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Rapid Growth COUNCIL MANAGER August–September 2012


RISK Management

Becoming a Sustainable City lor nt l i c e un lem o C pp Su


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44 NEWS top 10 news stories.................... 2

alga report local goverment Moves forward on priority issues By Genia McCaffery, ALGA President ........ 14

ceo profile

28 senior positions Monitoring the comings and goings of council CEOs........................................ 34

Legal briefing Landfill gas capture and combustion projects: maximising the potential to councils advantage

Growing geraldton: steering the development of a regional city

By Dariel De Sousa, Maddocks Lawyers.... 36

Tony Brun, CEO of Greater Geraldton........ 14

NEWS..................................................... 40




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New Asset management model benefits brisbane By Brisbane City Council...............................22

council leaders The Mayor of Mildura and President of the Shire of East Pilbara.................................. 44

Boroondara: Sustainable city By City of Boroondara............................... 26

Planning for growth in moonee ponds By Moonee Valley City Council................... 28

Using youtube to build community spirit By Frankston City Council......................... 30

One minute risk management By Tony Harb & Mitchell Morley.................. 32

council profile New era set to revive cairns’ fortunes By Rex Pannell.......................................... 46

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Councils benefitting from service reviews

Learning the lessons of other councils

Despite the large differences in geography, administration size and financial resources among local governments in Australia, the need for councils and their managers to learn from each other’s experiences has never been greater. A rising tide of complex issues and service delivery obligations binds councils in a common cause – to learn how to operate local government organisations and deliver services to the community at optimum levels. This thirst for the knowledge and experience of other councils was particularly evident at the recent 2012 Benchmarking Best Practice in Local Government Conference, where nearly 200 people heard case studies of innovative and successful local government organisational development and performance improvement initiatives. And some of the most important advice was not about the success stories themselves – it was about “what would be done differently” should the council have its time again. Indeed, for councils to truly learn from each other, a well-rounded view of the local government experience needs to be shared – the success, the potential pitfalls and all the challenging steps in between. I hope you enjoy the September edition of Council Manager. Sincerely, Ben Hutchison, EDITOR, Council Manager 2 | Council Manager Aug-Sep 2012

Progressive local governments have employed formal systems for reviewing services they provide to their communities, and the processes have achieved tangible outcomes and community benefits. They are the main findings contained in the paper, ‘Service Delivery Reviews in Australian Local Government’, prepared for the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government and the Centre for Local Government at the University of Technology Sydney. The paper looked at service delivery reviews undertaken in 11 councils across Australia and assessed the level of maturity of formal service review processes and the outcomes achieved. ACELG has described the research as timely because local government service provision has transformed significantly over recent decades. It says councils are now moving towards broader objectives to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of communities. The centre says, at the same time, community expectations of local government have increased while other levels of government have devolved various functions. Sarah Artist, Assistant Director, UTSCLG, said the report aimed to fill a gap in the understanding of how councils assess their services. She said it provides a critical analysis of objectives, methodologies and outcomes to design better and more appropriate reviews which meet the organisational needs of councils. The paper makes recommendations on how processes can be further supported and enhanced within local government.

The national news and information service for local government professionals has a new look.

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2 Single body to


Commission issues report on council

represent NSW councils regulatory roles Members of the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW have voted overwhelmingly to form a single association to represent the views and policies of local government in the state. The Local Government Association voted 161-53 in favour of forming a single body while the Shires Association voted 59-13 in favour. The new association will be broken into regions – a metropolitan/urban region and a rural/regional region. This will ensure the new body fairly represents the interests of all councils irrespective of their geographical location. When voting at conferences, each region will have an equal number of votes, distributed proportionally among member councils within each region according to population, and all member councils will receive a minimum of one vote. The LGSA will now work with Fair Work Australia and the NSW Industrial Registry to complete the administrative steps and set a date for amalgamation, which will most likely occur in early 2013. Following the amalgamation date, an Interim Board will take over from the current Shires Association and LGA Executive Boards until all members meet for their first conference as One Association. Members will vote at that conference on who should be appointed to the new Association Executive Board and as the first President. 4 | Council Manager Aug-Sep 2012

It is vital that federal and state governments understand the capacity of local government to deliver desired regulatory outcomes, according to the Productivity Commission. The commission has released its final report dealing with the role of local government as a regulator and it says such understanding by the higher levels of government is essential because of the “huge diversity of local governments across Australia”. The PC says where resources and skills are scarce, local government must be given clear guidance as to how to prioritise its regulatory activities. Commissioner Warren Mundy said local governments could inadvertently or incorrectly impose costs on business, and it was important that businesses had access to well-defined dispute handling processes that allowed complaints and grievances to be objectively considered. The commission’s final report on ‘Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: The Role of Local Government as Regulator’ identifies a number of areas of local government regulation that place unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses, especially in relation to planning and zoning assessment and building and construction regulation. The study examines the regulatory activities of local governments across all states and the Northern Territory. It has identified leading practices in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.


