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CONFERENCE GUIDE INSIDE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OHS & RISK MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE 2013
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18 20 NEWS TOP 10 NEWS STORIES.................... 2
SUTHERLAND CONTINUES TO REAP BENEFITS OF INTEGRATED PROPERTY STRATEGY By Derril Greenway..................................... 30
ADVANCING THE CASE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE
Monitoring the comings and goings
By Felicity-ann Lewis, ALGA President....... 12
of council CEOs........................................ 34
PROFILE TRANSFORMING PERCEPTIONS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT....................... 14
FEATURES TAKING A STEP BACK: RETRACING BUSINESS EXCELLENCE BACK TO DEMING By Kylie Cantwell........................................ 16
NEW PAPER POINTS TO INNOVATION IMPERATIVE By Dr John Howard.......................................18
COUNCIL LEADERS The Mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo..... 41
COUNCIL PROFILE NEW PLANNING LAWS MEAN NEW BEGINNING FOR FREMANTLE
By Rex Pannell.......................................... 42
Editor: Ben Hutchison
PRODUCTS & SERVICES TRAINING FOR COUNCILS............... 44
Graphic Designer: Nicholas Thorne Contributors: Rex Pannell, Ben Hutchison, Felicity-ann Lewis, Kylie Cantwell, Derril Greenway,
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY MAKES WAVES IN PORT CITY
Tony Harb & Mitchell Morley, Catherine Dunlop. Sales and Marketing: Yuri Mamistvalov Tel: +61 3 8534 5008
By City of Fremantle.................................. 20
RISK MANAGEMENT: BREAKING DOWN UNCERTAINTY
Subscriptions: Ruth Spiegel Tel: +61 3 8534 5009
By Tony Harb & Mitchell Morley.................... 24
LEGAL BRIEFING MANAGING RISK TO EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS FOR COUNCILS By Catherine Dunlop................................... 26
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OHS & RISK MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE GUIDE INSIDE
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Autumn 2013 Council Manager | 1
TOP 10 NEWS
TOP NEWS STORIES
A big year ahead for local government
As we head into 2013, it is becoming clear that this year will certainly be a significant one for Australian local government. The outcome of the September 14 Federal Election will likely precipitate a range of reforms – particularly if there is a change in government. After many local governments have devoted staff and resources for several years to the goal of attracting the National Broadband Network roll-out to their municipalities and leveraging the benefits of super-fast broadband, the election of a Coalition Government would likely require councils to substantially change the focus of their efforts to grow the Digital Economy of their local communities. The Australian Local Government Association is also fighting for a historic referendum to be staged on election day that would seek to recognise local government in the Australian Constitution. And with efforts well under way to formulate plans for significant structural reform of local government in states such as NSW and WA, 2013 could well deliver many significant changes for councils. I hope you enjoy the March 2013 edition of Council Manager. Sincerely, Ben Hutchison, EDITOR, Council Manager firstname.lastname@example.org 2 | Council Manager Autumn 2013
1 Councils pay nearly $500m in ‘cost shifting’ New South Wales councils were out-ofpocket by nearly $500 million in the 2010/11 financial year due to cost shifting by the state and federal governments, according to the latest annual survey by the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW. The associations have renewed their calls for an end to cost shifting following the release of the survey results which showed $499 million worth of responsibilities and functions of the state and federal governments had been shifted to councils. This equated to 5.72% of the total income of local government in NSW, before capital amounts. President of the Shires Association of NSW, Ray Donald, said the findings were consistent with results of the last five surveys, highlighting the continual moves by the state and federal governments to palm their responsibilities on to local government without the corresponding funding. “The LGSA has asked the same 23 questions in the past five surveys, with an additional two questions added to the 2009/10 survey and again in collecting the 2010/11 data,” Cr Donald said. “If we include those two additional questions, which relate to revenue-raising restrictions on council-managed Crown lands and the shortfall of cost recovery as a result of fee regulation when assessing development applications, cost shifting is estimated at 6.37% of local government’s total income before capital amounts or $555 million.” President of the Local Government Association of NSW, Keith Rhoades, said 86 councils participated in the survey, which was conducted between May and November 2012, clearly indicating that cost shifting is a significant issue impacting on their operations.
