Council or corporatocracy?
Corporatocracy has officially arrived in North Queensland helping the Townsville City Council (TCC) to gain renewed energy and purpose in creating economic opportunities for the City.
The official announcement this week by the local government authority has created a development corporation so as to take advantage of private capital interests seeking joint ventures with the TCC on infrastructure, community services and industrial ventures.
Development corporations are legal entities just like any other Australian corporation. The entity is controlled by a Board of Directors that have been defined as a “beneficial enterprise” under state government legislation.
“Townsville City Council has approved the creation of a development corporation to unlock council owned land for development and economic activation.” Ms. Adele Young, TCC Chief Executive Officer, said in an official press release.
It’s the Law
Queensland law provides authority to local governments to form private partnerships and leverage council assets for commercial and public interests.
“The Townsville development corporation will be established in line with the provisions for councils to form beneficial enterprises under the Local Government Act 2009,” Ms. Young’s statement said.
“Under the arrangements, strategic sites will be transferred to the development corporation which will negotiate land use developments of sites based on business cases approved by the development corporation board and council.
“The make-up of the board will comprise the Mayor, council’s Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Planning and two independent directors who will be confirmed in coming weeks,” The TCC stated.
What is the purpose?
Mayor Cr. Jenny Hill said the enterprise body would be similar to successful development corporations created by other councils in Queensland to generate new projects and investment.
“The decision fulfils a council election promise and meets a commitment in the Townsville City Deal agreement with the Australian and Queensland Governments to establish the special entity by June 30.
“The development corporation will be driving force behind unlocking the potential of prime council owned land in the Townsville PDA to stimulate investment, construction and jobs,” Cr Hill said.
“It will open up major new opportunities for public and private investment in and potentially even partnerships.
“This is an initiative that I have championed for some time now to free up sites in the PDA like the former northern rail yards to exciting and innovative development,” Cr. Hill stated.
“The council has consulted with business, community leaders and the State Government, and is now proceeding with the proposal after receiving widespread support.
“As the owner of the land, the council will maintain control over any decisions on behalf of the community.
“By establishing the development corporation, the city will have a dedicated public entity with the sole purpose of activating council owned land in the Townsville PDA and other strategic areas,” the TCC press release reported.
Famous American economist, Edmund Philps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences, said in his analysis of Corporatisation that “the cause of income inequality is not free market capitalism, but instead the result of the rise of corporatization acting with complicit state institutions in ways that discourage (or block) the natural workings of a free economy.”
Even though Cr. Hill has stated she had been wanting the development corporation for some time, the catalyst for the creation of the corporate entity is for the TCC to become a player in the global consortium of investigating the financial viability of the Townsville Battery Gigafactory at Woodstock, 40 kilometres west of Townsville.
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