In the six months since the election of Clare Martin’s Labor Government in the Northern Territory, there has been a shift away from the previous government’s move to amalgamate Councils. Community Development Minister, John Ah Kit, the first Aboriginal Minister in NT, and second anywhere in Australia, recently outlined to Parliament why a new approach is needed. He said four years on for Local Government Reform and Development Agenda of the former Government, the Tiwi Islands Local Government is the only a single run on the board.
Darwin City Council welcomed some 800 people who travelled to the Top End to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first bombing raids on Darwin that took place in the early morning and at noon on 19 February 1942. During the four day program organised by Council, the main event, the Commemorative Service at the Darwin Cenotaph, attracted 3,500 people. This is the only Cenotaph in Australia to have come under enemy attack.
Increasing responsibilities; rising community expectations; difficulties in keeping up with infrastructure maintenance, together with an escalating problem if this expenditure is deferred; soaring insurance premiums; plus unfunded mandates all contribute to the financial tightrope Councils are walking. This is translating into a reduction in services, a deterioration of the built infrastructure and a failure to be able to sufficiently address unsustainable practices. No matter how prudent Local Governments are in managing their operations, or how well they are stretching every available dollar, the lack of adequate resources means it is communities that are suffering.
In late 1999, when the Queensland Government announced that the $570 million Tarong North power station would be built, Kingaroy Shire Council swung into action to stimulate the opportunities arising from this major infrastructure project.As a result Council, in partnership with adjoining Nanango and Rosalie Shire Councils and with support from local businesses, community groups and the Department of State Development, created the Tarong Business Program.
A forecast of the challenges ahead, forming partnerships and a greater leadership role by Local Government were just some of the issues covered at the LGPro Annual Conference 2002. Held at Melbourne Park on 21 and 22 February, delegates heard the theme ‘Lifting the Horizon’ resonate through various presentations and discussions.
Member Councils of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) overwhelmingly endorsed changes to the MAV Rules at a Special State Council meeting held on 28 February. The key feature of the reforms was the introduction of a 12 (plus the President) member Board.
The Australian printing and publishing industry is currently working with the Australian Government to chart a new way forward. Just as well too because the impact of eCommerce and globalisation is putting firms in the firing line. The long standing book bounty has finished, and the industry already has a high level of foreign ownership. I was recently invited to a workshop in Melbourne to discuss options for industry growth, particularly how to compete with the hotspots of the UK, areas of the USA, plus the Asian Tigers, especially Hong Kong and Singapore. The fact that printing and publishing is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Australia, with a wide national coverage, gives it particular prominence, and the workshop discussion highlighted some issues worth quiet contemplation.
This year, in a collaborative venture with international affiliates in the USA and NZ, Local Government Managers Australia – Australia’s peak professional association – is mounting an International Best Practices Symposium in Darling Harbour on 10 and 11 May. This immediately precedes the Annual National Congress, also in Darling Harbour, from 12 to 15 May.
A unique initiative by the Huon Valley Youth Outreach Program has seen the transformation of what was once a mobile dental van, now converted to the Huon Valley Outreach Van. The area of Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, is 5,620 square kilometres and has 32 localities within its boundaries. As part of Council’s Outreach Program, the Youth Outreach Van will provide young people and others in rural areas access to services and resources, such as support, leisure equipment, and computer access, just to name a few.
The latest innovative design from Skateramps Australia has just been released, aptly named the Mobile Fun Box. In keeping with skating trends this new design moves on a step from the typical skate ramp, providing various obstacles to test and challenge skaters. As the central item of a skate venue, the Mobile Fun Box forms the nucleus and heart of the layout. However, what is unique about the design is its portability, enabling it to be moved from one location to another.
The 14th Women, Management and Employment Relations Conference, Sydney, 25 to 26 July 2002, will feature two presentations on paid maternity leave. Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Pru Goward, has put the issue at the top of her agenda. Her particular concern is that Australia has failed to provide adequate paid leave for women on maternity.
In the rapid transition to online services, organisations having the greatest success are those offering this faster, more convenient means to do business or source information alongside, or as an additional service to, traditional methods. Coercing people into using new systems will not win the public relations battle which many of our large financial institutions are now realising.
The Cyberbus program aims to take IT telecommunications resources into remote and rural townships within the Shire of Murrindindi, using an appropriately fitted out bus, in a similar manner to mobile library services. Located in north central Victoria, Murrindindi has a number of towns and villages within its area. The Cyberbus is totally independent from power and telephone lines, with an onboard generator.
Hosted by Coffs Harbour City Council, this popular Conference provides a forum for Local Government Managers and support staff to network, learn and exchange ideas.The theme for this year’s Conference is ‘Navigating a Secure Course’ – a reflection on current security issues and the need for professional planning and implementation to provide exceptional service delivery in Local Government.
