March 2004 Edition

  • Windmills link two Shires
    Two councils in different States are linked by a special historical bond. Jerilderie Shire Council in the NSW Riverina and Taroom Shire in the central Queensland highlands have on show rare windmills of unusual design. Both are situated on National Route 39, the Newell and Leichhardt Highways, which provide a straight run from Victoria to the Queensland tropical coast.

  • Transport vision for Perth’s South West
    Local Governments in Perth representing more than 300,000 people have put forward a case for an integrated transport plan to the Western Australian Government in response to the proposed building of a train line through the region. The South West Group of Councils, along with the Western Australian Department for Planning and Infrastructure, have presented to the Planning and Infrastructure Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, a transport vision for south west metropolitan Perth.
  • Hunter Councils take sharing resources to a new level
    New South Wales Minister for Local Government, Tony Kelly, formally opened the Hunter Councils’ new premises on 20 February. “This is a fantastic facility,” he said. “It’s a strong example of how councils can work together to meet mutual needs. Another good thing is that, as a commercial venture, any profits flow back to the community.”

  • LGPro striking a balance
    Striking the balance was the theme of 2004 LGPro conference held at the Melbourne Park Conference Centre in February. The conference opened by looking at the theme of balance from several different viewpoints.
  • Coastal areas under threat from rapid growth
    Coastal areas around Australia are under threat from an environmental or community catastrophe from rapid population growth, a Local Government summit was told last month. With the baby boomers reaching retirement age and looking for coastal properties to live in, areas along the Australian coast are showing signs of great stress with populations rising rapidly.
  • Two Local Government events not to be missed
    Every year the Local Government Managers Australia National Congress delivers a program with content based on real and emerging issues in Local Government around Australia. Designed by practitioners, it is very much solution and improvement oriented. Councillors and managers can target any of the 30 plus topics to better equip their organisation for the roles that they play on behalf of their communities.
  • Local Government leading the way in annual reporting
    Triple bottom line is a corporate buzzword that means combining environmental, social and financial reporting. It is a way that an annual report can describe the full impact of an organisation’s decisions and actions. The phrase seems to be on everyone’s lips, but the reality is that few corporations or organisations have really attempted to report in this manner.
  • Councillor profiles
    A regular feature, this month we have interviewed two Councillors from the Northern Territory.
  • PR practitioners meet in Sydney
    Public Relations professionals from councils and peak Local Government organisations met recently in Sydney for their first annual conference as a national body. The Local Government Public Relations Association (LGPRA) was established in New South Wales 12 years ago and at the end of 2003 became a National Association. Its members now represent councils from each State, as well as the Local Government Associations in each State and Territory.
  • Awards for colourful spaces
    With flower gardens one of the quiet pleasures of life, a new award has been set up to acknowledge the creative flair of Local Governments’ parks and gardens teams. Called the 2004 Australian Local Government Flower Garden Awards, they will be presented in each State and Territory. A national winner will then be selected for their plantings over winter into spring this year.
  • Many hands at the pump! *
    When Sir Phillip Lynch was the Federal Industry Minister back in the 1980s (after his stint as Treasurer, I think), he would invariably give delegations the bad news about funding with the words “There are many hands at the pump, and the well is getting dry!” Similar messages emanating from the Government now are nonsense. The well is not dry, and this will be borne out in coming months as pre-election promises are made by the Government and the Opposition.
  • Marketing LG to new graduates
    Victorian councils are hoping to stem growing skill shortages by marketing the sector to new graduates. Over the past year, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has been working with Councils and a special interest group of human resources professionals to develop a two year graduate program. The program, known as GoGrad, will be launched at careers fairs across the State in March.
  • President's Comments
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Brad Matheson, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria.
  • Three-way partnership – winners all round for local community
    People in Blackwood, South Australia should be a bit fitter soon with the opening of a new recreation centre providing a venue for soccer, hockey, basketball, netball, badminton and other sports. The completion of the new $4 million multifunction community recreation centre has highlighted the importance of effective partnerships between State and Local Governments and their communities.
  • Campaign to reduce litter in waterways and oceans
    Colac Otway Shire’s ‘Bin it or swim in it’ campaign aims to reduce the amount of litter in waterways and out to sea. As part of the promotions, an oversized ‘Butts Out’ figure was paraded along the beach during a surf carnival last January and stopped traffic at the pedestrian crossing before asking people in the shopping area to put their ‘butts in the bin’ to help the sea environment.