UPCOMING EVENTS 2013 Local Government OHS & Risk Management Conference Sydney - March 13 & 14, 2013 Visit www.lgnews.com.au/lgohs
8th Australian Road Engineering & Maintenance Conference Melbourne - March 13 & 14, 2013 Visit www.roadconference.com.au
Social Media for the Public Sector Sydney - March 19 & 20, 2013 www.govtechreview.com.au/publicsectorsocialmedia
Public Sector Workforce Planning Conference Melbourne - April 16 & 17, 2013 For more information email www.publicsectorworkforceplanning.com.au
Local Government NBN & Future Online Services Conference Sydney - May 8 & 9, 2013 Visit www.govtechreview.com.au/lgnbn
2nd CBD & Town Centre Design and Development Conference Sydney - June 19 & 20, 2013 Visit www.cbdconference.com.au
National Community Safety & Security Conference Melbourne – June 4 & 5, 2013 Visit www.communitysafetyconference.com.au
Reinventing Government Customer Service Conference Melbourne – June 25 & 26, 2013 Visit www.governmentcustomerservice.com.au
2013 Best Practice in Local Government Conference Melbourne – August 14 & 15, 2013 Visit www.lgnews.com.au/lgbestpractice
15th AAPA International Flexible Pavements Conference Brisbane – September 22 to 25, 2013 Visit www.aapaconference.com.au
2013 Government Sustainability Conference Melbourne – 7 & 8 October, 2013 Visit www.enviroinfo.com.au/govsus
3rd Local Government & Public Sector Building Maintenance & Management Conference Melbourne – 19 & 20 November, 2013 Visit www.buildingmaintenanceconference.com.au
For further details regarding these conferences please visit:
TOP 10 NEWS
ALGA lodges Federal Budget submission The key focus of the 2013-14 Federal Budget submission by the Australian Local Government Association is on the constitutional recognition of local government to remove the uncertainty around the direct federal funding of the sector. A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee is determining the viability of a referendum on the issue. The ALGA’s submission states that to allow a referendum at the 2013 Federal Election, $75 million should be set aside in order to ensure a strong public campaign and a successful outcome. It says should the government determine that the referendum be held on a standalone basis, the funding required will be closer to $150 million. The submission also calls for a full review of the Financial Assistance Grants program; permanent funding through the Roads to Recovery program; and the prevention of cost and responsibility shifting onto local government by the states and territories. The ALGA also reiterated the need for greater disaster mitigation funding, an issue pursued consistently in recent years. To assist councils confronting natural disasters, the ALGA contends the 2013-14 Budget should include: • $50 million over five years for a dedicated program for local government disaster mitigation; • $20 million over four years to develop the data initiative, and boost local government’s capacity. 4 | Council Manager Autumn 2013
3 Vic Government to focus on financial performance reporting for councils The Victorian Government will focus in 2013 on improving how councils calculate differential rates and report on their financial performance, according to the state’s Minister for Local Government, Jeanette Powell. Mrs Powell said a system of performance reporting for councils would be developed and introduced over the next two years to provide residents and ratepayers with a better understanding of how their councils operated. “Ratepayers will be able to see how their rates are being spent and if they’re getting value for money. I encourage all councillors to be actively involved in this important debate,” she said. Mrs Powell said in response to community concerns, a Differential Rates Ministerial Committee was leading a consultation process before councils determined budgets for 2013-14. “The Victorian Coalition Government looks forward to hearing from councils, councillors and the community on the development of differential rates guidelines,” Mrs Powell said. Mrs Powell encouraged newly-elected mayors and councillors to embrace the State Government’s plans to improve councils’ transparency and accountability.
4 Legal protection sought for Qld flood councils The Queensland Government will consult with local government and industry to ensure legal protection for councils from inappropriate development on flood-prone land. Queensland’s Assistant Minister for Planning Reform, Ian Walker, said the protection of Queenslanders was paramount and the state had to canvas possible legislative improvements. “The tragic deaths and loss of homes and businesses in the 2010-11 and 2013 floods highlighted that there is no room for complacency for governments on this issue,” Mr Walker said. “Queensland is the only state that allows compensation arising from planning scheme changes based on solid planning principles, especially in relation to flooding.” Mr Walker said developers who wanted the best for communities should work closely with state and local governments to find a way forward on best-practice planning schemes that addressed flooding. “The government has always said it will make life easier for local governments to be at their most effective for their communities. This change may ensure that local governments make better planning decisions without fear of costly legal battles. Providing certainty for councils in this allimportant area of planning is our goal.” Mr Walker said considering a legislative change to the compensation provisions of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 was a key recommendation from the Flood Commission of Inquiry. “The government is also committed to consulting with the property and development industries about possible statutory exemptions that prevent legal action against councils that provide advice in good faith,” he said.
