A year of change for Tasmania
2017 is shaping up to be a busy, change-driven year for Tasmanian councils. The New Year brought new building legislation, which takes a risk-based approach to building approvals. One consequence is a greater compliance role for councils but reduced revenue from permits. Implementation was rapid so there is now a lot of learning, sharing and consolidation underway. The Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) has lobbied effectively to ensure appropriate resources in State Government during this implementation and transition period.
The State Government is shortly to declare State Planning Provisions as part of the new statewide Tasmanian Planning Scheme, triggering much work for councils as they prepare new local provision schedules. This is one of a number of planning reforms that will continue this year, including a revised approach to visitor accommodation and major project assessments.
Councils are continuing to undertake and respond to the findings of feasibility studies into resource sharing and amalgamations in partnership with the State Government. Given the commitment that any changes must be in the best interest of ratepayers, improve the level of services for communities, preserve and maintain local representation and ensure the financial status of councils are strengthened; there is much to consider, and community engagement will feature heavily in 2017. The sector will also be considering and implementing changes to the Local Government Act following a targeted review focused primarily on roles and responsibilities and providing feedback into a 12-month review on the Code of Conduct legislation which commenced in 2016.
With all that is going on, it is timely for LGAT to be revisiting its Strategic Plan to ensure that our activities continue to provide the best service possible to the sector. It is important that what we do is well aligned with both the changing work environment and our members’ needs and aspirations. This will place LGAT in a strong position for advocacy ahead of a State Election, to be held before the end of March 2018.
We will undertake our advocacy work within a context of building and improving the way we showcase the accessibility, diversity and innovation demonstrated by councils in delivering vital community infrastructure and services to communities across the State. Through a greater focus on what councils are delivering for communities, we aim to build a better understanding of Local Government across government, industry and communities, as well as enabling more sharing and learning across our member councils.