De-amalgamation a regressive move

As Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Jim Soorley presides over Australia’s largest Council. Popularly elected by some 534,000 electors, he represents the largest number of constituents of any elected representative in the three spheres of government.

Brisbane City was formed 70 years ago when 22 local authorities and four utilities were amalgamated under the Greater Brisbane Act. As a result, Council provides a wider than usual range of services, including electricity, transport, water and sewerage. Servicing a population of around three quarters of a million people, Council comprises the Lord Mayor and 26 full time Councillors, each representing a single member ward.

“Our mission is to protect and enhance the livability of this City,” the Lord Mayor said. “This includes matters such as traffic management, air quality and community services to enhance lifestyles.

“At Brisbane we are very much at the cutting edge of environmental management with bushland acquisition, open space and environmental health.”

Jim Soorley believes that, to some extent, Local Government is its own worst enemy.

“It is closest to the people and the sphere of government that delivers best. However, Local Government needs a clear vision for the future as a larger, stronger sphere of government. We need an amalgam of Local Government and State Government into ‘regional government’ to accept responsibility as the major service provider in our system of governance.”

The Lord Mayor does not believe the recent push to de-amalgamate in Queensland will go ahead due to cost factors and its regressive aspects given the need for areas to have a stronger regional focus.