5 Guide to enhance local government research Those wanting to become involved or to increase their involvement in research projects related to the local government sector can take advantage of a guide released by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government. Make Your Knowledge Matter: A Guide to Developing and Documenting Research is designed to bring about a greater role for practitioners in local government research by encouraging them to develop ideas, document good practice and share their work. The ACELG said the publication offered instruction on: • Producing research outputs; • Introducing the sort of thinking required in constructing academic work, and • Offering relevant research examples that are likely to build the technical skills of practitioners seeking to enhance their own research capacity. This guide builds on a suite of other ACELG initiatives to encourage a greater role for local government practitioners in sectoral research. The centre said it encouraged aspiring local government researchers to make full use of the guide. The guide is available on the ACELG website www.acelg.org.au
ALGA welcomes preliminary recommendations of parliamentary committee The Australian Local Government Association has welcomed the recommendations of a preliminary report released on January 24 by a Joint Select Committee established to investigate the likelihood of Australians voting “yes” at a 2013 referendum to recognise local government in the Constitution. For more than five years, the ALGA has been campaigning for constitutional recognition of local government to ensure the sector is recognised as a legitimate recipient of direct federal funding. The association called for a Joint Standing Committee on Constitutional Recognition to be established because it saw it as an essential step on the path to a financial recognition referendum following a report released by an Expert Panel in 2011. “ALGA welcomes the preliminary report’s recognition of the constitutional vulnerability of direct payments to local government through programs such as Roads to Recovery, which are essential for all local communities,” ALGA President, Felicity-ann Lewis said. “We welcome the Committee’s acknowledgment that the suggested words for a change to Section 96 of the Constitution to resolve financial uncertainty will not have implications for state governments and their relationship with local government.
LGSA renews push for new levy to fund emergency services The Local Government and Shires Associations of New South Wales have reaffirmed their long-standing policy of reviewing the way emergency services in the state are funded. President of the Shires Association, Ray Donald, said the LGSA supported a proposal by the state’s Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Michael Gallacher, for a broad-based property levy to fund the services. Cr Donald said such a levy would replace the current mixture of funding arrangements, which come from insurance premiums, councils and the state government. “Replacing the Emergency Services Levy with a broad-based property levy would mean that everyone contributes to this vital community service whilst improving the transparency of the funding system.” Cr Donald said the levy system was currently being implemented in Victoria as a result of a recommendation by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and had been used for over a decade in other states including South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. President of the Local Government Association, Keith Rhoades, commended the Rural Fire Service and other emergency services for their management of the recent bushfire emergency affecting a large portion of regional and rural NSW. Autumn 2013 Council Manager | 5
TOP 10 NEWS
Emergency management reforms to overhaul council roles Local government in Victoria says its emergency management roles and responsibilities look set to better align with councils’ existing capacity and expertise under a white paper released by the State Government. Rob Spence, Chief Executive Officer of the Municipal Association of Victoria, welcomed what he described as the government’s “once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise our emergency management regime to deliver safer outcomes for communities”. Mr Spence said current emergency management roles for municipalities were antiquated and failed to align with the skills, expertise, diversity and limitations of modern councils. “In recent years, a number of government-initiated reviews raised concerns about the mismatch between expanding emergency management responsibilities and councils’ limited financial and resource capacity. “A proposed review of all legislation that allocates emergency management responsibilities to councils has been long-sought by the sector. This outcome acknowledges the need for greater clarity and the opportunities to capitalise on existing municipal strengths and capabilities.” Mr Spence said councils were not emergency response agencies, but could best add value to the complex relief and recovery needs of communities. He said roles should draw on sector strengths and be an escalation of normal business including community engagement, local planning and partnerships, risk mitigation and support to help communities recover quickly. 6 | Council Manager Autumn 2013
SA local government
9 Review of NSW Local
The taskforce charged with rewriting the New South Wales Local Government Act is scheduled to release a further paper by the second quarter of 2013 providing a direction it sees for the new Act. The Local Government Act Taskforce concluded its listening and workshop tours of NSW in late 2012. The tours were designed to meet with and listen to elected officials and the officers of local councils. The taskforce undertook visits to 14 city and regional locations across the state and the workshops were attended by 390 representatives from 113 councils and five county councils. Taskforce Chairman, John Turner, said a number of common themes emerged from the workshop sessions, including: • More autonomy for local government; • That local government was primarily accountable to its local community; • That a new Act should be enabling and written in clear language; • That there be respect between the tiers of government and that local government be seen as a genuine third tier of government; and • That a new Act should be principles based. “The integrated planning and reporting process was hailed as a success in allowing local government to more efficiently and effectively plan for the future,” Mr Turner said. “There were, however, concerns raised about over-prescription in the present Act, the process for managing public lands, and the failure to apply modern technology to day-today requirements of local government.” Interested parties had until December 21, 2012, to lodge written submissions in response to the taskforce’s “Preliminary Ideas” paper.
applauds establishment of ICAC South Australia’s Local Government Association has commended all sides of politics in the state on the passage of legislation to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption. LGA Chief Executive Officer, Wendy Campana, said the sector looked forward to bedding down the requirements of the new legislation. She said local government supported the need for thorough investigation of alleged fraud and corruption by individuals in public office, whether in state or local government and for appropriate penalties to be applied if criminal activity was unearthed. Ms Campana said the LGA would be captured by the legislation and the association and councils had been readying themselves for the new arrangements, in anticipation of the passage of the ICAC Bill. “We have revamped and expanded our library of information and procedures for local government procurement processes and we are preparing a suite of resource documents to assist councils to understand the implications of the legislation,” she said. “Our communities expect that their elected representatives and all spheres of government are accountable and if we adhere to this premise we have nothing to fear from an ICAC.” Ms Campana said the LGA looked forward to working with the Commission regarding the establishment of guidelines and procedures about when and how matters would be referred to local government as provided for under the new legislation.
