Page 1

SEPT– OCT 2011








City of Tea Tree Gully CEO, Dianne Rogowski

lor nt l i c e un lem o C pp Su




14 NEWS TOP 10 NEWS STORIES ................... 2 NEWS ...................................................... 8




TOWNSVILLE Working to make Townsville

have improved the organisation’s

Queensland’s ‘second capital’ .................. 54

financial sustainability................................ 36


strategies to help keep risk management alive. ................................... 38

Eight Local Government Case Studies By Zoe Pattison ............................................22

SENIOR POSITIONS Monitoring the comings and goings

Cover: City of Tea Tree Gully CEO, Dianne Rogowski. Turn to page 14.

of council CEOs ....................................... 42


Publisher: CommStrat

By Patrick Ibbotson, Partner,

Editor: Ben Hutchison

Maddocks ................................................ 44

Graphic Designer: Odette Boulton

COUNCILLOR SUPPLEMENT NEWS .................................................... 47


TRAINING FOR COUNCILS .............. 56

risk management, and governance

City of Tea Tree Gully CEO ........................ 14



Tony Harb and Mitchell Morley, audit, specialists from InConsult, provide

................................................................ 18


financial model and initiatives that

Dianne Rogowski,



Darwin City Council’s comprehensive





Creative Director: Tim Hartridge Contributors: Rex Pannell, Ben Hutchison, Genia McCaffery, Auckland Council, Zoe Pattison, Patrick Ibbotson, Tony Harb, Mitchell Morley Sales and Marketing: Yuri Mamistvalov Tel: +61 3 8534 5008

to improve asset management through


innovative solutions .................................. 25

Wagga Wagga City Council has

Tel: +61 3 8534 5009

implemented initiatives to help the



council achieve its sustainability goals ....... 51

Head office: Lvl 8 574 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004

Kangaroo Island Council’s implementation

The mayors of City of Wagga Wagga

of Asset Management Plans ..................... 30

and Salisbury lead the way ....................... 52

Maroondah City Council identifies ways

Email: Subscriptions: Ruth Spiegel

Post: PO Box 6137 St Kilda Road Central, VIC 8008


Tel: +61 3 8534 5000, Fax: +61 3 9530 8911 Webmaster: Madhuraka Godahewa WEB:

Sept-Oct 2011 Council Manager | 1




Local government’s thirst for knowledge The sharing between local governments of knowledge about how to improve organisational practices is becoming increasingly active and sophisticated. As the complexity of local government administration increases and the management tactics of council managers become more astute, the thirst for knowledge is becoming greater. This was quite evident at the recent national Benchmarking Best Practice in Local Government Conference, held in Melbourne. Attendees heard from a range of leading councils, with the keenness for knowledge evident from the many eager questions audience members had for presenters. The development of the new Innovation and Knowledge Exchange Network or ‘IKEN’ website is also testament to the continued need by local government leaders to access information about innovation and best practice. Council Manager magazine also assists in the distribution of vital information about leading practices, with this edition providing detailed insight into how councils are improving organisational culture and performance. If you wish to provide suggestions or editorial contributions for future editions of Council Manager, please contact myself on the email address below. Sincerely, Ben Hutchison, EDITOR, Council Manager 2 | Council Manager Sept-Oct 2011

1 Tool to help assess council financial management Councils around Australia will be able to assess their position relating to asset and financial management with a tool presently being developed.The National Evaluation & Accreditation Tool or Assessment Framework is being developed to evaluate progress by councils in implementing the Local Government and Planning Ministers’ Council National Sustainability Frameworks. The Sustainability Frameworks provide nationally consistent elements for all local government authorities to more sustainably manage their community infrastructure through asset management and financial planning. State and Territory Governments have agreed to facilitate implementation of the frameworks across their councils. The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government is developing the national tool, which is proposed as a structured online questionnaire to evaluate progress with implementing elements of the frameworks. The outputs of the questionnaire will enable a council to measure its progress. The ACELG was also in the final stages of developing a Practice Note to assist councils to develop long term financial plans in accordance with the Australian Infrastructure Financial Management Guidelines. A consultation reference group has been set up, consisting of the NSW LG Financial Professionals Group, Local Government Victoria, MAV, FinPro (Vic), Department of Local Government WA, Department of Housing Local Government and Regional Services NT, SA LG Financial Management Group, SA Department of Local Government and Planning, Qld Department of Infrastructure and Planning, WALGA, LGA Tasmania and LGMA.









