a Principal Councillor Conduct Registrar, and a Councillor Conduct Panel process at VCAT to hear allegations of serious misconduct by councillors.

Subdivision of municipalities

It is proposed to move to a single consistent model of single member wards, unless it is impractical to subdivide a council into wards.

Voter enrolment change

The changes seek to make council electoral rolls more closely aligned with the state electoral roll.

We also refer you to our previous article on the Local Government Bill 2019 published in Inside track: Local Government.

Authors: Joseph Monaghan & Rachel Foo

In the media

What has the rain done to drought-affected towns running out of water?
With the falls described as a "huge relief", several towns and communities now have many more months' worth of water, but they are continuing to grapple with the unprecedented drought. ABC's analysis showed 55 towns across the country were facing the harsh reality of reaching 'day zero' for urban water supply well before the end of the year (15 February 2020).  More...

ALGA Federal Budget submission
The Australian Local Government Association’s submission for the 2020-21 Federal Budget outlines how funding at the local level can support the Commonwealth’s priorities of keeping the economy strong, and Australians safe and together (13 February 2020).  More...

Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants
Councils are encouraged to apply for their share of $10m in Federal Government grants when applications open on Monday 17 February. The Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants program has two funding streams. The first – aimed at local government authorities and regional tourism organisations – will support events, concerts, festivals and visitor attractions in fire affected areas (13 February 2020).  More...

More federal money for bushfire-hit councils
On 13 February, the Federal Government announced an additional $17m for the 60 Local Governments in bushfire-affected areas. The grants range from $200,000 to $416,667 and are in addition to the funds the Federal Government announced on 9 January for these 60 councils in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland (13 February 2020).  More...

80 per cent of waste levies not reinvested in recycling
Only eight per cent of the almost $2.7 billion collected in waste levies over the last two years is being reinvested into recycling infrastructure and technology, according to an analysis of recycling grants by the peak resource recovery body (13 February 2020).  More...

Report finds government lags in digital leadership
The survey by IT service management company Gartner gathered data from 1,070 CIOs in 64 countries across major industries, including 130 from local, state and national government agencies. It found governments are less likely to have clear business strategies and are falling down when it comes to anticipating change or recognising opportunities, and that government IT leaders are struggling to articulate the value of information technology (10 February 2020).  More...

'Pure bastardry': Anger from NSW Government, river council over Queensland water rules
A row breaks out between the NSW and Queensland over whether northern irrigators should be allowed to harvest potential river flows (07 February 2020).  More...

Queensland

Ridong Group's $160m Garden Resort in limbo
Ridong, and one of the original developers for Jewel resort in Surfers Paradise, put forth the application for the wellness retreat in September 2018. Council officers raised a number of concerns at an Economy, Planning and Environment Committee meeting, including applicant has not demonstrated a ‘need’ for the development to be located at the subject site (12 February 2020).  More...

Brisbane townhouse ban to be finalised at council meeting
A ban on townhouses in Brisbane's low-density suburbs is expected to be given final approval by Brisbane City Council, despite the state government expressing strong reservations. The ban will extend to townhouses and apartments in low-density-zoned suburbs (11 February 2020).  More...

Planning & Development Committee recommends adopting Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme Amendment No.17
Toowoomba Regional Council’s Planning and Development Committee today recommended adopting an amendment to the Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme relating to the region-wide management of flood risk (11 February 2020).  More...

Additional disaster assistance for more flood-impacted Queensland communities
Disaster assistance is now available to the Boulia, Cloncurry, Cook, Mount Isa, Palm Island and Richmond local councils after the recent monsoon and flooding across Northern, Central and Western Queensland (10 February 2020).  More...

From today, more koala habitat will be protected by stronger regulations
From today, the Palaszczuk Government is increasing protections for koalas in South East Queensland, with strict new planning regulations to protect koala habitats (07 February 2020).  More...

Don't be deceived: rain is falling, but this 'green drought' is far from over
Stanthorpe is one several towns across Australia that have officially run out of water, with the local dam running dry weeks ago (06 February 2020).  More...

Council awarded for using plain English
Queensland’s Logan City Council is the first in Australia to be awarded a gold standard for using plain language in its recent website redesign. Certification means an applicant has met a range of standards relating to clarity, readability, and communication, as well taking the needs of the user into consideration (06 February 2020).  More...

In practice and courts

ALGA: 2020 – 21 Budget Submission
The 537 Councils in Australia have a fundamental role in achieving economic prosperity, social well-being and liveability in our metropolitan, regional and rural communities. Local governments have a demonstrated track record of working effectively in partnership with the Commonwealth Government and have a presence in almost every part of the country (13 February 2020).  More...

Have your say on the Draft Heavy Vehicle Productivity Plan 2020-2025
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has released the Draft Heavy Vehicle Productivity Plan 2020-2025. A copy of the draft Heavy Vehicle Productivity Plan 2020-2025 can be found here. The final plan will incorporate an action plan with performance measurements and targets and is expected to be released in mid-2020. The plan and the submission process is available on the NHVR website here. Submissions must be submitted by 13 March 2020.

Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts: Telecommunications in new developments review
In light of recent and upcoming changes in the provision of telecommunications in new developments, the Department is undertaking a review of the Telecommunications in New Developments (TIND) Policy, and has released a discussion paper Review of the 2015 TIND Policy, The Department is aiming to complete the review of the 2015 TIND Policy and make any necessary changes before 1 July 2020. 

Have your say: Bushfire Inquiries
The NSW and Australian governments have announced inquiries into the recent bushfires. The NSW Government’s independent expert inquiry will report on the 2019-20 bushfire season to provide input to NSW ahead of the next bushfire season. The NSW Inquiry will also be travelling to bushfire affected communities. Visit the Inquiry page for the Terms of Reference. Submissions close 27 March 2020.
House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Energy has announced an Inquiry into the efficacy of past and current vegetation and land management policy, practice and legislation and their effect on the intensity and frequency of bushfires and subsequent risk to property, life and the environment. Submissions close on 31 March. A Senate Inquiry has also been established

Queensland

Queensland Government Disaster Assistance: Councils
12/02/2020 Disaster assistance for more flood-impacted communities in North Queensland
Disaster assistance is now available to the Burke, Croydon, Kowanyama, McKinlay and Mornington councils
10/02/2020 Additional disaster assistance for more flood-impacted Queensland communities
Disaster assistance is now available to the Boulia, Cloncurry, Cook, Mount Isa, Palm Island and Richmond local councils after the recent monsoon and flooding across Northern, Central and Western Queensland.
06/02/2020 Disaster assistance for more flood-impacted communities in Queensland
Disaster assistance has been extended to the Carpentaria, Flinders and Winton Councils

CCC investigations
07 February 2020  No corrupt conduct identified in Moreton Bay Regional Council’s agreement with Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT)

LGAQ: Have your say: Amendments to Queensland’s building laws and security of payment legislation
Member councils are invited to provide feedback on amendments including a range of reforms of significance to local government by COB Friday, 21 February 2020 (10 February 2020).  More...

LGAQ: Mandatory Asbestos Training for council officers
Authorised officers appointed by the local government CEO under the Public Health Act 2005, section 377 and empowered to issue a public health order are required to complete this training as a condition of asbestos related indemnity. Register your interest now for April workshops (03 February 2020).  More...

LGAQ: Review of the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act 2017
The Office of the Coordinator-General is leading the review and will be engaging with councils and key stakeholders from the end of January to May 2020.  More...

LGAQ: Key events for Queensland councils in 2020
Events for March – October 2020 are outlined here. Keep an eye on the events page which will be updates as more events are confirmed in the calendar

OIC Decisions
07/02/2020 Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Whitsunday deputy mayor decision

Gold Coast City Plan amendments: consultation 2nd round
A second round of consultation is being undertaken on proposed amendments to the Gold Coast City Plan. The changes aim to incorporate feedback from the first round of consultation. Major changes from the amendments proposed during the initial round of consultation have been made in the following areas: Height and Density; Built form and Urban Design; targeted growth areas; Growth and diversification of employment; Environmental mapping; Land use changes and alignment approvals. If you would like to find out more about the proposed amendments or provide feedback, please click here.

Brisbane City Council: Draft Central Park Masterplan
The draft plan is now out for public consultation following the release of five creative concepts from architecture and planning firms last year. The Victoria Park concept plan is now open to the public until April 28 on the Brisbane City Council’s website.

Have your say: future of South Bank
The Palaszczuk Government is encouraging people to have their say on the future of the South Bank precinct, with the roll out of public consultation on the master plan. The master plan would build on the precinct’s iconic features, while harnessing new ideas. It is expected the master plan process will be completed by the end of 2020.  More...

Report - No. 45, 56th Parliament - Implementation of The Spit Master Plan Bill 2019
Tabled 07 February 2020 - The committee's findings from its examination of the Implementation of The Spit Master Plan Bill 2019. State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee - Report No. 45, 56th Parliament - Implementation of The Spit Master Plan Bill 2019 inquiry.  More...

Legislation

Queensland
Implementation of The Spit Master Plan Bill 2019
Introduced by: Hon C Dick MP on 26/11/2019
Stage reached: 2nd reading to be moved on 7/02/2020

Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2019
Introduced by: Hon Y D'Ath MP on 28/11/2019
Stage reached: 2nd reading to be moved on 7/02/2020

Electoral Legislation (Political Donations) Amendment Bill 2018
Introduced by: Mr M Berkman MP on 16/05/2018
Stage reached: 2nd reading adjourned on 4/02/2020

Subordinate legislation as made
This Regulation is made under the Environmental Offsets Act 2014, Nature Conservation Act 1992, Planning Act 2016, and Vegetation Management Act 1999. The Regulation amends four pieces of subordinate legislation associated with the regulation of koala habitat areas and koala priority areas: Environmental Offsets Regulation 2014, Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2017, Planning Regulation 2017, and Vegetation Management Regulation 2012 (07 February 2020).

Subordinate legislation as made – reminder
This Proclamation fixes the following dates for the commencement of a number of remaining provisions: 30 March 2020. To improve transparency and public accountability of local government elections in line with State and Commonwealth electoral and governance frameworks  

Disclaimer
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

Dr Joseph Monaghan

Published by Dr Joseph Monaghan, Rachel Foo

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