Standardising development contribution levies Victoria’s Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, has announced the first stage of development contributions reform by releasing a proposed framework for standardised development contributions levies. This proposed development contributions framework would replace the existing system and is designed to fund local infrastructure including roads, footpaths, storm water management, open spaces and community facilities. The first report by the Standard Development Contributions Ministerial Advisory Committee, Setting the Framework, is available for comment. The Committee sought written submissions by March 12, 2013 in response to the report’s findings. It will also explore the issues raised through workshops – also to be held in March. The committee will undertake further consultation on the proposed framework and will proceed with the preparation of a second report that will provide further advice, such as setting levy amounts.
Review of waste management in Victoria Victoria’s waste management arrangements will be reviewed by a Ministerial Advisory Committee on Waste and Resource Recovery Governance. The three-member advisory committee will have expertise in local government, waste management and governance and will play an important role in helping reduce waste and improve state-wide resource recovery efforts. Lydia Wilson (Chair), Simon Corden and Paul Clapham will form the committee, which will advise on how to best deliver the vision and objectives of the new policy, through the public sector agencies, departments and local councils involved. 8 | Council Manager Autumn 2013
State Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, said to deliver a new waste and resource recovery plan, it was crucial the right arrangements were put in place with all the institutions that have a role in managing the waste system. “I have asked the advisory committee to review the current waste management arrangements in Victoria and make recommendations about the effective governance of institutions in the waste management system. “Between now and April the advisory committee will be talking with key stakeholders from across Victorian Government departments and agencies, waste management groups, local government and the waste management industry to inform their recommendations.” The advisory committee will deliver its options and recommendations to Mr Smith by the end of April 2013.
Energy savings ahead for shire Colac Otway Shire Council in Victoria’s south-west will implement an efficient street lighting program after agreeing to take out a loan which will be paid back through energy savings. The project will involve upgrading 1320 street lamps throughout the shire to energy-efficient alternatives, and result in a 60% reduction in carbon emissions and running costs. Cuts to Victorian Government funding left a $278,000 funding shortfall, $122,000 of which the council will pay for through its Local Government Infrastructure Program allocation. The remainder of the program will be funded by a Federal Government grant of $244,000, and a $156,000 loan, subject to council’s budget deliberations. Colac Otway Shire Mayor, Lyn Russell, said the council would save about $68,000 per year once all lights were changed over. “While Powercor owns the lighting infrastructure, ratepayers fund the cost of operating our street lights. This project will pay for council’s contribution within four to five years, and will reduce council’s
exposure to expected future rises in electricity costs,” Cr Russell said. The shire worked with the Great South Coast group of councils to apply for the funding. Nearly 8000 street lamps will be changed to energy-efficient alternatives across the shires of Colac Otway, Corangamite, Warrnambool, Moyne, Southern Grampians and Glenelg, representing a $9.8 million saving for participating councils by 2030.
Knowledge hub builds disaster resilience Local government is one of the sectors that will be able to take advantage of an interactive website launched to improve understanding and preparation for natural disasters. The Australian Emergency Management Knowledge Hub gives Australians a centralised disaster resource to meet challenges that emergencies like bushfires and floods present. As well as providing research, resources and news relevant to emergency management, the Knowledge Hub allows users to provide feedback and share ideas. It includes a research clearing house, an Australian disaster event database, crosssectoral discussion forums and new media collaboration tools such as Twitter, allowing users to contribute resources, share information and interact. The hub is funded by the Federal Government and supports the implementation of the Council of Australian Governments’ National Strategy for Disaster Resilience. The strategy recognises that a national, coordinated and cooperative effort is needed to enhance Australia’s capacity to prepare for, withstand and recover from disasters.
LGAQ questions cuts to native title legal funding The Federal Government’s decision to end financial assistance to councils to ensure proper legal representation in native title cases risks harming the proper processing of
native title matters, according to the Local Government Association of Queensland. LGAQ advocacy general manager, Greg Hoffman, said the government effectively ceased access by councils to the Native Title Respondent Funding Scheme from January 1 this year. Mr Hoffman said it was difficult to understand why the decision to cut funding was made at the time that the native title system was beginning to operate more effectively. “Councils have relied on the scheme to ensure they have proper legal help in navigating highly complex land tenure issues,” he said. “These changes are a false economy because the efficiencies in the native title process achieved by providing assistance to councils will be lost.”
