Is there a case for mandating directly elected `semi-executive' mayors in Australian local government? Lessons from the 2012 Queensland local government elections

Publisher:
John Wiley & Sons
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Australian Journal of Public Administration, 2015, 74 (4), pp. 484 - 494
Issue Date:
2015
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A ‘semi-executive’ model for Australian mayors, inclusive of direct election, is presently being explored in the Australian local sector (see, in particular, Sansom, 2012). This paper takes advantage of the differences across Australia's federation to examine the recent experience of directly elected mayors in Queensland, especially the results of local government elections held in 2012. It is argued that several factors contributed to the high turnover rates of both mayors and councillors, including the 2012 Queensland state election and the 2008 amalgamation process. However, the requirement for directly elected mayors was an important factor contributing to what the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ, 2012, 12) described as a ‘significantly high’ proportion of ‘corporate knowledge’ being lost. Moreover, the direct election of mayors, in particular those charged with ‘semi-executive’ authority, is fraught with problems and thus should not to be implemented in all Australian local government systems.
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