  • Editorial
    Last year, the Australian Government’s Inquiry into Cost Shifting recommended that a major overhaul of inter governmental relations was well overdue. This being an election year, whether the follow up to this Inquiry gets the attention it should, given the raft of issues that are already being canvassed, remains to be seen. Cynics might suggest that unless there is some electoral advantage from a showdown with the States, it could well end up in the too hard basket for the time being.
  • UN recognises Yarra City Council
    A Local Government campaign that highlighted the plight of East Timorese children in Australia to stop their community’s deportation has received international recognition. The campaign by the City of Yarra with the public relations consultancy Socom received the ‘Golden World United Nations Award’ for 2003 for its ‘Common Sense for East Timorese – Let Them Stay’ advocacy campaign.

  • Intelligent communities offering quality lifestyles
    With more than 60 per cent of Australian households owning a computer and around 50 per cent with Internet access, barriers of distance are quickly being broken down. More people have greater flexibility as to where they live, rather than being restricted to proximity to their work.Speaking at the recent Intelligent Cities 2, the City of Whittlesea’s fourth annual technology innovation conference, Robin Eckermann, Conference Chair and Chief Architect at Transact Communication, said that faster, cheaper technology, together with ever increasing capability, is having a profound affect on the way communities are evolving.

Feature: Information Technology & Communications

  • Reforming financial relations
    In a national first, the Tasmanian Government has agreed to pay Council rates on most of its properties while Local Government has agreed to pay payroll and land tax. It is a development that has national implications.

  • Premier’s Local Government Council
    Nearly four years ago, Premier Jim Bacon, established the Premier’s Local Government Council (PLGC) as a forum to discuss issues of statewide significance between the two spheres of government. The Council meets up to three times a year, with Premier Bacon as chair and nine elected Local Government representatives from various Tasmanian Councils, including the President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, Councillor Lynn Mason.
  • Activities for everyone
    The waterways and forests of Gannawarra are the key attractions for visitors to the area. The area is a popular destination for fishermen with Murray Cod, Yellowbelly and Redfin the preferred catches. Yabbies and freshwater crayfish are also popular with fisherman.

  • Message from the Premier of Tasmania
    I am proud of what my Government has been able to achieve by working together with Local Government. Our Partnership Agreement program leads Australia. Our approach is innovative and focuses on outcomes, through a structured commitment to cooperation, consultation and communication. We have now signed 19 bilateral Agreements between the State Government and individual Councils, as well as three regional and four statewide agreements.

  • Agriculture a key industry
    Agriculture is the key industry with milk, pork production, cereal crops, livestock, horticulture, citrus and viticulture. There are some 137,000ha of irrigated land in the Shire plus dry land areas. Gannawarra is rich in agricultural diversity and Council is extremely active in promoting new opportunities for agricultural production and processing.
  • Welcome to the Gannawarra Shire
    Gannawarra Shire, with a population of 11,900 is located in North Central Victoria, two and a half hours drive from Melbourne. Gannawarra is one of the leading shires in Victoria in terms of agricultural output, with a diverse range of products produced. The dairy industry accounts for around 47% of agricultural output, followed by grain at 22%, red meat 13%, pork 9%, legumes 5% and horticulture 4%. Manufacturing and industry within the Shire is closely linked to agriculture and, like most smaller rural shires, the local economy fluctuates with the rise and fall of commodity prices and climatic conditions.

  • Shire profile
    The main population centres are Kerang 4,100 people and Cohuna 2,200 people. These are important service centres for surrounding areas providing commercial and community services to a catchment of 18,000 people including New South Wales border towns. Other towns include Quambatook. Lalbert, Leitchville, Lake Charm, Koondrook and Murrabit.

  • Knowing what’s happening in and around Redland
    Local Government is abuzz with things going on. There are meetings, festivals and activities across all areas. It is almost impossible for anyone to keep abreast of this constant whirl of activity. The online corporate calendar at Redland Shire Council in Queensland, called WhatsOn, is an important communications tool that aids in planning and is coordinating corporate events, and a central database of events relevant to all staff.
  • Recording and web streaming Council meetings
    Fremantle City Council has installed the JAVS system for its Council Meetings and Development Assessment Committee meetings. Introduction of a new audio visual system in Council Chambers has allowed for more accurate minute taking and greater efficiency.