Sydney combating medical waste injury The City of Sydney has been recognised for a community project that has kept more than 10,000 used syringes and other sharp medical waste materials out of the regular garbage collection system. The council won the Local Government Excellence in Environment Award in Community Sharps Management for the project, a collaboration between the city, NSW Government agencies, the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and the residents of the Northcott social housing community. “Safe disposal of so-called ‘sharps’ is an increasingly important issue in the community as rising numbers of people are managing medical conditions, such as diabetes, at home,” the City’s Safe City Manager, Lisa Simone, said. “Hospitals and medical centres have special bins so these items can be disposed of properly, but sharps generated by people at home often end up in the household garbage, where they can pose a risk to cleansing and recycling workers.” As part of the Sustainable Action Values Everyone (SAVE) project, the city installed two community sharps bins in the
Northcott community for a one-year trial and ran an education program about how and why to safely dispose of sharps. The trial diverted 10,710 sharps from the domestic waste stream and public places around the Northcott precinct, in suburban Surry Hills. Some 60% of the sharps collected were from the management of medical conditions at home. The success of the trial means the bins will stay in the community. NSW Health estimated in 2004 more than 18 million pen needles and syringes were distributed in the State under the National Diabetes Services Scheme, and even more lancets were given to people with diabetes, who use them to monitor their blood glucose levels. Another 10 million syringes are distributed annually for other injecting drug users. An estimated 20 million of these needles and syringes end up in local council waste or recycling services each year, and a small number are dropped in public places.
Council signs landmark ‘green building’ agreement Parramatta City Council is party to a “landmark agreement” which the Green Building Council of Australia says will demonstrate how retrofits can boost green jobs, generate cost savings for property owners and tenants, and improve the sustainability of cities.
The GBCA says the first Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) in New South Wales, signed by the council and building owner, Australian Unity, paves the way for more efficient, productive, healthy buildings. The building’s tenant, the NSW State Property Authority, is contributing toward a major lighting upgrade expected to save $200,000 a year through a 60% reduction in energy consumption. An EUA is a tripartite agreement between a building owner, a local council and a finance provider under which the finance provider lends funds to a building owner for water, energy and other environmental upgrades. The financed amount is then levied as a special charge by the local council, which collects the repayments and pays the financial institution. The EUA financing mechanism reduces the risk associated with lending for the financial institutions, as the council takes responsibility for the loan. The building owner has access to finance at a competitive rate and the ability to share the costs of the building improvements with tenants. In NSW, tenants benefit from occupying an improved building and their contributions to the environmental upgrade charge will be offset by the reduction in utility bills. “We are confident this will be the first of many EUAs as tenants and building owners work together to unlock up to $2 billion in energy efficiency upgrades in the Sydney commercial property market alone,” the GBCA’s Executive Director of Advocacy, Robin Mellon, said.
Guiding council practices on ratepayer hardship A new report into the debt collection practices of Victorian councils will help inform further work to guide how local government responds to people facing severe financial hardship. Bill McArthur, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said despite relatively few unpaid rates debts resulting in court action, it was a serious matter that warranted further investigation. Autumn 2013 Council Manager | 9
“There is clear room for improvement in how councils approach their debt collection. While court proceedings were only used to recover 0.25% of all council rates bills in 2010-11, the impacts can be devastating for the people affected,” he said. Cr McArthur said local government knew many people experiencing debt could be difficult to engage, and would often not seek professional advice or even acknowledge there was a problem. He said the MAV was pleased to be involved in the work undertaken by the Federation of Community Legal Centres and Footscray Community Legal Centre. Cr McArthur said their report provided valuable insight into the perspectives of people with rates debts, as well as the many differing approaches adopted by councils towards financial hardship. The findings were presented to the first meeting of the MAV’s Rates Hardship Working Group. “It was encouraging to note the positive outcomes achieved by the banking and utility sectors through more structured hardship policies, including reduced court actions and increased payment compliance rates,” Cr McArthur said. He said the Rates Hardship Working Group hoped to bridge this gap with further work already underway to develop guidance for councils on hardship practices.
Updating local government skills base Skills required to work in local government will soon form part of a library of job profiles being developed by the Local Government Association of South Australia. Association Chief Executive Officer, Wendy Campana, said the need for comprehensive job profiling and required skills was identified during the recent rollout of the LGA workforce planning service. “The LGA recognises there needs to be a consolidated good practice approach to training needs based on the skills required to work in local government,” Ms Campana said. 10 | Council Manager Autumn 2013
“Local Government employs more than 10,000 South Australians across a very varied work environment from road works and engineering to procurement and customer service. Ms Campana said it was important people had access to relevant training to suit the skills needed for their jobs and for career advancement and that councils had a criteria to work with to ensure current and prospective employees were the best fit for a particular role. The LGA is working with 23 council staff members to develop a library of generic local government job profiles which all councils will be able to adapt to their particular employment criteria. “The Job Profile Library and an accompanying Training Needs Analysis Guide will assist Councils to prepare job descriptions and undertake training needs analyses and workforce planning and development.” It is anticipated the Job Profile Library research and development will be completed for council use early in 2013.
