NOW Community members can expect to have a diversity of candidates nominating to be their mayor and councillors, with all elected representatives having the clear understanding that – under the law - divisional arrangements are the means of electing councillors every 4 years; they are not the geography of ongoing councillor behaviour and council decision-making for the city. Council staff are now expected to treat all councillors as representatives of the entire Ipswich City local government area, regardless of their electoral division, and to formulate policy recommendations and deliver services with a whole-of-city approach. The incoming mayor and councillors can expect their communities and staff to be seeking conduct, decisions and council services delivered on behalf of the entire local government area.
For example, in Ipswich about $7 million each year was distributed via a division-based infrastructure funding pool, where each councillor championed projects within their own division. That’s a considerable amount of money each year that could have gone towards major infrastructure projects that would benefit the city as a whole. In addition, the unspent infrastructure pools were rolled into the next financial years and, to give an example, one councillor had amassed in excess of $2 million available to be spent in that particular division in the lead up to the March 2020 elections. WHAT WE DID As the various communities around Ipswich have grown and changed, it could be expected that they will also have differing views on what they want from their council compared to when the city was first established some 160 years ago, and since the 10 divisional arrangement was set in 2008. Throughout March 2019, council encouraged residents to help “shape their future council” by sharing their views on the most appropriate divisional boundary model for the city. Following a month-long public consultation phase, which included a community information session and citywide survey, a report was presented to the state government recommending the endorsement of a multi-councillor divisional model for Ipswich, suggesting two to three councillors be elected in some four to six divisions. The Minister for Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs referred the report to the Change Commission which, on 9 July 2019, published a Proposed Determination Report and invited public comments on the proposal. On 18 October 2019, the Change Commission published its final determination, confirming that Ipswich City Council will be represented by a mayor and eight councillors across four divisions (two councillors per division) at the March 2020 local government elections. The Change Commission noted that multi-member divisions provided greater scope to have more councillors representing rural areas within the council area, offering the opportunity for more inclusive representation.