Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean
Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean Marc Stapelberg

Outgoing LGAQ president putting hand up for ALGA

THE outgoing head of Queensland's local government association will take the fight for constitutional recognition to the national level.

Paul Bell, who will step down as the LGAQ president after eight years, received a standing ovation at the association's annual conference on Tuesday as he reflected on his achievements and the work left to do.

The Emerald resident also announced he would put his hand up for president of the Australian Local Government Association, a role that will be decided next month. Cr Bell was the ALGA president from 2004 to 2008.

Cr Bell, who will hand over the presidential reins at the Brisbane conference this week, said the national-level move was driven by his passion for constitutional recognition of local government.

"I feel so strongly about this issue and our place in the federal scene," he said.

"In public life you can't wait for things to happen, you have to make them happen and there hasn't been near enough of that happening.

"I happily commit to do everything within my powers to achieve two things; one ensuring the referendum goes ahead at the time when we can win and secondly that we raise enough money to run a serious campaign."

While coming into office in 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised to hold referendums on the constitutional recognition of local government by the end of 2013.

Progress on the promise has slowed but Federal Local Government Minister Simon Crean is still hopeful.

According to the LGAQ, Mr Crean voiced his intention to move a motion in Parliament this month to establish a joint select committee on the issue.

Constitutional recognition is tipped to be a big issue at this week's annual conference with motions put forward to intensify the fight and former NSW Chief Justice James Spigelman leading a forum on the issue on Wednesday.



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