New impetus for economic development in regional Australia The Federal Government’s new $1 billion Innovation and Industry Statement will impact on local government in regional areas because it is designed to tap regional talent and expertise to drive productivity, innovation and competitiveness to deliver jobs. Regional Australia Minister, Simon Crean, said the Government’s statement, A Plan for Australian Jobs, would support regional industry, firms and small and medium businesses through innovation precincts, industry participation initiatives and working with the Regional Australia Institute. Mr Crean said the announcement of $504.5 million to establish up to 10 Industry Innovation Precincts will not only boost creativity and productivity in capital cities, it will tap the strengths of regional universities and research institutions.
“Australia’s future is built on innovation, creativity and design which many regions have in spades yet they need to adapt it better. The Innovation Precincts will help them unlock this potential and give them a competitive edge,” he said. Two of the precincts are Food and Manufacturing Precincts. “This is what Australia does so well, in so many of its regions. There is enormous potential for regions through the Food Innovation Precinct given the demand for food, energy and resource security,” Mr Crean said. “Now is the time for our regional universities, research institutions and businesses to work together to develop their connectivities to maximise the opportunities and potential of future Innovation Precincts. “The Precincts are a great enabler yet they are only the highway. It is up to the regional universities and businesses to join the dots and build the connections that will become the vehicles on the highway.” Mr Crean said firms and businesses from around the country would benefit from Precinct activities through the new online Industry Innovation Network.
New President for South Australia’s LGA The Mayor of Prospect in Adelaide, David O’Loughlin, will be the next President of South Australia’s Local Government Association. Mayor O’Loughlin was elected unopposed to take over from current President, Kym McHugh, when his term of office expires in April. Mayor O’Loughlin’s two-year term of office will begin at the conclusion of the LGA General Meeting on April 19. Mayor McHugh said he welcomed Mayor O’Loughlin’s election as Presidentelect after a call for nominations from metropolitan councils. The LGA President is nominated each two years, in turn, from country and metropolitan councils. Mayor O’Loughlin said he was looking forward to taking up the role. “It’s humbling and somewhat daunting to receive the confidence of councils to lead local government at such a critical time for local communities,” he said.
New standards for e-waste disposal Electronic waste in Australia and New Zealand will be covered by a new standard which will help to divert e-waste from landfill by providing a rigorous process for collection, storage, and recycling. The Joint Australian and New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 5377:2013 Collection, storage, transport and treatment of end-oflife electrical and electronic equipment, will outline minimum requirements for the safe and environmentally sound handling of e-waste. Colin Blair – Chief Executive Officer, Standards Australia – said the standard sets out principles and minimum requirements for end-of-life electrical equipment to: • Maximise re-use; • Reduce the amount of waste going to landfill; • Safeguard worker health; and • Minimise environmental harm.
“The standard states that a lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation or adverse health and safety effects. The standard sends a strong message regarding the environmental concerns of e-waste,” he said. Mr Blair said the standard recognises there are laws in place regulating how to comply with occupational health and safety requirements and environmental performance, and that Australia and New Zealand are signatories to international agreements on environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and pollutants. He said the standard enhances existing environmental protections and international obligations while establishing the processes required to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. The standard also provides environmentally-effective guidelines for
industry and will help ensure that, from 1 July 2014, at least 90% of all materials in e-waste collected under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme are recovered for use in new products.
REINVENTING GOVERNMENT CUSTOMER SERVICE Conference 2013 June 25 & 26 | The Hotel Windsor, Melbourne PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS FOR TRANSFORMING GOVERNMENT CUSTOMER SERVICE PROCESSES AND PERFORMANCE The conference will provide the three tiers of government with practical information on key themes including:
BEST PRACTICE: Gain insights into best practice in customer service and client relations, including policies and procedures NEW TECHNOLOGIES: Reinvent customer service by using technologies such as social media, CRM software and mobile CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: Manage customer expectations and complaints, and optimise the customer experience DOING MORE WITH LESS: How to improve customer service on a budget
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JUST $800+GST | REGISTER ONLINE AT www.governmentcustomerservice.com.au Autumn 2013 Council Manager | 11
Advancing the case for constitutional change By Australian Local Government Association President, Felicity-ann Lewis
ver the course of the past five years, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has been persistent in its campaign for constitutional recognition of local government. Continuing this trend, the Association marked the start of the new year by presenting its case for constitutional reform to the Joint Standing Committee on the Constitutional Recognition of Local Government on January 16. That public hearing was the first since the Committee was established by parliament late last year to provide state and territory governments and local government bodies with a platform to put their views to the Committee about the proposed wording for a constitutional amendment to recognise local government bodies as legitimate recipients of direct federal funding. Since former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an election commitment to progress the issue of constitutional recognition of local government in 2007, ALGA has undertaken extensive work to advance the issue and identify the most appropriate form of recognition for local government in the Australian Constitution. Local government concluded that financial