MAV taskforce to push for unfunded super scheme A taskforce will advise the Municipal Association of Victoria Board on a campaign to reinstate the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund (LASF) Defined Benefit Plan as an exempt public sector scheme. Rob Spence, Chief Executive of the MAV, said unfair rules required local government to maintain a fully funded super scheme which would require councils to top up a $396.9 million shortfall from July 1 next year. Mr Spence said although it was closed to new members in 1993, current laws required local government’s defined benefit scheme to hold enough funds to meet the retirement benefits owed to members now and into the future. He said if current assets fell below what was needed to pay current and future benefits, then employers were required to make top-up payments – it was proving a volatile and unpredictable model for which councils couldn’t plan ahead. Mr Spence said an exemption for other public sector schemes allowed the Federal Government to have an unfunded defined benefit liability of around $61 billion. The Victorian Government’s liability exceeded $29 billion. At a briefing in early July, councils agreed to unite to fight for legislative reform that put local government on an equal footing with exempt state and federal schemes. Mr Spence said as well as seeking legislative changes, the MAV would continue its negotiations with the State for councils to access lower borrowing rates through the Treasury Corporation of Victoria to help pay the shortfall.


LGSA takes aim at Canberra over grants The Local Government and Shires Associations of New South Wales claim a “substantial overestimation” by Canberra in the amount of Financial Assistance Grant (FAG) funding means councils across the state will be forced to reassess and modify their adopted 2012-13 budgets. The associations said NSW councils were recently advised of Federal Government adjustments to the FAGs by the NSW Grants Commission. President of the Shires Association, Ray Donald, said councils planned their budgets incorporating projections for Financial Assistance Grants. Cr Donald said it was “a disgrace” that the FAG estimates for 2011-12 were so over-inflated that many councils would be short of the funds needed to carry out critical local services and vital capital works projects planned for in their budgets. He said several councils had already advised him they were considering postponing or cancelling projects which were to be funded from FAGs. Cr Donald said because of the government’s gross miscalculation, many NSW councils no longer had the necessary funds to see through their 2012-13 projects and this would be disastrous for the communities impacted. He called on the government to honour the full estimated amount of FAGs for 2011-12 to ensure councils could fulfil their commitments and planned activities as adopted in their current budgets. Vice President (Country) of the Local Government Association, Allan Smith, said while it was normal for grant adjustments to be made, the 2012-13 “negative” adjustment was abnormally larger than previous years and would have a detrimental effect on councils and their communities.


City of Sydney to increase use of solar power The City of Sydney has selected Solgen Energy to undertake a $6 million project to install solar panels on major city-owned buildings, grandstands, depots and libraries. Solgen Energy will fit solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to more than 30 sites over the next two years to generate 12.5 per cent of the electricity needs of all city properties. The buildings to be installed with solar power include Town Hall House, Redfern Oval grandstand, Railway Square Bus Interchange, Sydney Park Pavilion, and towns halls in Paddington, Redfern and Glebe. The panels will have an electrical capacity of more than 1,250 kWp (kilowatt peak), making the project Australia’s largest building-mounted solar PV initiative. The panels could produce nearly 2,000,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity a year and are expected to reduce the city’s annual carbon pollution by 2,100 tonnes. Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the solar PV project would not produce any pollution when generating electricity unlike coal-fired power. Ms Moore said energy produced locally through solar panels, trigeneration systems or fuel cells would reduce the need to spend billions of dollars on new coal-fired power stations and network upgrades, which were driving up household electricity bills. The City has already installed solar hot water and/or photovoltaic systems on 18 sites at a cost of $1 million, including Sydney Town Hall. The largest installation was 240 solar panels installed on the historic Sydney Town Hall. Together these projects have reduced carbon pollution by 180 tonnes a year.


$5m for councils to deliver NBN-enabled services Five million dollars in Federal funding is being made available to help 14 local governments around Australia take advantage of the National Broadband Network to provide better services to their communities. The funding will be used to deliver a range of NBN-enabled services, including high-definition videoconferencing to enable greater access to council staff and improved efficiencies in council operations. Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, said videoconferencing over the NBN was a great way to bolster important frontline support delivered by councils, as well as other services that required significant consultation, like building and development applications. Senator Conroy said the network also meant residents could participate more easily in town hall meetings and council workshops, without needing to travel long distances to be there in person. He said this was particularly relevant for Australians living in regional areas where the travel required could prohibit such engagement. The local governments to receive funding were: Circular Head, Dorset, George Town, Glamorgan Spring Bay, and Sorell in Tasmania; Armidale Dumaresq, Blacktown and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales; Ipswich and Toowoomba in Queensland; Greater Geraldton and Town of Victoria Park in Western Australia; Tea Tree Gully in South Australia; and ACT Government in the ACT. Aug-Sep 2012 Council Manager | 5

