Wednesday 26 December 2007

Cairns needs full time councillors

Kirsten Lesina, candidate for Division 4 and Richie Bates running for Division 5 in the 2008 Cairns Regional Council elections, are calling on all divisional candidates to declare whether they will be full-time Councillors if they are elected.

"We all know that there are some current Councillors who own or run businesses," Kirsten Lesina says.

"These Councillors, and all other candidates, must declare whether they will devote all of their working time to their constituents or whether they will neglect them in favour of their own personal interests."

"I call on all candidates for the March 2008 Cairns Regional Council election to declare their intention, so that voters can make an informed choice on March 15," she says.

Richie Bates, candidate for Division 5, agrees.

"With the salary that Councillors in the Cairns Regional Council will be receiving, they have no excuse for not treating their role as Councillor as a full-time job," Mr Bates said. "Councillors who do not work as a full-time councillor will be short-changing the residents who elected them."

Both Lesina and Bates are members of the Cairns 1st Alliance.

"If I am elected, I will work as a full-time councillor, addressing the issues and concerns of the residents I represent." Lesina says.

"To do otherwise is not repaying the trust that voters place in a Councillor when they elect them."

The State Government recently announced that Cairns Regional Councillor salaries will range between $75,940 and $88,590 pa.

"This is enough to attract high quality candidates who will work full-time for their constituents." says Richie Bates.

If someone decides to run for Council, then one assumes that they have thought long and hard about what they will be doing about their current "day jobs", a commenter posted on CairnsBlog recently.

'Jude J Troublemaker' went on to say:

  • "my wish list is for councillors to not have their fingers in so many "development pies". Too many councillor's leave meetings because there may be a "conflict of interest" with the Development Approval before council.

    In the last meeting Councillor Ford left because of MCU Multi Unit Apartments, Councillor James MCU Multi Unit Apartments and Business Facilities.
    I have lost count as to how many times Councillor Freebody leaves the Meeting Room.

    If Paul Mathews or any of the other candidates named in "Factmans" comment left because they had an interest in a development that required a MCU, I would have the same view.


Anonymous said...

There is NO REASON council should be a "full time" job. Cities much larger than Cairns are run by part time councillors in the US, UK, Germany, and other countries around the world. And these are cities with more complex management structures that include police, fire, and public education. In California, city councillors are routinely paid $200-$1000 per month based on meeting attendance, with day to day constitutient needs handled by a paid, full time liaison.

Representative government service at this level should be voluntary, since there is no way to "force" any elected representative to give up their other jobs.

Anonymous said...

To the previous commentator...

You cite overseas examples without saying what's best practice. Examples of all sorts of things can be found around the world - it doesn't mean we'd benefit from them here. For instance, you describe arrangements in California (without providing a web reference so we can easily verify your assertion), but provide no reason why FNQ should follow California's model.

The salary levels that the State Government, in its wisdom, decided upon under its new local government arrangements seem to me reasonable remuneration for hard-working full-time Councilors.

There are problems stipulating that Councilors must work full-time in that capacity - and I understand no attempt has been made to do so - but it's certainly reasonable for prospective Councilors to make their intention to focus entirely on the job a selling point in their candidacy.

The issue of Councilors with local business entanglements is a separate, although related issue.

Does anyone know if the new Council arrangements require disclosure of Councilors' financial interests?

Rather weak arrangements appear to be in place in the Queensland Parliament - see here. In this regard, the British Parliament operates with more transparency – see it’s online register. What are the reporting requirements for Queensland Councilors from March 2008?

Of course, there’s nothing to stop candidates in any election putting their financial interests in the public domain irrespective of the law – just like these two candidates have publicly renounced taking other paid work if elected.

Capacity for hard work and financial transparency are important criteria for voters to consider.

They are not the only ones. Policy matters too!

Anonymous said...

If you have a look at the councillor page on I think you'll find there is a disclosure over who owns/has received what.

Full-time job? I believe it's up to the individual - some people can get more done in one hour, than others can in a day - and they both look just as busy from the outside. Some people are just better at getting things done.

You know the saying... "you want something done? Ask a busy person" Probably has some merit here.

Saying you'll devote 100% of your time is just a publicity stunt. No good giving 100% if you're actually useless at your job.

Well, at least you tried.

Anonymous said...

If you want 100%, don't ask someone with a conflict of interest

Anonymous said...

Councilors' disclosure of intererts.

Anonymous wrote:

"If you have a look at the councillor page on I think you'll find there is a disclosure over who owns/has received what."

I took the advice of the lazy anonymous poster, who couldn't be bothered to provide an exact link.

This is what I found.

On each page related to specific Councilors, the following text appears:

In accordance with Local Government Act 1993, Division 2, Obligations of Councillors, Section 248 Access to Registers, it is required that Council hold a register of interest for each Councillor.

Members of the public wishing to sight the document can do so by applying in writing in accordance with the requirements of the ‘Act’

There's also a brief statement on the webpage itself about gifts received, hospitality benefits and membership of organizations.

Strangely, even this text does not appear on the Mayor's page, as far as I can see. Presumably an oversight?

I would not, myself, consider this world best practice - but perhaps I was looking at the wrong part of the website? For instance, are directorships, shareholdings and land ownership listed? Where?

It would be interesting to hear from Val Shier and her team about what they propose to do about Councilor disclosures if they win power.

Assuming that the current CCC does at least the bare minimum under the Local Government Act, do Shier & friends propose anything more?

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have a full-timer out in the community having a go, than an uncontactable business person with too many development irons in the fire.

Anonymous said...

Registers of interest will change to an online format, accessible by all.

Anonymous said...

This must be the first anonymous election promise I've ever heard:

Anonymous said...

Registers of interest will change to an online format, accessible by all.

You could start a new trend with an innovation like that, anonymous! :-)

Anonymous said...

How about us ordinary ratepayers BEING ABLE to contact our Councillor for ONCE, for a change!! Now how is that for a novel, ground breaking, mind blowing freak-you-all out freaking idea?

Anonymous said...

Sid, I don't think this is an election promise, but rather legislation that came in with the council amalgamations.
effective when?

Anonymous said...

Let's be reminded hear of an incident in 2003. Mayor Byrne had his own submission in at a council meeting to build a place for himself at Second Beach. He wanted, of course, permission to ignore the Cairns Plan at the time and build his place to a height above the tree line. When it came up in the meeting, Jason O'Brien, councillor at the time spoke up and wanted some discussion on the issue, where he was cut-off mid sentence by Cr Freebody who rudely interrupted with 'lets put it to vote'. Knowing of course that the Unity team had the numbers it was always going to get through. This is just another typical example of the arrogant ways of the Unity Team. To finish it off the smart-arsed way Freebody did is typical of the attitude of them. No discussion, decision made before hand. What's the point? And they want us to believe they are 'open and transparent'. Time to go Freebody.