recognition was the best option and ALGA maintains that this is the only way to protect direct federal funding for community services and infrastructure. This view was shared by an independent Expert Panel appointed in 2011 by the Federal Government following the commitment of the Gillard Government in 2010 to hold a referendum on constitutional recognition. It looked at all the options for recognition of local government including recognition in a preamble to the Constitution and more complex changes to confirm local government’s status and role. In the end it supported financial recognition, which had the broadest political support and the greatest chance of success at a referendum, but also set out some preconditions for a referendum, including engaging the state governments to achieve their support, a public education campaign and changes to the referendum process. In 2011, ALGA called for a Joint Standing Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government to be established because we saw it as an essential step on the path to a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government. ALGA is pleased that the Committee has been established and we appreciated the opportunity to appear before the Committee on January 16 to outline the option of financial recognition – changing the Constitution to ensure that the direct federal funding of local government can continue without questions of constitutional validity arising. 12 | Council Manager Autumn 2013
The Committee held a second public hearing on February 20 to hear from local government bodies and Commonwealth agencies that have provided submissions to the inquiry. The Joint Standing Committee has been tasked with assessing the likelihood of success of a referendum on financial recognition and recently handed down a preliminary report recommending a referendum should be held at the same time as the 2013 federal election. ALGA believes that the referendum should be held at a time which maximises the chances for success. Success for ALGA will be a referendum that is passed by a majority of voters in a majority of states, and a majority of voters overall - the elusive double majority. Holding a referendum, if unsuccessful, will achieve nothing and probably damage the standing of local government in the eyes of the community. The Committee’s preliminary report asserts that recent cases in the High Court have created “considerable uncertainty about the Commonwealth’s power to provide funding directly to local government” and that “a successful referendum would return Australia to the widely understood status quo that existed before those recent High Court cases, and ensure the need of communities are met through the continuation of important programs like Roads to Recovery”. The Government has said that it will not be responding to the Committee’s findings until a final report is issued in March 2013. In the meantime, I have written to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott asking them to make a joint statement about the need for constitutional change proposed by the Expert Panel and supported by the Committee. I have also written to Local Government Minister Simon Crean to ask what the Government intends to do with regard to meeting the preconditions identified in the 2011 Expert Panel report and referred to in the Parliamentary Committee’s preliminary report, particularly the need to engage the states on the proposed change to secure their support. The Government has committed to a referendum on the recognition of local government in 2013. ALGA welcomed that commitment but we believe that the promise should only be pursued if holding a referendum this year allows the maximum chance for success and there is adequate time for an effective campaign. If the preconditions for a successful referendum identified by the Expert Panel and ALGA cannot be met in time for a referendum to be held this year then ALGA would call for the referendum to be held as soon as practicable after 2013 when those preconditions can be satisfied.
FUTURE ONLINE SERVICES CONFERENCE 2013
Sydney | May 8 & 9 2013
■ TWO DAYS OF PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE & EXPERT ADVICE
■ EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION NOW AVAILABLE
■ VISIT WWW.GOVTECHREVIEW.COM.AU/LGNBN
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE The 2013 Local Government NBN and Future Online Services Conference will provide Australia’s local governments and regional development authorities with the latest knowledge and advice on how to ensure councils and their communities benefit from the rollout of the National Broadband Network and availability of fast broadband services. This conference has previously been staged in 2011 and 2012, and attracts professionals from local governments and RDAs across Australia. Previously a one-day event, it has now been expanded into a two-day conference in recognition of the need to provide greater depth of information for attendees. This event will provide valuable information and advice for councils and RDAs whose communities are yet to experience the NBN roll-out, as well as for those who are experiencing the roll-out and are now actively seeking to take advantage of high-speed broadband. Presentations at this conference will include: •
Learnings and experiences of councils and RDAs already participating in the NBN roll-out.
Leading examples of how local communities and businesses can be assisted to benefit from participation in the Digital Economy.
How fast broadband can be utilised by local governments to enhance online services and communications.
CONFIRMED PRESENTERS INCLUDE •
Broadband Today Alliance
Nathan Burbridge, Economic Development Strategist, Blacktown City Council
James Scott, Director Corporate Services, Moreland City Council
INTERNATIONAL SPEAKERS: Wanganui District Council Mayor, Annette Main, and Digital Facilitator, Marianne Archibald, New Zealand
Chris Quigley, Director Corporate and Commercial Services, Kiama Municipal Council
Matthew Schultz, Regional Digital Economy Coordinator, Ipswich City Council
John Vandyke, Project Manager Online Service Development, City of Tea Tree Gully
Anne Petch, Revenue Development – Business Life, Town of Victoria Park
Steve Harrison, Director Business & Economic Development, City of Prospect
ATTENDEES WILL INCLUDE • • • • •
Senior local government managers Economic development professionals Local government ICT professionals Regional Development Australia representatives Councillors
The national Broadband Today Alliance of local governments will also host a Conference Session as part of the event.
Visit www.govtechreview.com.au/lgnbn to register online or to download a printable registration form. Early Bird Registration closes March 15.