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Assessing council asset and financial management processes A tool that will enable local governments around Australia to assess their current asset and financial management processes in line with nationally consistent measures was expected to be available shortly. The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government said the National Assessment Framework (NAF) on-line Portal was nearing completion. The ACELG said the assessment framework was designed to allow councils to evaluate progress with implementing the Local Government and Planning Ministers’ Council (LGPMC) National Sustainability Frameworks. It would soon have final testing with select councils. The Sustainability Frameworks provide nationally consistent elements for all local government authorities to more sustainably manage their community infrastructure through effective asset management and financial planning. The ACELG said state and territory governments had agreed to facilitate implementation of the sustainability frameworks across their local governments. The centre said it was bringing forward a national tool which was proposed as a structured online questionnaire to evaluate progress with implementing the elements of the National Sustainability Frameworks. The outputs of the questionnaire would enable a council to measure its progress against the Sustainability Frameworks. 6 | Council Manager Aug-Sep 2012


Five Vic councils at serious risk from sea-level rise Five local governments in Victoria have been classified as “most at risk” from rises in sea level in a report by the Climate Commission. The report – ‘The Critical Decade: Victorian Climate Impacts and Opportunities’ – says climate change will affect Victoria through temperature increase, sea-level rise, extreme weather events, changes in rainfall patterns and drought. It says global sea-level rise is tracking near the highest levels scientists expect and a 1 metre rise over this century is now a serious risk threatening the state’s beaches, thousands of homes and commercial buildings. The report lists Greater Geelong, Hobsons Bay, Port Phillip, Kingston and Wellington local governments as the most at-risk areas in Victoria. It also says conditions for large and intense bushfires are likely to become more common in the future.


ACCC releases

initial data about carbon price complaints Landfill is one of the sectors that have attracted the highest number of complaints and enquiries about the carbon price since the introduction on July 1 of the Federal Government’s carbon pricing mechanism (CPM). The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received over 630 complaints and enquiries about the carbon price – it said after energy, the sectors that had been the subject of the most complaints and enquiries were landfill, building and construction and refrigerant gases. The ACCC said complaints regarding landfill had been received in relation to price increases. It said calculating pass-through costs associated with the CPM in relation to landfill was a very complex issue faced by local governments and landfill operators. Calculations were affected by factors such as the size of the operation, use of abatement mechanisms, any discount rates that might apply and the price of emissions in the future. The commission said calculations were further complicated by the 40-year decay period on landfill during which the operator was liable for emissions produced. It said as with energy retailers, the ACCC had been in contact with a number of local governments and industry associations to understand their approach. The ACCC said the highest category of complaints received had been about claims made by energy retailers, especially in relation to price increases on electricity bills.

Public Sector Efficiency

Tuesday 9th Wednesday 10th October 2012 The Menzies Sydney NSW

Optimising systems and processes to achieve more with less • Solutions for improving government systems, processes & performance while maintaining quality service delivery • Two days of practical advice on how to achieve efficient organisational performance in today’s challenging public sector environment • Advice for local, state & federal government departments and authorities

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER ONLINE VISIT WWW.EFFICIENCYCONFERENCE.COM.AU With all levels of Australian government under pressure to deliver quality services and manage complex organisations with limited financial resources, this conference will provide public sector professionals with knowledge and solutions to successfully generate efficiencies and optimise systems and processes.

Key Topics Will Include Optimising processes and systems to enhance organisational performance; Driving successful organisational change; Delivering enterprise-wide solutions; Utilising shared services; New technologies for enhancing public sector performance.

Conference attendees will be supplied with practical case studies and advice they can immediately use to improve efficiencies, performance and productivity within their own organisations. This event will be designed for professionals working in both large and small government organisations at local, state and federal level.

Speakers Include Dr Jonathan Gray, Senior Researcher/Director, NICTA (National ICT Australia) John Papatheohari, General Manager, HealthSMART Services, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Victorian Department of Health Dave Walker, General Manager, and Steve Dobis, Principal Advisor Business Improvement, The Hills Shire Council Thomas Ryan, Assistant Commissioner, Debt for the Australian Taxation Office, Brisbane Ann Yardley, Manager, Business Solutions, Sunshine Coast Regional Council Warren van Wyk, Outcomes and Performance Manager, Logan City Council Florence Luk, Financial Analyst, Victorian Department of Business & Innovation Alan Dormer, Science Leader, Government and Commercial Services, CSIRO Malcolm Ryan, Deputy General Manager, Warringah Council Uday Kulkarni, Network Controller, Penrith City Council Conference program includes Interactive Workshop on the topic ‘Overcoming enterprise inefficiencies’.

