Can incoming councillors set their own remuneration?
How much did the Interim Administrator and his team cost the ratepayers? Less than if a mayor and councillors had been in place. The total cost if a mayor and 10 councillors had been in place from August 2018 to March 2020 would have been around $3.4m. The total cost for Greg Chemello and the five professional Interim Management Committee (IMC) members over the same period will be around $3.2m. Greg Chemello was general manager of Economic Development Queensland, a State Government commercialised business unit, and carried over his existing CEO level remuneration contract into the Interim Administrator role; he did not seek nor did he receive any additional remuneration or expenses for the role. The IMC members were each appointed by the State Government on hourly rate contracts. The state invoiced council each month for the costs of the Interim Administrator and IMC members. Can the governance reforms undertaken under this period of interim administration be undone by a future council? In the main, no. Much of the reform to your council’s governance arrangements, and former policies and procedures were necessary to make your council compliant with the relevant laws, in particular the Local Government Act 2009 . That Act has also been amended three times by the Queensland Parliament since August 2018, and council’s reforms reflect the new requirements. Some policies such as the Code of Conduct and Meeting Procedures Policy are mandated by the State Government. Other policies cannot be changed to reflect past practices as that would breach the legislation. Your council’s revitalised Audit and Risk Management Committee with an independent chairperson will also have oversight of any proposed policy amendments. Of course, the council can – and probably should - “fine tune” aspects of the new arrangements in the light of actual experience over the next few years. Any changes will need to be made openly and transparently at a council meeting.
No. The maximum remuneration for mayors and councillors for all local governments across Queensland is set each year by the Local Government Remuneration Commission, a State Government entity. Who keeps the incoming council accountable to deliver on the reforms put in place over the last 16 months? Ultimately, the voters in Ipswich every four years. But on the way through, the behaviour and activities of the mayor and councillors is subject to scrutiny by the Crime and Corruption Commission, the recently created Independent Assessor (the State Government body that assesses, investigates and prosecutes complaints about poor councillor conduct), the Queensland Audit Office, Electoral Commission of Queensland, the Department of Local Government Racing and Multicultural Affairs, the staff of council and the residents of Ipswich. What is the impact of Greg Chemello exiting the Interim Administrator role earlier than the March 2020 elections? Negligible. Greg Chemello was offered the role of CEO for another large local government that needs to undergo significant reforms. The Minister for Local Government approved Mr Chemello’s transition to that council some two months before the local government elections as: all the key strategic decisions and policy directions for Ipswich have been set in place already; and council will be moved into “caretaker” mode from mid-February in any case in the lead up to the elections. The December 2019 council meeting completed the last part of the councillor governance and integrity package for your council ahead of the return of elected representatives at the March 2020 local government elections. The last key council decision relating to the Nicholas Street redevelopment was also made in December 2019. The task ahead is for council staff, consultants and contractors to deliver on the directions set and decisions made over the past 16 months.