Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe responds to SMBI infrastructure petition

ISLANDS: Some residents called for an inquiry into island infrastructure in a petition last month.
ISLANDS: Some residents called for an inquiry into island infrastructure in a petition last month.

LOCAL Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has responded to a petition tabled in parliament calling for an inquiry into infrastructure on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, saying the state government's control over council budgets was limited.

The petition - which had 433 signatures - was tabled in state parliament last month, asking for a Commission of Inquiry into why council had 'failed' to provide the SMBIs with infrastructure to a standard normally provided in other urban areas.

In Mr Hinchliffe's response, tabled last week, he did not say whether an inquiry would be conducted.

He said there was a legal framework for how local governments determined their annual budgets - including the levying of rates and proposed spending on infrastructure - but councils were also afforded considerable autonomy.

"This recognises that individual councils are best placed to determine the services and facilities to be delivered to their communities and the revenue required to ensure such delivery meets the needs and expectations of their ratepayers," he said.

"There are limited powers for the state to intervene or direct any local government in such operational matters."

Responsibility for the islands was handed over to council in the 1973.

A council spokesperson told the Bulletin in October that infrastructure on the islands at that time had been inadequate and successive councils had worked from a relatively small rates base to improve infrastructure.

Projects had included car parks, boat ramps and seawalls, recreational centres and other sports facilities and maintenance and upgrades for public

Mr Hinchliffe said the government was considering reforms including requiring councils to consult with the community before their annual budgets were adopted.

"This would provide an opportunity for the community to let their council know what services and infrastructure needs are important to them," he said.