Local Government Act passed in parliament

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli told Parliament the amendment was in line with the government's intention to put mayors and councillors in charge of councils.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli told Parliament the amendment was in line with the government's intention to put mayors and councillors in charge of councils. Lee Constable

LEGISLATION aimed at giving local governments more decision-making power, including cracking down on noisy party-houses, has passed the Queensland Parliament.

After hours of detailed debate, the Local Government Act was passed late on Tuesday night.

Among the sweeping changes is the power for councils to conduct referendums on locally relevant issues and for mayors to be responsible for the preparation of budgets, not chief executive officers.

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli told Parliament the amendment was in line with the government's intention to put mayors and councillors in charge of councils.

But Mackay MP Tim Mulherin raised concerns about councils having the ability to pass their own interim local laws without consultation.

"Many people in regional and rural areas are used to looking to their local papers for information about their council, and this is an ideal way to keep the community informed," he told the Parliament.

"I cannot imagine that the cost would be so excessive as to outweigh the benefit of keeping the community informed."

The act also gives councils the power to pass local laws to make the owners of noisy properties liable for penalties.

Noosa MP Glen Elmes said legitimate accommodation houses in his electorate had lost business unfairly to competitors who flouted planning laws to pursue their own personal interests.

"Those interests have been at the expense of the neighbours adjacent to their purpose-built party houses," he said in Parliament.

"Those party houses do not normally meet fire safety or emergency evacuation standards or any of the other proper safety infrastructures that is required of genuine holiday accommodation."

Changes to conflict of interest regulations will exempt councillors from declaring a material personal interest at a meeting regarding an "ordinary business matter".

Mr Crisafulli said the previous act made councils less responsive to their communities because they were too busy reporting to the State Government.

"Whether it's Brisbane City Council having to pay $5000 for tabling the minutes in the wrong order, or regional mayors having to keep pointless logs of requests to their CEOs, we can do a lot better," he said.

"Voters are back in the driver's seat with their councils, rather than bureaucrats and the State Government."

The act followed Mr Crisafulli's visits to 73 councils around the state.

"Big or small, country or city, the message was the same: stop the stupid rules and regulations," Mr Crisafulli said.

"The previous act made councils less responsive to their communities and we're restoring their power to act."

Topics:  local government act queensland parliament

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