Former Hobart leader wants limits
A former Hobart lord mayor has made a range of suggestions ahead of Tasmania’s local government review.
Former Hobart lord mayor Sue Hickey made headlines last year when she described her fellow Tasmanian councillors “pale, male and stale”, encouraging a more diverse range of people sign up to represent their regions.
Ms Hickey says she stands by her statement, but the upcoming review is an excellent opportunity for change.
“We need people who are younger [and] future-focussed to put their hands up,” she said this week.
“I definitely think that [term limits could help]. I don't think you need to be on council for 40 years, which some of our officials are, even 25 years plus.”
The Government will soon launch a discussion paper on a new set of “first principles”.
Launceston City Council Alderman Darren Alexander agreed that term limits could encourage younger people onto councils.
“Absolutely, because I think the churn — if you're talking about the churn of turnover — would happen if there was an opportunity for younger people to see that it was worth doing,” he said.
“It's like the CEO of a business. You do seven or eight years in a major company. A lot of people look at that and say; ‘Long enough’.
“I think three terms, because three terms you can leave a legacy.”
The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) will play a big role in developing the new Act.
LGAT president and Clarence Council mayor Doug Chipman does not see the same case for introducing term limits.
“I think that local communities are generally very good at turfing out councillors who aren't performing, aren't pulling their weight,” he said.
“They're also very good at recognising talent and bringing them forward.
“There's no doubt that we'd like to see more diversity on council.
“We'd like to see younger people, more women on council, better balance right across all of our councils… but putting artificial constraints on that wouldn't solve the problem.”
“I mean, we have some women who have served on councils for many years. Would you want to kick them off?”
Ms Hickey said that in addition to term limits, the reform of the Local Government Act should also focus on stamping out what she describes as “totally unacceptable” behaviour.
“I'm talking about aggression and bullying and intimidation,” she said.
“And what's happened is a lot of aldermen on council have taken this; ‘Oh, we won't pay attention to it, we won't feed it’ approach.
“There isn't sufficient power in the Local Government Act to deal with it.”