The recently published discussion paper outlines reforms that are designed to strengthen the transparency, accountability and integrity of local government in Queensland.
The Belcarra Report found that good government requires elections to be held on a level playing field, with equal participation available to all.
Belcarra also stressed the need for complete transparency about who candidates are, how their campaigns are funded, and their interests and affiliations – along with their relationships with other candidates.
The proposed reforms were informed by the Belcarra Report and extensive consultation between the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs and stakeholders like OSCAR and include:
- Compulsory preferential voting;
- Compulsory candidate training;
- Proportional representation in undivided councils;
- Tighter regulation of discretionary funds;
- Changes to mayoral powers;
- Campaign spending caps; and
- Clarification of Conflict of Interest/Material Personal Interest provisions.
In addition to the proposed reforms in the Bill, the Government is proposing to also make amendments to particular Regulations to further improve council integrity, increase transparency, encourage diversity and ensure consistency in the local government system.
The regulation changes will tighten controls around the issues councils may discuss in closed meetings and ensure resolutions and minutes have enough information for the community to understand why councils have made decisions.
Changes include, Councils being required to consult with the community on their budgets. There will also be stronger requirements on the use of council controlled entities.
The publishing of Councillor registers of interest will also be standardised so that the community is better informed about potential conflicts of interests.
The Discussion Paper is structured in four sections; before, during, after an election and elected councils. Current and proposed amendments are outlined as well as the reasoning for proposed changes. We would urge anyone interested in Local Government reform to read this discussion paper.
The Queensland Government is committed to ensuring stakeholders are aware of these proposed changes and their impacts.
The Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs is available to answer questions on a dedicated phone hotline 07 3452 6747 and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Live webinars will also be held by the Department. For more information and to register your interest click here.