The old (and in my view, wrong) maxim that councils should only focus on ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ fails to mention another customary council responsibility – local laws.
Local laws are exactly that – laws a council may make to deal with issues in its specific community.
In Queensland, the Local Government Act specifies how these laws are made, how they are made known to the public, and what they may and may not deal with.
The remit is fairly wide. As the Act states “a local government may make and enforce any local law that is necessary or convenient for the good rule and local government of its local government area”.
Councils typically make local laws on matters such as parking, keeping animals, public health, council parks, and the licencing of businesses.
These laws touch upon our daily lives and council has an obligation to make sure they are relevant and contemporary.
Earlier this year, your council embarked on a comprehensive review of its local laws; an action identified as necessary in our Vision2020 blueprint.
With many laws introduced some decades ago and not overhauled for years, a review was clearly overdue. Council began by drafting proposed law improvements which were benchmarked across other councils, reviewed against state government legislation and considered by an independent, external legal review.
Community views were sought during a three week public consultation period which informed the finalised amendments.
At the end of this process, 15 local laws and subordinate laws were amended, two repealed and an additional subordinate law introduced. These amendments commenced on 1 November 2019.
Your council has also reviewed, amended and, where appropriate, repealed many of its policies in accordance with the new Policy and Procedure Management Framework adopted this year.
In total, 74 policies were repealed and 29 new ones adopted. Outdated policies repealed included the Support for the Establishment of Olive Growing Policy, the Mayoress Administration and Expenses Policy and the Maintenance of Unformed Roads Policy.
This policy on unformed or unsealed road maintenance is an interesting example, I think, of the need for regular and rigorous policy review.
Created in 2011, the policy set a budget of $60,000 to manage requests for maintenance of unformed roads across the city.
Despite almost all of these roads lying in the rural parts of Ipswich – at a time when almost all rural Ipswich lay in one council division – the policy allowed no more than 75 per cent of its budget to be used in any single division each year, while restricting maintenance expenditure on a single road to $3,000.
In reality, this policy prevented any effective maintenance of these roads. This policy has been reviewed and repealed with the policy considerations incorporated in the new Infrastructure Asset Management Policy.
This allows for proper planning and delivery of road maintenance across the urban and rural areas of Ipswich.
The significant review, amendment and repeal of council local laws and policies was undertaken to provide Ipswich’s residents, ratepayers and soon-to-be-elected councillors with a solid governance platform for the future.
Council officers have put in an incredible effort to make this outcome possible.
Information about your council’s local laws and policies is available at ipswich.qld.gov.au