Council is one of the three tiers of government in Australia. It has a specific set of functions and responsibilities, and plays an important role in improving the liveability of local communities. Councils are set up by state legislation. In Queensland, their powers come mainly from the Local Government Act.
What does Council do?
Cairns Regional Council provides more than 400 important services, facilities and functions including:
- community infrastructure (parks, playgrounds, gardens, sporting fields, footpaths, cycleways etc)
- arts and cultural services and facilities) libraries, civic events, community celebrations, performing and visual arts centres
- building regulation and development controls
- sewerage and wastewater treatment
- water supply
- waste collection, disposal and recycling
- animal management
- pest and weed control
- town planning and land use management
- local roads, kerbing and drainage
- building approvals, and more!
Who runs Council?
Cairns Regional Council consists of the Mayor and nine Councillors. The people who live in each local government division choose who they want to be their representative on their council. The Mayoralty is decided on a majority popular vote across the entire local government area. Local government elections in Queensland are held every four years, and the next election is due in 2020.
Councillors are elected to represent the interests of everyone in the community. Their role is to make decisions relating to facilities and services in their local area. They make local laws to help provide a safe and orderly community. Councillors have regular meetings at which they make decisions and discuss local issues. Meetings are held at the council chambers.
The Mayor presides at council meetings and represents the council on formal occasions. As well as council meetings, Councillors attend committee meetings. Each committee deals with specific matters such as water and waste, planning and environment, sport and community services, governance, etc. Members of the public can attend all council and committee meetings.
The administration of Council is headed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Council's six departments are headed by General Managers who report directly to the CEO. Daily operational responsibilities rest with the Executive Team, headed by the CEO. The Executive Team is implements adopted Council policy and the Operational Plan, and oversees Council's operations with the assistance of branch managers.
Council conducts Ordinary and Committee meetings each month. Special meetings are called when Council needs to consider extra-ordinary business items, including the handing down of the annual budget.
Meetings are attended by the committee members (or all Councillors in the case of Ordinary meetings), the Chief Executive Officer (or representative), the General Managers, and, where necessary, other Council officers. The Mayor is a delegate member of all committees and Chair of the Ordinary meeting.
Matters discussed at Committee level do not become resolutions of Council until the recommendations of the committee are adopted and carried at an Ordinary meeting.
The Mayor acts as the impartial chair of all Council meetings. During the meeting, Council considers reports from the committees, delivered by the respective committee chairs.
Items are discussed and debated, with Council deciding whether to adopt the committee’s recommendations or carry an alternative recommendation. It is usual practice for Councillors to raise any recommendations from committees that they wish to be discussed. All committee recommendations that have not otherwise been amended by Council are then carried in a block resolution.
Some items may be deferred, and others may have recommendations amended. Some report items are included “for information”. These items do not represent a decision, and do not require action by Council, they are simply an update on an issue Council is following or investigating. Once the report has been adopted, all recommendations become resolutions that will be implemented by staff.