For conference registration and attendance enquiries please contact: Registration Manager Ph: (03) 8534 5050 Sponsorship & Exhibition Enquiries: Brian Rault, Sales Manager GTR Events | CommStrat Ph: (03) 8534 5014 PLATINUM SPONSOR





‘Australian-first app’ launched Randwick City Council in Sydney has launched what it claims is an Australianfirst smartphone app that will change the way residents and ratepayers interact with the council. The free application is now live and Randwick’s Mayor, Scott Nash, said the difference between myRANDWICK and other council apps was in its customised approach providing a user-centric experience. Cr Nash said the way most people received, shared and provided information had changed dramatically and Randwick was committed to giving residents options about how they received information and how they interacted with council. He said the council decided to develop an app that put residents and ratepayers first, and provided local information about their property, their street and suburb. The features of myRANDWICK include: • Automatic notifications for new Development Applications (DAs); • Reminders for bin night, DAs and events; • Daily beach condition reports; • Local news and events based on residents’ suburbs; • Live details of the next garbage, recycling and green waste collection; • Interactive maps of suburbs showing parks, pools, libraries and facilities; • Ability to lodge a DA submission; • Book a free cleanup; • Report problems for council to fix; and • Contact details for council, ward councillors and local precincts. Mayor Nash said a lot of Randwick’s residents were time-poor because they led busy professional lives and had families, and the council wanted to make interacting available 24/7. He said the council already received more than 80,000 visits a year to its website from mobile devices. The app is integrated with Facebook and Twitter which gives users the ability to share content. It is available as both an app from the Apple App Store as well as a mobile site – making it accessible for all 8 | Council Manager Aug-Sep 2012

types of smartphones. Further information on myRANDWICK can be accessed from

ACELG Director to retire The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government is losing its inaugural director, Graham Sansom. Professor Sansom has advised the ACELG Board that he will be retiring at the end of 2012. Professor Sansom is Director of the UTS Centre for Local Government and heads an Independent Local Government Review Panel looking at new council structures, models and governance arrangements in local government in New South Wales. The Panel was appointed in March 2012 as the first initiative arising from Destination 2036, a state-local government partnership assessing the next 25 years of local government in NSW. Professor Sansom has over 30 years experience in local and state government, tertiary teaching and consultancy – he has held senior positions with councils, a regional organisation of councils, and state agencies in New South Wales and Western Australia. He was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Local Government Association from 1994 to 1998. In addition, he has established extensive links with local government bodies in the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe, as well as various international groupings of local authorities.

Melbourne the world’s most liveable city – again Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city for the second year in a row by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The British-based unit makes its assessment of cities/states against five

criteria: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Melbourne out-pointed other top international cities including Vancouver, Vienna, Auckland and Helsinki to take the title. There are three other Australian capitals ranked in the top 10 – they are Adelaide at number six, Sydney at number seven and Perth at number nine. Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, said the city’s parks and gardens, cultural precincts, restaurant scene and major events calendar all contributed to the title. Lord Mayor Doyle said the rankings were always very close and the City of Melbourne was proud to be number one for two years in a row. “We are honoured to be considered the most liveable place amongst a field of truly international cities,” he said. “This is a great result for Melbourne and for our tourism and international education reputation.”

Local governments share in major stormwater funding Projects to be implemented by seven local governments are included in nine sustainable stormwater harvesting and reuse projects that will receive more than $42 million in Federal funding. The projects will help secure water supplies in urban areas across Australia. They will provide more than 5.5 billion litres of treated stormwater a year and improve water security by diversifying water supplies available in the urban areas. The councils involved are from New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. The largest funding allocation to a council was more than $10 million to Light Regional Council at Gawler in South Australia for a water re-use project. The local government projects were awarded funding under the third round of the Stormwater Harvesting and Reuse Projects initiative.

NGAA backs funding

Melbourne dominates

for outer growth areas

population growth

The National Growth Areas Alliance has welcomed the first funding for successful projects under the Federal Government’s Suburban Jobs Program. Members of the alliance comprise 25 of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia – located on the outskirts of major cities – and NGAA Chair, Paul Pisasale, said employment and productivity were important no matter where people lived. Under the initial funding, the University of Western Sydney has been allocated $13.5 million to create the Werrington Park Employment Catalyst, a business park designed to attract businesses to western Sydney. The university will partner with Penrith City Council and the Penrith Business Alliance to deliver the project which will focus on attracting enterprises in the E-health, digital communications, and intelligent engineering sectors. The businesses will take advantage of the National Broadband Network to distribute knowledge services to local, national and global markets. Cr Pisasale, also the Mayor of Ipswich, said he was “thrilled the government has recognised our growth areas through this program” He said Australian cities ranked highly on global liveability league tables, but he questioned the liveability of the fastest growing suburbs on the outskirts of cities. Cr Pisasale said people living in those areas had fewer employment opportunities and worse outcomes than average city dwellers. He said the Suburban Jobs program was “very modest” but it would help realise the potential to turn around the fortunes of such growing areas. Mayor Pisasale said the government had given NGAA growth areas a clear indication of its interest in improving access to employment for residents and the alliance looked forward to some great outcomes from these projects. More information about the Suburban Jobs Program is available at www.environment.

