Bundaberg MP David Batt.
Bundaberg MP David Batt.

Batt debates Belcarra in parliament

BUNDABERG MP David Batt said in parliament that he supported laws that aimed to increase the transparency of local councillors.

But while he voted for the second stage of the Belcarra legislation which passed unanimously in the Queensland parliament on Wednesday, he said there were aspects which the Queensland Government took too far.

This included the proposed mandatory preferential voting, which could potentially have impacted the local government election next March, but was removed from the final legislation.

"The minister's last-minute decision to ditch the cynical, forceful plan is good news for local government democracy," Mr Batt said.

"If it had gone ahead, the voting reforms would have resulted in significantly higher council rates and electoral confusion right across the state, all in a bid to shore up Labor's vote in the Brisbane City Council elections."

Debated at the same time was legislation which will allow prisoners serving a sentence of less than three years to be allowed to vote.

This was something Mr Batt did not agree with.

"A person serving a sentence of imprisonment, no matter the length of sentence, is not a law-abiding citizen and there should be no discretion for those who are serving shorter sentences," he said.

Local Government minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the aim of the legislation was to impose the same obligations on councillors as state ministers.

"The reforms contained in this bill will mean that councillors are not involved in the day-to-day operations of council, but will instead allow them to focus on the strategic and community issues that they are elected to do," he said.

"The mayor and the councillors have and will continue to have the necessary powers to drive the local government's agenda, including appointing the chief executive officer and affecting all significant decisions and policies, such as the budget and organisational structure.

"Members should not believe the hype from some of those opposite. The proposed amendments in no way prevent the chief executive officer from consulting with the mayor and councillors about the appointment of senior executive employees."

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