How corruption bungles have left our biggest councils frozen by fear

Some of Queensland’s biggest councils have attacked the over regulation of councils and the perception of corruption claiming it is limiting their ability to attract business.

Mar 17, 2022, updated Mar 17, 2022
Townsville mayor Jenny Hill said councils were fighting over-regulation

Townsville mayor Jenny Hill said councils were fighting over-regulation

At a Queensland Futures Institute function, the councils said there was a continued lack of trust and respect for councils from state and federal governments.

Asked how she dealt with the issue of bringing in business, Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said “with difficulty”.

“Under the current environment local government is under so much scrutiny through the Crime and Corruption Commission and the Office of the Independent Assessor it has made it hard for us to be flexible enough to deal with businesses to bring them into the region,” Hill said.

“We work hard to get around that or to prove to everyone there is no brown paper bags or anything like that.

“We do this job because we are dedicated to our regions.”

“We are actually here to deliver not just roads rates and rubbish, but unlike the guys in south east Queensland we have to fight hard to get our voices heard.

“It can be very dim in Canberra and it’s one of the reason why we find it hard to develop the reasons north of Noosa.”

Her comments highlight the significance of the issue of political integrity in Queensland. They also follow the failure of the CCC’s cases against former Logan councillors and the former mayor of Moreton Bay Council Alan Sutherland.

The State Government, which regulates councils, itself is also facing serious integrity issues.

Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive Alison Smith said the organisation and the local government sector it represents believed the system of local government should be accountable, democratic, efficient, sustainable and transparent, however, right now it is clear the balance is out.

“In recent months there have been numerous failed prosecutions launched by the Crime and Corruption Commission, damning findings from the parliamentary Inquiry into the CCC, and alarming evidence presented at hearings of the parliamentary inquiry into the Office of the Independent Assessor.

“The local government sector needs balance restored to the system, otherwise good people will continue to be lost from local government and Queensland’s local communities will be the poorer for

The issue for many of the regional councils was in dealing with the complexity of conflict of interest rules and regulations.

Redlands mayor Karen Williams said the last two years had been a real test for local government “whether it be the over regulation that Jenny talked about or how we are monitored on a daily basis”.

Cairns mayor Bob Manning said councils found it hard to be taken seriously by governments but in turn those governments had real difficulty in making decisions and tended to “kick the tin down the road”.

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