EMPOWERING LOCAL COUNCILS: SBRC Mayor Wayne Kratzmann (right) presented David Crisafulli with a hamper of products from the region.
EMPOWERING LOCAL COUNCILS: SBRC Mayor Wayne Kratzmann (right) presented David Crisafulli with a hamper of products from the region. Louise Cheer

Minister pays a visit

LOCAL Government Minister David Crisafulli paid a visit to the South Burnett region earlier this week to restore the relationship between the State and Local governments and discuss future changes to the Local Government Act.

Mr Crisafulli said the relationship between the two levels of government was important as the State Government wants the support of local councils.

"We've promoted the fact we want to grow a four-pillar economy and we've promoted the fact we want to lower unemployment to 4% and that will only happen if we have local governments that are also promoting those goals," he said.

"When people come to a town to invest, the first people they see is the local council and I want those local councils to realise they are an important part of our future.

"I'm determined to empower them."

The former Townsville councillor said he wanted those who run the South Burnett to be in control of the region's destiny instead of focusing on fulfilling the wishes of the State Government.

"What has happened is local government has been less about local government in recent years and that breaks my heart," he said.

"When I see councils having to spend all of their time and effort on reporting back to Brisbane on corporate plans and community plans and plans about plans, my blood boils.

"The greatest gift I can give as local government minister is to allow these communities to have a say in what they want to achieve and if I can achieve that by changing the Local Government Act, we will again get back to local government that is about local governance."

Mr Crisafulli said the region was blessed to have Member of Callide Jeff Seeney and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington holding influential roles in the State Government, who are deputy premier and assistant minister for finance, administration and regulatory reform respectively.

"I want to make sure they are working with your council to deliver for your region," he said.

"I can't assume just because government has changed that the relationship will change.

"I need to earn the trust of these people and I won't earn it by sitting in an office in Brisbane and summonsing them to me."

South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said Mr Crisafulli brought a completely fresh approach to local government.

"As the former deputy mayor of Townsville, he has that experience and he knows local government and he's the ideal local government minister," he said.

"We're really excited and, in fact, I think that all the councillors were inspired today by what he had to tell us."

Cr Kratzmann said he did not doubt Mr Crisafulli would be able to bring the local and state governments closer together.

"He understands the issues and I think that's the real key thing," he said.

"We realise that not all of our requests will be ticked off, but he's opened up those lines of communication.

"It's exciting times for us in tough economic times to know we've got the right people in George St, Brisbane, to talk to."

Cr Kratzmann said it was a positive sign Mr Crisafulli was willing to travel to the region to meet with the council face-to-face.

"In such a busy time, it's good to see he's willing to spare the time to talk to the people of the South Burnett, so it shows what kind of minister he is and we appreciate it very much," Cr Kratzmann said.