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ALGA encouraged by response to carbon price concerns

COAG pushing ahead with strategic planning for cities Work commissioned by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on capital city strategic planning is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011. COAG says it views the sustainability and liveability of Australian cities, and issues such as congestion, as significant concerns for the residents of major centres. The council says the states are continuing work designed to improve the future of major cities and the results will be presented to COAG’s next meeting. New South Wales is leading investigations into infrastructure financing delivering better value infrastructure; Victoria is looking at planning controls over Federal Government land, Queensland is heading work on the provision of services and infrastructure to a growing and dispersed population; while the Northern Territory is leading investigations into sustainable development in northern Australia. 4 | Council Manager Sept-Oct 2011

The Federal Government is responsive to the concerns of councils in relation to its carbon pricing initiative, according to the President of the Australian Local Government Association, Genia McCaffery. Cr McCaffery recently met with senior staff of Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, to discuss concerns including the potential impact on rates and the likely inclusion of relatively small councils under the initiative if it extends to smaller landfills with emissions equal to 10,000 tonnes of CO2. She said the ALGA was assured the expected increases in rates had been factored into broad Treasury modelling and the government’s compensation package for sectors that needed assistance. Rates might have to increase because they are directly attributable to the impacts of a carbon price on council operations. In relation to landfill emissions, Cr McCaffery said the government acknowledged the need to avoid unintended impacts on smaller councils when the main targets of the carbon price scheme were big polluters. Cr McCaffery said she hoped the government would assist small councils if they were caught up in the scheme — the assistance would help them in meeting compliance requirements. She said ALGA was working with state and territory associations to further advise the government on which small councils and landfills might be caught by the scheme before it is finalised through regulation.

4 Councils to have input on Digital Local Government Program Councils and the ICT industry have been called on by the Federal Government to submit their views on draft program guidelines for the Digital Local Government program. The draft guidelines provide information on the purpose and objectives of the program, as well as the process for councils to access the initial funding round. The $17 million Digital Local Government program encourages the development and delivery of online solutions made possible by the National Broadband Network. The potential of NBN-enabled high-speed broadband can be used to improve the quality, availability and speed of local government services. The Digital Local Government program supports the National Digital Economy Strategy’s vision of making Australia one of the world’s leading digital economies by 2020. It will provide funding to local governments representing the first 40 communities to benefit from the NBN. Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, said it was important that relevant parties such as councils, local government associations and the ICT industry had an opportunity to comment on the draft guidelines. Comments on the draft guidelines were able to be submitted by September 9, 2011, to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy via email at To view the draft guidelines or to find out more about the Digital Local Government program visit:


Action plan for future of local government in NSW Local government and the New South Wales Government are starting work immediately to refine a draft action plan developed at a conference in Dubbo to discuss the future of local government in the state. The Destination 2036 workshop was held on August 17–18. A steering committee comprising the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW, Local Government Managers Australia and the NSW Division of Local Government was aiming to have the draft plan distributed to local government during October and to have it ready for implementation by the end of 2011. President of the Local Government Association of NSW, Keith Rhoades, said he was particularly pleased to see the conference highlighted the need for a focus on financial viability for the long-term success of local government. President of the Shires Association of NSW, Ray Donald, said Destination 2036 exceeded expectations of the attendees and the LGSA was looking forward to representing councils on the steering committee to oversee implementation of the action plan. Cr Donald said priority had to be given to a review of the Local Government Act, to clarifying the functions and services provided by councils and to ensuring they were adequately funded and resourced. He said that funding had to include a fixed share of federal tax revenue paid direct to councils.