The areas with the largest population growth in Australia during the decade between June 2001 and June 2011 were all on the outskirts of Melbourne, according to the latest research by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The ABS data showed the largest increase was in South Morang, up 32,200 people. Point Cook, Caroline Springs and Tarneit in Melbourne’s west followed, each with growth of more than 20,000 people. South Morang is in the City of Whittlesea, Point Cook and Tarneit are in the in the City of Wyndham and Caroline Springs is in Melton Shire. The bureau’s figures showed Melbourne had the largest growth of all capital cities (up 647,200 people). Growth in Melbourne’s outer suburbs contributed the most to Victoria’s population growth. In other cities, Parklea-Kellyville Ridge, in the City of Blacktown on Sydney’s northwestern fringes had the largest population growth, up 18,700 people; and Ellenbrook in the City of Swan, to the north-east of Perth’s CBD, increased by 17,700 people. Three-quarters of population growth in NSW was in Sydney. The areas with the largest growth were Parklea – Kellyville Ridge (up 18,700 people) and Kellyville (11,900), both in Sydney’s north-west growth corridor. Perth had the fastest growth of all capital cities in Australia (26%). Most of this growth was in the outer suburban fringes of the city.

Board announced

diversity of affordable housing and accelerate the renewal of social housing stock. SA Housing and Urban Development Minister, Patrick Conlon, said the government had a commitment, through the URA, to work with councils, industry and not-for-profit organisations to ensure urban developments created well planned and better connected neighbourhoods that were close to transport, employment and services. Mr Conlon said the URA brought together a “significant portfolio of the State’s assets” valued at more than $10 billion – assets from the former Land Management Corporation, Defence SA and the South Australian Housing Trust.

City of Sydney to reuse stormwater The City of Sydney plans to roll out a citywide system of stormwater recycling to dramatically reduce harbour pollution and ensure Sydney’s water supply. Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the city’s research showed more than half of Sydney’s future water demand could be met with non-drinking water. Ms Moore said council needed to take decisive action now to drought-proof the city and ensure it is less dependent on dam levels. The Lord Mayor said there had been a lot of rain recently, but the lessons from years of drought were that a flexible, adaptable and resilient water system was needed to cope with climate variability. Ms Moore said the stormwater run-off from roofs, roads, paths, parks and other open areas was a valuable alternative supply of water for non- drinking purposes.

to head SA’s Urban Renewal Authority A former Victorian Government Minister, Bronwyn Pike, has been appointed Chair of a seven-member board to oversee South Australia’s Urban Renewal Authority. The authority (known as URA) was established last March by the SA Government to deliver and increase the supply and Aug-Sep 2012 Council Manager | 9

BEST practice in local government conference

Local governments strive for best practice


ethods for achieving a culture of excellence in local government organisations were analysed at the recent annual Benchmarking Best Practice in Local Government Conference. Nearly 200 delegates from local governments across Australia gathered in Melbourne during July for Australia’s national conference on local government organisational development and performance improvement – the 5th Annual Benchmarking Best Practice in Local Government Conference. The conference commenced with presentations from Nick Heath, General Manager of Hobart City Council and Chair of the Local Government Business Excellence Network, and Dr Michael Kennedy, CEO of Mornington Peninsula Shire. Mr Heath provided delegates with an update on the operations of LGBEN and Hobart’s journey of organisational development, while Dr Kennedy delivered a “coach’s perspective” on achieving local government best practice.

Other presentations on Day One included Melissa Gibbs’ update on the many projects being delivered by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, and a Workshop facilitated by Human Synergistics Chairman ANZ, Shaun McCarthy. The workshop focused on how local governments can achieve excellence through leadership and culture. Day Two of the conference included a presentation from Damian West, Group Manager Client Engagement for the Australian Public Service Commission, which described the APS’ Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration, which contained a number of interesting learnings for the local government sector. Denise Bennett, Lean Program Manager at the City of Melbourne, led a presentation describing how lean thinking can be successfully implemented within local government organisations. Information about the 2013 Benchmarking Best Practice in Local Government Conference will be announced in coming months.


Gold Sponsor

Endorsing Organisations

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Bronze Sponsors

Media Partner

LocaL Government

oHS & riSk ManageMent

13 & 14 marcH 2013 The Menzies | sydney The 6th Local Government OHS & Risk Management Conference - Australia’s national conference for OHS and risk management professionals in the local government sector - will be held at The Menzies, Sydney, on 13 & 14 March 2013. The conference is again supported by the National Safety Council of Australia. As Australian councils face the need to address an increasingly complex risk environment, this conference will again provide attendees with expert advice and practical case studies that will showcase how local government organisations can ensure they are implementing best practice OHS and risk management systems and cultures. This event also provides attendees with the means to network with the OHS and risk management professionals of leading local governments from across Australia. This conference is organised by Hallmark Conferences & Events, producer of the annual Benchmarking Best Practice in Local Government Conference and publisher of Council Manager magazine and Local Government News.

