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To notify local governments of the making of two local government regulations required as a result of the Premier’s recent announcement that the Queensland state government elections would be held on 24 March 2012 and the subsequent delay of the local government elections.
On 25 January 2012, the state government announced that after consultation with the Local Government Association of Queensland the date for the local government elections will be set for 28 April 2012.
Under section 23(3) of the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, a regulation may fix a different day for a quadrennial election.
The Local Government Electoral Regulation 2012, notified in the Queensland Government Gazette on 10 February 2012, fixes 28 April 2012 as the day for the 2012 quadrennial local government elections.
As a result of the deferral of the local government elections, the state government announced on 25 January 2012 that the deadline for the adoption of budgets by local governments would be extended by an additional 28 days, from 1 September to 29 September 2012.
However, consequential amendments to the Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Regulation 2010 (the Finance Regulation) are necessary to give a local government sufficient time to adopt its corporate plan and revenue policy.
Under section 100 of the Finance Regulation, a local government must adopt its budget for a financial year before 1 September in the financial year, however, the Minister has the discretion to extend the deadline to a later date decided by the Minister. However, in respect of the adoption of a local government’s corporate plan (section 120) and revenue policy (section 134) the Finance Regulation provides that these documents must be adopted before the start of the financial year, but does not provide the Minister with the discretion to extend the deadline.
The Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2012, notified in the Queensland Government Gazette on 10 February 2012, amends the Finance Regulation. The amendments to the Finance Regulation link the timing of the adoption of the corporate plan and revenue policy with that of the budget by providing that these documents must be adopted before the budget, not before the start of the financial year as was previously the case.
The practical effect of the amendments is that a decision by the Minister to extend the deadline for the adoption of a local government’s budget under section 100, will automatically extend the time that a local government has to adopt its corporate plan and revenue policy.
Whilst these amendments have been made as a consequence of the deferral of the 2012 quadrennial local government elections, the amendments were drafted so as to provide an on-going mechanism to provide administrative flexibility and convenience in future years if as a result of an unforeseen event or emergency situation (ie a natural disaster) a local government requires an extension to the 1 September deadline for the adoption of its budget.
Copies of the Amendment Regulations are available to view online at www.legislation.qld.gov.au.