Qld floods inquiry

IKEN interactive

looks at council

forum up and running

preparedness Councils in Queensland are affected by 65 of the recommendations contained in the Interim Report of the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry. The State Government established the inquiry into the devastating floods in January 2011. The recommendations relating to councils cover areas including disaster frameworks, preparation and planning, and emergency responses. The commission recommended that every local government susceptible to flooding should ensure that, before the next wet season, its local disaster management plan is consistent with the Disaster Management Act 2003; addresses local risks and circumstances, and can be used easily in the event of a disaster. It called on each local government to publish the disaster management plan on its website. The commission said councils should advise the Bureau of Meteorology about any information they possessed about flash flooding or the immediate prospect of such flooding. Councils were also urged to conduct community education programs to provide information on topics including the measures households should take to prepare for flooding. The commission recommended that local governments should consider adopting uniform disaster management software to enable inter-council assistance to be given more easily and effectively, and that deployment of personnel between councils should be facilitated through the Council to Council (C2C) program. The Commission’s final report will be delivered in February 2012. A copy of the Interim Report is available on the Commission’s website

An online, interactive forum — the Innovation and Knowledge Exchange Network or ‘IKEN’— is now live. The IKEN initiative and website is part of Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government’s ‘Innovation and Best Practice’ Program and is hosted by the University of Canberra. It provides a platform for local government practitioners and researchers to exchange information and ideas, showcase innovation and provide useful links to resources, research opportunities, collaboration and support. One of the main features of IKEN is its eight ‘Communities of Practice’. Each features a Practitioners’ forum, new case studies of innovation and better practice commissioned by ACELG and its partners, resources and events, and access to stories on leading edge and award winning projects and programs. Once registered, council staff will have access to these and other features to help with knowledge exchange within the local government sector, such as links to resources, research opportunities, collaboration and support. Site users are also able to submit policy, program or project initiatives for review or comment by peers and other experts. Visit IKEN at

Sept-Oct 2011 Council Manager | 5



Low Carbon program for councils expanded Funding for the Low Carbon Communities Program has been expanded by the Federal Government as part of its carbon pricing initiative. Funding for the program was initially $80 million but it has been lifted to $330 million. Councils and community organisations will be eligible to apply for grants to undertake energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits to community facilities such as town halls, stadiums, education facilities and nursing homes. The program includes a system of grants for pilot approaches to help low income households reduce energy costs and a scheme to support low income earners to improve their energy and financial sustainability. Councils will also be eligible to seek funding under the new $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which has been established to provide financial support for innovation in renewable energy and other low-pollution technologies. Further information can be found at 6 | Council Manager Sept-Oct 2011

9 Commission studies

Councils to fight

impact of council

obesity with $23m

regulation on business

in federal grants

The Productivity Commission’s study into the impacts of local government regulation on business will take 12 months to complete. The commission has received its terms of reference from the Federal Government — it will examine the costs on business of regulation within and between local government jurisdictions. The timeframe for the study includes the release of an issues paper scheduled for early September. Submissions in response to the paper are due by the end of October. A draft report will be produced by the end of February 2012 and the commission’s final report is due to be presented to the Federal Government in July 2012. As part of the study, the Productivity Commission will: – Identify the nature and extent of local government’s regulatory responsibilities where the responsibilities are likely to impose material costs on business, and significant variations in the distribution of these responsibilities between jurisdictions; – Develop indicators and use them to assess whether different regulatory responsibilities, and the way the responsibilities are exercised, have a material effect on the costs of local government regulation on business; and – Identify best practice local government regulatory approaches that have the capacity to reduce unnecessary costs incurred by business, while sustaining good regulatory outcomes. Information on the study can be found at regulationbenchmarking/localgov.

Thirty-three councils around Australia have been allocated more than $23 million to support campaigns to combat obesity in their communities. Each of the councils will receive a grant of more than $700,000 under phase two of the Federal Government’s Healthy Communities Initiative to run programs to encourage and support people to adopt healthier lifestyles. Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said 80% of the local governments had overweight and obesity rates above the national average and experienced significant social and economic disadvantage. Ms Roxon said the funding was being targeted where it was most needed because it was important to keep Australians healthy and out of hospital. She said preventive health measures worked and local governments were introducing innovative physical activity and healthy eating programs that made a difference. Under Phase Three of the Healthy Communities Initiative, funding of $566,042 per grant was available for up to an additional 47 local governments for a period of up to 21 months (October 2011–June 2013). The application period for Phase Three grants was open between July 6 and August 19, 2011.