CALL FOR SPEAKERS: To propose a presentation for this conference, please email a 300-word summary of the presentation to Conference Convenor, Ben Hutchison by Friday, October 5 via


WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Local Government OHS Managers, Risk Management Coordinators, Senior Executives, HR Managers, Corporate Development Managers, Organisational Development Managers, Internal Auditor/Ombudsman, etc. TO ATTEND: To register your attendance at this event, visit

For conference registration & attendance enquiries please contact: Registration Manager

Sponsorship & Exhibition Enquiries: Paul Andrew – Sponsorship & Exhibition Manager

Ph: (03) 8534 5050


Ph: (03) 9370 0040 Email:


Local Government News

Local government moves forward on priority issues By Mayor Genia McCaffery, ALGA President


s this will be the last column I write for Council Manager Magazine as ALGA President, prior to my retirement from local government in September 2012, I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on my work with ALGA over the last two years. Constitutional recognition of local government has been a key priority of mine since I was elected to the presidency in November 2010. For many years, local government has argued that we can only protect direct federal funding for community services and infrastructure by local government being recognised in the Australian Constitution. The decision to hold a referendum by 2013 on the recognition of local government in the Constitution was made by Prime Minister Julia Gillard when forming Government in 2010. Since then we have worked hard to ensure that the Government, the Opposition and all political parties at the federal level are informed of ALGA’s preferred option of financial recognition and our commitment to a referendum on this issue at a time which maximises the chance for success. In June 2011, the Government established an Expert Panel on the Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, which was chaired by former New South Wales Chief Justice, James Spigelman. I was a member of the Expert Panel, as was ALGA Board representative, Councillor Paul Bell. The Expert Panel released a final report on 22 December last year supporting ALGA’s case for the financial recognition of local government in the Constitution through a simple change to section 96 to allow the continuation of direct funding. Government Minister Simon Crean indicated that the Government would need to make a decision about the referendum by October. The Government’s support and leadership for constitutional change is critical and we will continue to advocate for a referendum. During my time as President, we ran a successful national campaign to extend the Federal Government’s Roads to Recovery (R2R) program. The campaign culminated in the Government’s announcement during the 2012-13 Budget to provide additional funding to assist councils to maintain local roads and extend the R2R program from 2014 to 2019 at $350 million a year. The Government also announced that it would provide blackspot funding of $60 million a year for five years from 2014-19 and, in addition, provide $20 million a year over seven years from 2012-13 12 | Council Manager Aug-Sep 2012

for heavy vehicle safety, including more rest stops for truck drivers. ALGA had argued that both initiatives were vital to help achieve the target of a 30% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on the nation’s roads by 2020.

We can only protect direct federal funding for community services and infrastructure by local government being recognised in the Australian Constitution. We argued strongly that small landfills should be exempted from the Australian Government’s carbon pricing legislation. The original draft legislation would have seen small landfill facilities, with direct annual emissions of between 10,000 and 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, liable under the carbon price mechanism. The amended legislation addresses local government’s concerns about the impact of a carbon price on small landfills, many of which are owned by councils. Other priorities that ALGA continues to work on include a review of general purpose funding provided to local government by the Commonwealth in the form of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs). ALGA sought a review and welcomed the Government’s announcement in the 2011-12 Budget that there would be a review into the equity and efficiency of the FAGs program. Over the last decade, local government has consistently raised more than 80% of its total revenue from its own sources. An underlying principle of The Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 is that the Commonwealth should distribute a proportion of revenue to local government to support the building of resilient and prosperous communities. The FAGs are intended to improve local government’s capacity to provide effective and efficient local services and infrastructure. ALGA looks forward to working with the Government on the review. I am confident that the interests of councils will continue to be represented passionately at the federal level under Presidentelect Felicity-Ann Lewis, Mayor of Marion, South Australia. I congratulate Mayor Lewis on her appointment and look forward to working with her during her transition to the presidency.




ceo profile

Growing Geraldton: steering the development of a regional city City of Greater Geraldton CEO Tony Brun details how the council is employing a range of innovative measures to ensure the city’s growth is sustainably managed.


ituated on Western Australia’s mid-west coast, the City of Greater Geraldton is experiencing strong population growth chiefly as a result of the local resources boom. In the following edited extract of an interview with Council Manager magazine, Tony Brun, the City’s CEO since 2008, describes the measures being implemented to ensure the council is able to provide the services and infrastructure needed to cater for Geraldton’s growth.

Council Manager: Given the growth-related challenges that Geraldton is facing, what are your key goals for the organisation? TONY BRUN: Our principal one is to get ourselves in a position to be able to sustain the growth that’s happening around us and translate it into a lasting legacy, both within the organisation and within the community. So by that what I mean is leveraging off major projects, off grants, off works that we are doing ourselves and others are doing, to just go that notch further than we otherwise would have as part of business as normal. And the other part we’re doing…we’ve done a lot of work where we partner with universities - looking at building in research 14 | Council Manager Aug-Sep 2012

and systems, so rather than doing it through a traditional consultancy what we look at when sometimes delivering a project is building the capacity of the organisation and then building that into our systems - so we don’t have to re-learn things over and over again.

