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Power returns to people in Council law change

FINGERS CROSSED: Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige hopes both projects shortlisted for the Royalties for the Region program receive the vital funding.
FINGERS CROSSED: Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige hopes both projects shortlisted for the Royalties for the Region program receive the vital funding. Beth Young

MAYOR Ron Carige is excited about changes to the Local Government Act that will hand power back to councils.

Queensland Local Government Minister David Crisafulli announced the changes last month, say they would help cut red tape and save councils thousands of dollars.

Cr Carige said while these benefits were debatable, he could see real benefits, especially for ratepayers.

"I see it as giving local government back to the people," Cr Carige said.

The changes come into effect on Tuesday. Cr Carige said the new legislation would put the onus back on councillors if ratepayers were not happy with the decisions made or processes put in place.

"If the public is not happy with council, they can vote us out but they have very little influence on a local government bureaucrat."

Cr Carige said he understood there was apprehension among the council's senior staff about the changes.

"I meet with them to discuss the matter on Wednesday and assure them that it will not mean a great deal of change.

"They are the experts in their fields and this council will continue to rely heavily on their input, especially when it comes to setting the budget," Cr Carige said.

Mr Crisafulli said the previous Act had made councils less responsive to their communities because they were too busy reporting to the State Government in George St in Brisbane.

"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.

"Voters are back in the driver's seat with their councils," Mr Crisafulli said.

LEGISLATION CHANGES

Mayors back in control of councils so they are truly accountable to their ratepayers;

Red tape cut by dispensing with annual community and financial plans;

Residential occupiers now responsible for complying with local laws, as well as owners;

Councils can again hold referendums on issues of significant local interest;

Conflict of interest provisions increase penalties for rogue councillors while ensuring law-abiding representatives are not treated like errant children.


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