An economic development plan has been adopted by the Council as part of a strategy to maintain Thuringowa as the fastest growing community in North Queensland. The Thuringowa Economic Development Plan cost Thuringowa City Council $180,000 to produce and has been described as a blueprint for the city’s economic development over the next decade.
Thuringowa City Council officials believe several aspects of Local Government modernisation programs in the United Kingdom can be applied to Queensland. This is the view of Thuringowa City Council Chief Executive Officer Lyn Russell, who joined Mayor Les Tyrell and Bill Gilmore from the Department of Local Government and Planning, on a tour of Councils in the UK last year. As winner of the ‘In Search of Best Practice Grant’, Thuringowa City Council was awarded $10,000 to assess best practice in the delivery of Local Government services to the community.
Thuringowa City Council has won several awards for excellence in planning. The most recent awards were presented at the 2001 Awards of the Queensland Division of the Royal Australian Planning Institute in Brisbane.
Thuringowa City Council has launched plans for improvements along an 11 kilometre stretch of the Ross River that could set the pace for a wide range of development options over the next 20 years. Mayor Les Tyrell has described the project as one of the most exciting and innovative ever undertaken in Thuringowa.
Thuringowa Mayor Les Tyrell recently launched Council’s changeover to an effluent reuse scheme for highway irrigation from one of its major sewerage treatment plants. Councillor Tyrell turned on the pumps used to irrigate garden beds along a two kilometre stretch of the Bruce Highway on the northern entrance to the city.
Work is underway on Thuringowa City Council’s new customer service centre. The centre, due to open in May, will be a one stop shop for Council business. A team of up to 10 specially trained staff will process inquiries from rates and registration to property searches and community information.
Thuringowa Council has produced a video of its award winning Biodiversity Study. The study, which has been incorporated into the city’s new Planning Scheme, lists the biodiversity of Thuringowa, from urban areas to costal habitats and the rainforest environment of the Paluma Range.
Thuringowa City Council has enhanced its updated system of electronic minutes with Councillors now trialing paper free meetings. The move is the latest stage of Council’s electronic minutes system which allows Councillors to log on to the Council network and download documents, such as agendas, reports and minutes, electronically to their laptop computers.
Two planning officers from Thuringowa City Council have been invited to speak at ‘Impact 2002’ – the first joint annual congress of the New Zealand Planning Institute and the Planning Institute of Australia (formerly RAPI).
Automatic rain gauges and radio controlled warnings on river heights are helping to keep Thuringowa City Council in touch with potential emergencies during wet seasons. The systems are operated through the Council’s Infrastructure Planning and Management Department.
Council is pushing for its region to be considered as a site for a future technology incubator. Council recently had discussions with Steve Copplin, Chief Executive Officer of i.lab (Queensland’s technology incubator) to assess Thuringowa as a potential location for a technology incubator.
Councils throughout Australia are moving steadily towards a new business model that fully embraces the Internet to deliver information and services to customers, suppliers and staff. Sanderson is leading the e-productivity race with its Authority e-Services solution. This is an enterprise wide system that facilitates full end to end electronic service delivery for both Council to business and Council to citizen communication.
The WinGIST suite of software provided by Phoenix Software continues to expand its client base within the Local Government sector. Phoenix Software has continued to develop and install the WinGIST suite of software in a growing number of Councils, with the latest being the Northern Grampians Shire Council based at Stawell, Victoria. Phoenix Software now has clients in three states including Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
Adopting a long term vision, making use of public sector research and developing technologies to suit our lifestyles not vice versa, were some of the issues raised at a recent conference entitled Leading Technology for Local Government – Putting Innovation to Work.
A program, called Linking Councils and Communities, is set to enhance the ability for Councils in Western Australia to interact with their communities via the Internet. The program is being developed by the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) and funded through the Commonwealth’s Networking the Nation Program.
Some 30 South Australian Councils have made the move or expressed commitment to online buying and quoting. The first to go live is the City of Port Adelaide Enfield.Using technology designed by Strategic Ecommerce Limited (SEL) in collaboration with eCouncils.com, Port Adelaide Enfield will adopt the online purchasing solution aptly named, StraightBUY.
HSC students in Penrith City schools will be giving toddlers in local child care centres early access to computers thanks to an innovative program to recycle old Council PCs.The program aims to tap into the need for vocational experience for HSC students and it will provide a minimum cost solution to delivering learning IT opportunities to all of Council’s child care centres.
The City of Canada Bay, the first amalgamated metropolitan Council in NSW in the current reform process, has selected the AXS-One Enterprise solution to integrate and streamline the work practices and financial data of the two merged Councils. In addition, the new system will provide Council with eCommerce and Business Intelligence capabilities both considered vital to the future of the new, larger Council.