How exactly do you hope to improve the capacity of your organisation going forward? Well, one of our major focus areas was what we call the ‘2029 and Beyond’ project. That was a joint venture project with Curtin University. We got an ARC Grant - a big part of it was a focus on what’s called “deliberative democracy” and 21st century town hall principles of engagement, and we had cafe engagement models. What we’ve sought to do there is build that system of learning, of how to engage and how to plan, and look strategically in a whole range of different areas and then embed that so it becomes common business for all work areas - so that we don’t have all engagement done by a community engagement team. Every area does this as part of their process and their strategic planning, so that engagement becomes part of the strategic planning process and working out the future direction of each unit.

What is the scale of growth that Geraldton is facing and what are the issues that your organisation needs to address? Well it’s a difficult story to actually work out what’s happening with growth. We

know based on the projects around us there’s currently $27 billion dollars worth of projects on the books in the region, and they have a varied impact. Some are being resourced almost externally from the region through direct fly-in, fly-out models, so we don’t see a lot, and others are almost totally ingrained within the city and the region and are having a fairly strong stimulus effect to the local economy - so they’re bringing in a lot of extra people and jobs and changing the structure of the local economy. We’re actually seeing the whole framework of the community change. The population has grown by a third in the last decade - which is a big change. Over that same period our economy as a GDP went from just over $2 billion to just over $4 billion, so there’s a doubling in the regional economy, and we’re expecting that to grow to a $22 billion economy by the mid 2020s. Now the difficulty we’ve got is we don’t know how much of that’s going to translate to population. So what we’ve decided is we’ll take a guess - we haven’t gone to the optimistically wild sort of growth zone. So we said what are some of the leverage factors that have happened elsewhere in Australia especially, so we looked at comparisons with Mackay and Townsville and those sorts of places, that have had similar growth zones in the previous decade. Our view is that (the population will grow to) between 80,000 to 110,000 - from a current 40,000 - by the mid 2020s. Now that’s caused some criticism because some people will say there’s no way you will grow that much, but our view is it’s not the point of saying “is that forecast right”, we’ve actually built it into our vision and

How are you going to financially afford what you will need to provide in terms of community infrastructure and services to cope with this rapid growth?

City of Greater Geraldton CEO, Tony Brun

our statement for a strategic plan is to have the capacity to sustain a population of that change. And that’s a subtle difference to saying “we will have that population”. What we want to be in a position is, if we do get hit with rapid growth, our infrastructure and services can cope with it. And we’ve looked to our north, to the Pilbara, and seen what happens when you don’t do that. When everything is planned to the nth degree on very fine and accurate numbers of “we’re going to grow by 1500 people by the next five years” and they almost get to the point where some of the state modelling was like “we’ll have 1576 new people who will come”, and you go “gee that’s very accurate” and then they only plan for that. So when something drastic happens, like what’s happened with the iron ore industry and the Pilbara’s grown and they get an extra 10,000 people, you get a housing crisis almost overnight. Yet for the margin of investment that was required…it’s actually not a lot more. So that’s basically what we’ve based our whole planning around and our long-term strategic direction is framing our capacity to sustain population growth so that we don’t end up in a position of market forces taking things out of our control.

Because once we lose that control, house prices will spiral out of control, rents will spiral out of control, it will be difficult to get workers, we start losing quality of life, and the consequences are significant - all by not planning to sustain a certain level of growth.

What’s your staff level and budget at the moment? At the moment we’re 330 FTEs and interestingly because of the merger (since 2007 Geraldton has amalgamated with the shires of Greenough and Mullewa) we were mindful of the sensitivities of amalgamations, and there’s always the view that your staff or expenses climb with amalgamation, so we actually self-imposed and have had in place for four years now a staff cap even though we’ve had that rapid population growth. And our budget’s gone up considerably, so now we’ve got an operating and capital budget this year that’s just been adopted of $137 million. Our rates only account for $37 million of that, so we’ve had to diversify our game. Now we run airports, major waste facilities, family daycare and land development - that’s our other arm that is a significant part our business.