Conference Registration & Attendance Enquiries Registration Manager Ph: (03) 8534 5050 E: email@example.com
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Transforming perceptions of local government New Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government, Roberta Ryan, is seeking to enhance public recognition of the significant role that councils play in our everyday lives.
he Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) has a new Director with the appointment of Associate Professor Roberta Ryan to the role. Associate Professor Ryan follows Professor Graham Sansom who retired from the position in late December 2012. Associate Professor Ryan has more than 30 years’ experience in local government, public policy and research. She has provided high level strategic advisory and applied policy research to federal, state and local government agencies in areas such as housing, health, ageing, place making, community engagement, liveability and sustainability. Prior to her appointment, Associate Professor Ryan was a director of a public policy and urban planning consultancy firm. Her academic experience, at UNSW and Macquarie University in Sydney, was in the application of research to practice. As ACELG Director, Associate Professor Ryan has a number of aims she would like the Centre to achieve, the main one being to better communicate the significance of local government to people’s everyday lives. “Whether it’s reforms to Murray Darling Basin, or the delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or 14 | Council Manager Autumn 2013
even the achievement of Olympic gold medals”, Associate Professor Ryan said, “local government is there at every stage by providing pools or sporting fields, representing the needs of communities, ensuring other levels of government deliver needed services, planning for and responding to disasters and environmental prevention. “There are few major public policy reforms or national achievements which do not involve local government in one way or another, but that idea is not part of our political discourse. That needs to change. As director of ACELG, I would like to help transform the way we think about local government in Australia so people recognise its position as an influential, important and successful tier of government.” ACELG was established in 2009 with a federal government endowment to promote innovation and better practice across local government, inform policy debates, and support a coordinated approach to training and workforce development. To achieve this, the Centre consults and collaborates with local government and its associations, professional associations and state and territory governments. Allied research centres exist in the UK and North America (normally supported by
national governments), and this is the first time the Australian sector has had such a resource dedicated to it. Headquartered at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), ACELG is a consortium of universities and professional bodies comprising the UTS Centre for Local Government (UTS:CLG), the University of Canberra, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA), and the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA). Additional program partners provide support in specialist areas and extend the Centre’s national reach, such as Charles Darwin University (NT) and Edith Cowan University (WA). ACELG’s consortium structure is one of its main strengths, says Associate Professor Ryan: “The reach and influence of our partners has been critical to achieving our goals, and the sector partnerships that ACELG has established have been fantastic. This is where ACELG plays an important role – to facilitate a national debate and, in partnership with the sector, develop rigorous practitioner driven research that utilises existing skills and knowledge.” Notable achievements from ACELG’s three years of operation include: • Strategies and applied action on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) employment. • Enhanced participation of women in local government, supported by robust, national data.
• Practical assistance for rural-remote and Indigenous councils on asset management, the impact of fly-in fly-out/ drive-in drive-out work practices, and workforce challenges. • Guides and recommendations on local government finance, including long term financial planning and strengthening revenues. • Research on national training options for councillors, and the status and function of present day local leadership (elected and appointed). • Practically orientated guidance on local government reform, consolidation and approaches to shared services. • The establishment of tailored learning programs for council leaders and those aspiring to lead, including a unique program for senior managers and councillors to promote excellence in and for their communities. • How to define innovation in the sector and apply it locally, including access to online case-studies and discussion forums. • Guidance and research on climate change to assist local and national action. • Critical theme-based research including community engagement, community
governance, measuring liveability, collaborative governance, metropolitan planning, the use of social media. • Guides, national forums and partnerships to support council staff and others in undertaking local government research. Most of the items and initiatives listed are accessible through the ACELG website, including current news and planned work. “We have an ambitious program for 2013,” Associate Professor Ryan said. “It will include among other work, implementation of Australia’s first national local government workforce strategy, further resources to assist councils with asset and financial management, collaboration with the sector on initiatives arising from new local government workforce and employment data, the second Excellence in Local Government Leadership Program plus further statebased leadership initiatives, and a new series of collaborative research projects and a national research forum. “Through these and other projects, ACELG will make a significant contribution to how the sector sustainably and innovatively works with its communities while continuing to assert itself as a respected tier of government in Australia.
Local government is not just another stakeholder – it has a deep understanding of its community and is uniquely placed to shape the delivery of services to meet its community’s needs. A greater acknowledgement of our strengths can really enhance the national conversation about local government and achieve practical benefit.” Associate Professor Ryan concluded: “The Centre has just begun its fourth year of operation. Overall, I would like to see every local government in Australia recognise the relevance and importance of ACELG and its accomplishments so far and what it aims to achieve in collaboration with the sector. “There are many opportunities for local government – either individuals or organisations – to contribute to our work, and I would be really pleased if council staff and stakeholders might get in touch and let me know how ACELG can help.”
To find out more about ACELG and its programs visit www.acelg.org.au. Article supplied by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government. Autumn 2013 Council Manager | 15