The Queensland Local Government Grants Commission's (the Commission) statutory powers come under sections 230-233 of the Local Government Act 2009.
The Commission provides recommendations to the Minister responsible for local government in Queensland on the distribution of the Commonwealth Government's Financial Assistance Grant to local governing bodies in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (Commonwealth) and the national principles prescribed under the Act by the Commonwealth Minister.
The statutory powers also extend to holding inquiries and making investigations in connection with the finances of local governing bodies.
It is the Commission's responsibility to ensure the distribution of the Financial Assistance Grant is based on horizontal fiscal equalisation or relative need. The differences in each council's expenses for performance of functions, and the capacity to raise revenue, are taken into account to establish the average level of performance in revenue capacity and expenditure need. The grant allocation to the local governing body should therefore assist them to function by reasonable effort to an average standard for the state.
Under the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (Commonwealth) only local councils and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councils are eligible for funding.
Commissioners are appointed by the Governor in Council for up to three years. The current Commission was appointed on 24 March 2016.
The Local Government Act 2009 and Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Regulation 2012 requires the Commission to be comprised of six members:
- Four persons with knowledge of local government, of which one is the Chairperson.
- One person with knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander local government.
- An officer of the department.
Pam Parker, Chairperson
Pam Parker served as a Logan City Mayor and councillor for almost 20 years until retiring at the 2016 local government elections. Ms Parker served as an Executive Member for the Council of Mayors South East Queensland, the Local Government Association of Queensland and the Women in Local Government Association. Ms Parker is an Honorary Citizen of Boystown and is a recipient of the Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship for community service.
Stephen Johnston, Deputy Chair
As Deputy Director-General, Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Mr Johnston has extensive local government experience in New South Wales and Queensland, including as Chief Executive Officer of (the former) Isis Shire Council. He was the National Chief Executive Officer of the Planning Institute of Australia from 2009 to 2010.
He has a Bachelor of Business degree (with a major in Local Government), a Graduate Diploma in Local Government, an MBA and a Master of Local Government and Environmental Law.
Brendan McNamara served as Flinders Shire Mayor from 1997 to 2012 and councillor from 1991 to 1997. He is a former Director and Treasurer of the Local Government Association of Queensland and was the Vice President of the North Queensland Local Government Association. He has also served on state government advisory committees. In partnership with his wife, he operates a 14,000 hectare sheep and cattle property 87 kilometres south of Hughenden. In an earlier career, Brendan qualified and worked as an accountant in Townsville.
Donna Stewart served as the Mayor of Balonne Shire from 2008 until announcing her retirement prior to the 2016 local government elections. Before council amalgamations, she also served as Mayor, Deputy Mayor and councillor for the (former) Warroo Shire for more than 26 years. Ms Stewart is currently a taskforce member for the Queensland Government and has been a member of the Northern Basin Advisory Committee since 2013.
Janelle Menzies has been the Chief Executive Officer for the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council from 2014, and was previously the Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Finance Manager for Pormpauraaw Aboriginal Shire Council from 2009. With a Bachelor of Accounting from University of South Australia, Ms Menzies has held several roles as a finance manager for local councils from 1998. In 2008, Ms Menzies received the Australia Day Award for Public Service, for her work as a financial controller at Mer and Saibai Islands in the Torres Strait.
Ann Bunnell is a former Deputy Mayor of the Townsville City Council. During her two decades as a councillor, she was the chair of many statutory committees. Ms Bunnell is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a former Fellow of the Australasian Mutual Institute. She has also served as Director for the Great Barrier Reef Council, Queensland Country Health and State and National Landcare Councils.
The Commission's statutory powers come under the Local Government Act 2009 and Local Government Regulation 2012. Chapter 10 of the regulation provides: Section 308 - 'What chapter 10 is about'
- This chapter is about the way the grants commission performs its responsibilities as a Local Government Grants Commission under the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act.
Legislative links are provided below:
- Local Government Act 2009 and Local Government Regulation 2012
- Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (Commonwealth)
A. The national principles relating to the allocation of general purpose grants payable under Section 9 of the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (Commonwealth) (the Act) among local governing bodies are:
- Horizontal equalisation
General purpose grants will be allocated to local governing bodies, as far as practicable, on a full horizontal equalisation basis as defined by the Act. This is a basis that ensures that each local governing body in the state/territory is able to function, by reasonable effort, at a standard not lower than the average standard of other local governing bodies in the state. It takes account of differences in the expenditure required by those local governing bodies in the performance of their functions and in the capacity of those local governing bodies to raise revenue.
- Effort neutrality
An effort or policy neutral approach will be used in assessing expenditure requirements and revenue-raising capacity of each local governing body. This means as far as practicable, policies of individual local governing bodies in terms of expenditure and revenue effort will not affect the financial assistance grant determination.
- Minimum grant
The minimum general purpose grant allocation for a local governing body in a year will not be less than the amount to which the local governing body would be entitled if 30 per cent of the total amount of general purpose grants to which the state/territory is entitled under Section 9 of the Act in respect of the year were allocated among local governing bodies in the state/territory on a per capita basis.
- Other grant support
Other relevant grant support provided to local governing bodies to meet any of the expenditure needs assessed should be taken into account using an inclusion approach.
- Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders
Financial assistance shall be allocated to councils in a way that recognises the needs of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders within their boundaries.
- Council amalgamation
On 7 February 2006, the Federal Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads proclaimed a variation under subsection 6(4) of the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 including a new national principle. This relates to council amalgamations and is to be used for the allocation of general purpose grants payable under the Act in the year beginning 1 July 2006 and thereafter.
The principle is as follows:
- Where two or more local governing bodies are amalgamated into a single body, the general purpose grant provided to the new body for each of the four years following amalgamation should be the total of the amounts that would have been provided to the former bodies in each of those years if they had remained separate entities.
B. The national principle relating to the allocation of the amounts payable under Section 12 of the Act (the identified road component of the financial assistance grant) among local governing bodies is as follows:
- Identified road component
This grant's component should be allocated to local governing bodies as far as practicable on the basis of the relative needs of each local governing body for roads expenditure and to preserve its road assets. In assessing road's needs, relevant considerations include length, type and usage of roads in each local governing area.