As previously announced in CM Magazine for Council Managers, Linton Pitt Lawyers are offering NSW Councils an overdue rate collection service that greatly lessens the additional burden of solicitor’s fees on overdue ratepayers. Developed under an innovative new process for collecting outstanding rates, developed with our parent company The ARMS Group Pty Limited, the system has approval from Local Government Procurement. Both councils and defaulting ratepayers will be better off under the system that guarantees a 60% discount on scale costs that currently are born initially by the council and subsequently passed to the debtor. We can provide debt collection services from the initial contact right through the litigation process. Our aim is to ensure all your ratepayers and customers have their accounts settled in a professional manner protecting the council’s good name and rehabilitating your customers to current payers. For those under hardship, our hardship team will professionally manage the accounts under the terms of Council’s guidelines. Linton Pitt has offices in Parramatta, Hornsby and Newcastle For more information please contact Jeffrey Joseph at Linton Pitt Lawyers (02) 9472 7450 | Email | 117 Pacific Highway Hornsby 2011


Local government constitutional recognition panel Two stalwarts of local government lead the sector’s representation on the panel established by the Federal Government to progress the recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution. President of the Australian Local Government Association, Genia McCaffery, and President of the Local Government Association of Queensland, Paul Bell, are part of the 18-member panel that will consult with stakeholder groups and the community on options for recognising local government in the Constitution. The panel will look into the level of support for constitutional recognition and identify possible forms that recognition could take. The outcomes of its consultations will help shape any proposal to put to a referendum. The panel is chaired by former Chief Justice of the New South Wales Supreme Court, James Spigelman. Other members representing local government or who have links to the sector include: – Lisa Scaffidi, the Lord Mayor of Perth; – Jim Soorley, Lord Mayor of Brisbane from 1991 to 2003 and a consultant to governments and business; – Lucy Turnbull, Lord Mayor of Sydney from 2003 to 2004 and Deputy Chair of an advisory panel to the COAG review of capital cities’ strategic planning systems; – Peter Clarke, newly appointed Chair of the Board of the Victorian Urban Renewal Authority and former Melbourne City Councillor; – Jane Prentice, former Brisbane City councillor and Federal MP; – Sid Sidebottom, former Central Coast councillor and Federal MP; and – Professor Graham Sansom, Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government and Director of the University of Technology, Sydney, Centre for Local Government. 8 | Council Manager Sept-Oct 2011

The panel will report to the Federal Government by the end of 2011. The government is committed to holding a national referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government during the term of the current government or at the next Federal election.

Outcomes from the roundtable and responses to the LG Indigenous Employment Program Green Paper — Closing the Gap through Place-based Employment — will also inform the development of a White Paper. An interim White Paper is due for completion at the end of 2011.

Councils urged to

Australian councils

strengthen Indigenous look to UK to alleviate employment

skill shortages

Councils around Australia have been urged by the Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Mark Arbib, to employ more Indigenous people. Mr Arbib made the call during an address to the National Roundtable on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment in Local Government. About 50 representatives from local government, federal and state government and Indigenous employment sectors attended the two-day roundtable to discuss how they could contribute to closing the gap on Indigenous employment. Minister Arbib said the Federal Government was committed to working with councils which are well placed to employ Indigenous Australians, especially in remote and regional areas. He said the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government had identified that local councils were facing a crisis in long- term workforce planning due to an ageing workforce and the skills drain from the regions which had been compounded by demand from the mining boom. Mr Arbib said the solution was investing in local Indigenous communities and individuals who could provide those skills in the long term. Roundtable delegates heard about practice models of Indigenous employment and Indigenous employment brokering in councils such as the LGPro award- winning Indigenous Employment Program in Latrobe City Council in Victoria. Since 2003, over 300 Indigenous people have been employed, with an 85–90% retention rate.

Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) has launched an international recruitment campaign to alleviate the skill shortages that are affecting the local government sector. LGMA National President and CEO of the City of Greater Dandenong, John Bennie, said many Australian government authorities were finding it difficult to recruit talent with the required skills and experience. Cr Bennie said local government was increasingly “making do by hiring staff with skills and experience lower than desired, just to get someone in the seat”. He said ultimately this approach would impact on the sector’s capacity to provide much needed services to communities, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland where councils were exposed to the significant impact of mining activity. The campaign “UK has talent!” was developed by the LGMA following a visit to the UK by national Chief Executive, John Ravlic. Mr Ravlic said UK local government was experiencing difficult times with some eight per cent of staff layoffs expected due to central government expenditure cuts in a move to balance the budget. He said an estimated 200,000 UK local government employees would lose their jobs over the next two to three years. Mr Ravlic said to assist Australian local government with attracting and recruiting the required skills and experience, LGMA had partnered with local government and international recruitment experts, McArthur and WALGA Workplace Solutions. He said more than 20 councils had expressed interest in the international

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE In an increasingly competitive labour market it is imperative that public sector employers implement strategies to position themselves as an employer of choice in order to attract, recruit and retain skilled personnel. The Public Sector Recruitment & Retention Conference 2012 will provide expert advice about how to identify, design and implement successful workforce planning strategies to meet the unique recruitment and retention challenges faced by the public sector. Through the presentation of practical information and case studies, this national conference will provide you, as a HR professional, with the chance to improve your knowledge of how to develop and implement successful recruitment and retention strategies – and ensure that your organisation remains one vital step ahead of the competition. The Public Sector Recruitment & Retention Conference 2012 will also offer a valuable opportunity for HR professionals to network and benchmark with their peers to develop successful strategies to optimise their recruitment and retention processes.

TOPICS MAY INCLUDE • Managing the talent pipeline and succession planning • Competing with the private sector to recruit and retain employees • Using HR metrics to measure and improve recruitment and retention processes • Incorporating private sector techniques into public sector recruitment and retention strategies • Improving recruiting systems • Maintaining diversity and equality in the workplace • Performance management and managing underperformance • Integrating social media into your organisation’s recruitment strategy • Recruiting to address skills shortages



“Great opportunity to share information, network and realise we are all in the same position and to work together”.

Individuals interested in speaking at the conference are invited to submit abstracts of approximately 100-150 words to:

“Well done – fantastic conference. Great speakers.”

Kim Coverdale, Conference Convenor, PO Box 6137, St Kilda Rd Central 8008

“Excellent practical ideas presented.”


WHO SHOULD ATTEND Public sector professionals who are responsible for, or associated with: Human Resources Recruitment Retention Organisational and Workforce Development People Management


This includes but is not limited to: Local Government State Government Federal Government Not-for-profit and charitable organisations Educational institutions Publicly funded utilities

This event will also provide a valuable opportunity for representatives of private industry to become informed of NBN roll-out issues at the local government level, and to engage and network with key representatives of Australia’s local government sector.

Contact Scott McKinnon, Manager - Strategic Business Development Phone: (03) 8534 5018 Fax: (03) 8534 5118 Email:

REGISTER INTEREST To register your interest in receiving the full speaking program when available please email Alternatively, contact Denise McQueen, Conference and Event Manager Phone: +61 3 8534 5050 Fax: +61 3 9530 8911 Email:


recruitment campaign. Over 30 current positions had been identified as not being filled in the following skills shortage areas; planning, engineering, environmental health, building surveying, maternal child health and IT. Councils interested in participating in the international recruitment initiative can register at under the international recruitment tab.

Landmark energy saving deal for regional council Wagga Wagga City Council and Low Carbon Australia have entered into an energy efficiency agreement, the first of its kind for regional Australia and a local government authority.