We’re having to make some hard calls. Council’s had to adopt a financial sustainability strategy and policy that’s been embedded into our budget, because the first thing we needed to address was fully funding our asset depreciation - so ensuring our annual budget for asset renewal and asset replacement equalled our asset depreciation. Now, in Western Australia it’s just not done. Four years ago we were sitting between 10% and 20% of our asset depreciation that we booked, we were actually spending on asset renewal and replacement. In other words, our asset value was declining - we just weren’t replacing the infrastructure that we had out there. So we’ve had to go on a fairly aggressive program now of getting up to a point, and we’ve got a target so that by 2020 we fully fund that. So this year we had a fairly substantial jump, and over the last few years we’ve actually been dedicating a portion of our rate increase - so we’ve been rating above CPI - and putting money aside on one side for asset renewal and on the other side for a specific reserve fund for capital development to enable us to get matching funds for grants and doing projects. This year our asset depreciation was $14 million, we’ve got up to $8.7 million of it as cash-back. So it’s real investment that we’re doing and replacing. So that’s up, as I said, from $1-$2 million. And we have a plan that by 2020, because of the growth of our assets, our depreciation will be $20 million, so our plan is to get that $8.7 million to climb and hit $20 million in 2020. So at that stage we will be in a position that, as an organisation, we will be funding out of our own reserves and out of our own finances, the renewal and replacement of our assets. So we’ve made that priority one - so let’s lock in what we’ve got and look after it and replace it. Aug-Sep 2012 Council Manager | 15

ceo profile

Priority two, then, is funding our future development, so we know that we’ve got to build up our cash reserves. So again we’ve dedicated funding - it’s 1.25% of every year’s rate increase and it’s just a cumulative build - that gets recurrently transferred to a reserve and that’s with the aim of building up an annual cash reserve for us to go out and bid for grants. Like in this financial year we’ve got some major projects - we’ve got $9 million from the Federal Government from ‘Building Better Regional Cities’, from the Regional Development Australia fund we got another $4.9 million for some foreshore enhancement projects. We’ve just recently been announced for another $1.2 million for NBN. Now, to achieve all that significant funding - and then on top of that we’re also going for considerable Royalties for Regions funding we’ve had to find matching funding. So, again, it’s been (about) building up our financial position to be able to match that, and that’s meant higher - and in some cases significantly higher than CPI - rate increases.

Are you doing some innovative things to get revenue rolling in, for example you mentioned land development?

Land development’s a large one for us. So what we’ve been doing is working with the State Government on identifying where we can do land swaps, or crown land swaps where we can acquire crown land. We might have some freehold land where it is sitting under an asset or an area where it’s not used, and another place we might have a crown reserve which is a better form of tenure to fit under that use - like a sporting field - so we’ve been working with the state to rationalise our crown and freehold reserves and develop them. So we’ve been running a program of land development in those areas, and that’s releasing residential and light industrial land. But we’ve also had a strategy of acquiring land. 16 | Council Manager Aug-Sep 2012

We picked up 170 hectares of urban zone land. Out of that we will be doing a 229 lot subdivision. We will do in the order of 110 hectares of light industry, a 22 hectare sports precinct and a 30 hectare bushland reserve. That will basically provide us a fairly strong revenue stream over a 10 year period as that land gets rolled out, sold and developed. There is a risk obviously associated with being in the land development game, but one of the advantages we have is that we’ve got the capacity to provide infrastructure to make land that is probably otherwise not commercially viable for a private developer. So in this case we were able to access Building Better Regional Cities funding to help build road connections, water, sewerage and power infrastructure to that site.

How many new staff do you hope to employ going forward? We’re working still at this time at maintaining that staff cap for at least another three years. So the way we’re getting around that is with each vacancy that occurs we’ll review the priority of that, so every FTE becomes sacred effectively and every vacancy basically goes back into the pool and we work out is that actually the best value for money for that vacancy? So it might mean that a position is not only reallocated from within a branch or a department, or anywhere in the organisation if there is a higher or better use for that FTE.

Financially, it’s all about underpinning sustainable growth? We’ve got to be mindful that because we’re having to spend so much on our asset renewal, and even find cash for our new asset infrastructure development and matching grants, we just simply don’t have in our forward estimates enough slack there to put to additional staff. That’s the tradeoff we’ve had to make.

Over the past four years we’d already identified 1.5% incremental efficiency gains and cuts within our operations. The total of that ended up being 5.75% over that period, and now that equates to, in today’s dollars, a recurrent saving for us in the order of $1.9 million per annum - of savings in our operations. And what we’ve done is that we’ve banked that straight in and transferred that saving to asset renewal investment.

Finally Tony, are there other cities that you are modelling yourselves on? Are there any in particular that you want to emulate?

There’s clearly some leaders out there. In terms of partnering and developing a strong, coherent future, Geelong is without doubt a model economy and city. In terms of seeing what’s happening around the country, Mackay is definitely a place of interest, because they’re probably at the same phase as us or they’re just ahead of us in terms of the growth curve and what they’re experiencing. So we see that there’s a lot to learn off cities like Mackay. And then in terms of where we aspire to be, a place like Townsville is probably 20 to 30 years ahead of our growth curve. And they are there as an established, genuine regional capital. They’re almost an alternate metropolitan centre without being a million-plus metropolitan centre, but when you look at what is almost as good as a match as an alternate, well Townsville as far as we’re concerned is there. So that’s another close model for us, and we engage with these councils and chat to them on a regular and irregular basis, and we encourage our staff to chat through there. So there’s nothing formalised, but definitely we keep a roving eye on them. For more information about the City of Greater Geraldton visit

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