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|Editions > 2005 > October||Sunday May 26, 2013 - Melbourne Time: 13:22:08|
NSW managers address change
Steve McGrath, New South Wales President of Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA), said the jury is still out on boundary adjustments and that this alone will not make Local Government in NSW stronger. Speaking at a recent State Annual Conference he said issues like asset management and the financial capacity of Councils to meet this, and ever increasing community expectations are paramount.
Titled Flight of the Phoenix, this year’s conference concentrated on recent reforms in NSW and how Councils are moving forward to meet these challenges. Steve McGrath called for increased partnerships in service delivery between State and Local Government.
“It is the responsibility of State and Local Government to work together to make our communities stronger,” he said. “LGMA has a good working relationship with the Department of Local Government and it is our collective responsibility to deliver better outcomes for our communities.”
Recently appointed Minister for Local Government in the new Iemma Government, Kerry Hickey told delegates that strong vibrant Local Government fosters strong vibrant communities. “We in the Iemma Government need Local Government and Local Government professionals to achieve our goals,” he said.
The Minister said now with 152 Councils, a reduction from 172, there would be no more forced amalgamations.
“If communities want to amalgamate, I am happy to discuss this,” he said.
The Minister pointed to various alliances where Councils are working together to deliver better services and infrastructure. He noted the successful New England Alliance and a number of others scattered around the State, including a cross border alliance between Murray and Campaspe in Victoria.
Moving from his prepared speech the Minister took questions from the floor. On the issue of a Council’s General Manager being a member of Conduct Committees with a voting right, the Minister said emphatically he would not be changing this.
With the introduction of the Model Code of Conduct in January this year, each Council is required to establish a Code of Conduct Committee to deal with allegations of misbehaviour against a Councillor. These Committees comprise the Mayor, General Manager and a representative of Council or independent person selected by Council.
The Minister said he will not entertain the suggestion that committees be set up on a regional basis, as he is adamant such matters should be decided locally. He sees no conflict of interest for either the General Manager or Mayor passing judgement on a Councillor (whose vote down the track could well determine their own future position).
“If these matters were decided regionally this could become a media circus,” the Minister said. He asked how many General Managers to date had been involved in a Conduct Committee hearing and at least ten indicated this to be the case.
A former Councillor himself, Minister Hickey put Councils on notice that he will be prepared to ‘sneak’ into Council meetings, if he sees fit.
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