The agreement will see the council save about $60,000 off its energy bill and avoid over 188 tonnes of CO2-e each year. The project involves the installation of energy efficiency equipment at three key council facilities — the Civic Centre, Civic Theatre and Wagga Wagga Airport. Energy efficiency activities include light and light fitting retrofits, lighting controls and voltage reduction units. Wagga Wagga Mayor, Wayne Geale, said the project strengthened the council’s role as a community leader in improving its greenhouse footprint through smart business management. He said there was a substantial business and community network in the city, and council hoped that by leading the way, others would consider adopting such an innovative greenhouse action. Low Carbon Australia CEO, Meg McDonald, said the project was important for councils and businesses to access expertise and finance to purchase energy

saving equipment. She said it meant local governments and businesses could implement energy equipment, which would save them money and energy.

Renewed focus on customer service at Tweed Shire Tweed Shire Council has launched a revamped customer service system after several months of staff training and development. The council said the new system represented a streamlining of customer interaction involving telephone, face-to-face and electronic communications. Operations now focus on a Contact Centre model, with improvements including customer booths with computer and phone access to assist with detailed and technical queries; and improved to publications.

Experts in Local Government recruitment

• • • • • •

Executive and middle management recruitment Performance management of senior staff Staff satisfaction surveys Organisational reviews Remuneration reports Counselling and other support services • 02 9242 4142 •

Campaigning for an ongoing Roads to Recovery Program

By Genia McCaffery, ALGA President


n July, I wrote to all councils urging them to pass resolutions calling on the Federal Government to increase and extend the Roads to Recovery Program and address the estimated shortfall of investment in local roads. With the Roads to Recovery Program due to end in 2014, I believe it is now time for us to begin our campaign for the Program’s continuation. In the past, we have been very successful in securing two extensions to the Program and an increase in funding, which saw annual allocations rise to $350 million in 2009. By the time the Program ends in 2014, more than $4.5 billion in additional funding will have been provided for local roads. The campaign needs the support of every council as the continuation of Roads to Recovery is not a certainty in the current economic environment and there are sometimes confused and conflicting messages that come from parts of local government. We sent a powerful message to government in 2000 and we need to do that again. I believe our success in the past has come from mounting a strong and united campaign that has sent a clear message to the Federal Government about what local government needs to meet the roads access expectations of its communities and industries. There is no question that local government needs the funding. Research commissioned by ALGA and released at the 2010 National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Bunbury, shows that the annual national shortfall in funding for local roads is about $1.2 billion annually. Our message today is, as it was in 2000, that all councils need support to maintain their road systems. At ALGA we are concerned at suggestions that road funding should be provided only to certain councils on an application basis or that there should be changes in the simple, yet very effective and efficient, administrative arrangements for the Program. Such proposals could cloud our campaign or be used as an excuse for alternative and more complex administrative arrangements. As part of our campaign, we need to emphasise the benefits of the current arrangements and ensure that any new Program continues with administrative arrangements that avoid a web of red tape.

The administrative arrangements for Roads to Recovery give councils certainty of funding for five years and allow them to decide what projects are funded without the need for prior approval of Canberra. The Roads to Recovery Program is the only infrastructure program funded by the Federal Government that does not require detailed application and approval processes by the Federal Minister. To be blunt, the Roads to Recovery administration arrangements are not favoured by the National Audit Office and other parts of the Federal bureaucracy because of the lack of input for individual projects and hence the apparent lack of control. Yet despite several audits by the National Audit Office no major issues have been found with the Program, unlike other Federal Programs. The success of the delivery of the Roads to Recovery program is reflected in the resolution we have asked councils to pass and to forward to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and their local Federal Member of Parliament. ALGA will be launching local government’s Roads to Recovery campaign at the 2011 National Local Roads and Transport Congress to be held in Mount Gambier from 16–18 November. Our advocacy on this vital issue will be strengthened by a show of unity and it is important that as many councils as possible attend the Congress in Mount Gambier for the launch of the campaign to show local government’s strong support for continuing Roads to Recovery. Councils are encouraged to register for the Congress via the ALGA website and take advantage of our “early bird” registration rates. By working together, I have no doubt that we can deliver a convincing argument and achieve an ongoing Roads to Recovery Program.

Our message today is, as it was in 2000, that all councils need support to maintain their road systems.

Sept-Oct 2011 Council Manager | 11

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