  • Local-e: steady but sure development of Internet services in rural NSW
    Some features of new information technology have been most warmly welcomed in rural Australia where communication and distance have been a perennial problem. There is often a far greater need for the delivery of e-services in country and regional areas than in the city. Involving more than 100 Local Governments, Local-e aims to improve the availability of online services for NSW country councils.
  • The Canadian experience
    With over 80 per cent of its population living in urban centres, its geographical size, and three levels of government, Canada has many similarities to Australia. Director IT and Planning at the City of Toronto, John Johnston, told delegates at the Intelligent Cities Conference staged last month by Whittlesea City Council that ‘Smart Communities’ in Canada has very much been driven by the Federal Government.
  • Is your Council web site neglected? *
    Good web sites ensure residents and ratepayers have access to vital information 24 hours a day and are assisting councils in reducing workloads with less face to face and telephone inquiries. Unfortunately some councils are not taking full advantage of this technology and often fall short in providing an easy to use, up to date service for their users.
  • End-to-end eProcurement *
    Yarra Valley Water is a retail water company, owned by the Victorian State Government, supplying water and sewerage services to 1.5 million people covering over 4,000 square kilometres of Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs. Consistent with the Government’s ‘Connecting Victoria Policy’, Yarra Valley Water’s e-Business strategy has been developed with an emphasis on offering customers the option of conducting all transactions over the Internet, if they so desire.
  • Travelling to Tamar Valley on the web
    If you are considering travelling to Tasmania, planning for the journey may be a little easier when you visit the Tamar Valley with a new tourism web site for the region.
  • New technology helps manage parks and open space areas
    Open space and parks seem to be a world away from the cutting edge of IT, but appearances can be deceptive. The City of Yarra in Victoria, working with InfoPark Pty Ltd, has raised the benchmark in planning and managing open space by using information technology.
  • IT2004 – call for papers
    2004 sees the 7th Information Technology Conference for Local Government – IT2004, scheduled for 16–19 November in beautiful Coffs Harbour. The conference is being hosted by Coffs Harbour City Council and provides a forum for Local Government managers and support staff to network, learn and exchange ideas.
  • Benchmarking online in Tasmania
    In Tasmania a benchmarking service is now being provided by the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) online to all its councils. The page is also open to the general public to view. Developed under the Networking the Nation program, the system located at is innovative as the data published in the system is not passive but can interact with users to provide comparative, trend and modelling analysis.
  • First waterproof portable land mobile radio
    In a tough environment, you need a radio that is even tougher. Icom (Australia) Pty Ltd has now made that radio. The decision to create a high performance, fully submersible radio for the land mobile market came from observing how portable radios are actually used in the field.
  • Hitech community consultation
    Consultation in Local Government is being given a helping hand from new phone and computer technology. In New South Wales and Western Australia, new approaches are being tried to get the community involved in decision making. To tap into the views of a broader range of its community, Sutherland Shire Council in New South Wales has improved its community consultation process by introducing a Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI) system.
  • Harnessing the potential of the intranet
    Email in the workplace has become a blessing and a curse. While it has improved communication to a great degree, it has also started to impact on performance. Just keeping on top of the inbox was becoming a job in itself. In contrast, the intranet is often overlooked as a valuable communication and service tool across Local Governments. Moreland City Council in Victoria has tried an innovative solution through its intranet site MoreNET to provide a better place for non urgent communication across the organisation.
  • Optimising your telecommunications
    Voice Communications Australia Pty Limited is a proud sponsor of the New South Wales Local Government and Shires Associations. Delivering quality turnkey Voice and Data Solutions to the corporate and government markets, VCA is also a Telstra accredited dealer. As such, it is able to offer telecommunications consultancy to government sectors as well as being able to implement any of the Telstra services.
  • Technology helps predict threat of floods
    Farmers and residents living in the Macleay River Valley in Kempsey Shire are well aware of the threat of floods and the need for communications in difficult times. As with any coastal centre on a river system, the ability to inform people about the level of rainfall and river is critical. Kempsey Shire Council launched a flood web page last year to provide this information to people in the Macleay River catchment. The flood warnings are available 24 hours a day, seven day a week.
  • Bunbury – smart way forward
    More people will be using personal computers in Bunbury, Western Australia following a commitment to make the city a smart community. Improving information and communication technologies for businesses and the broader community was the aim of an economic development strategy endorsed by Council recently. The strategy aims to increase community use of new technologies to improve its commercial competitiveness.
  • Fremantle goes online
    Residents of Fremantle in Western Australia will soon have access to a comprehensive e-payment system for all Local Government services. Scheduled to be in operation by April, the system will allow the people of Fremantle to pay for almost anything electronically, either online or by phone.
  • Template for IT at Baulkham Hills
    Baulkham Hills Shire Council has developed a good model for Local Government to improve its use of information technology. Manager Information Technology, Ron Challenor, said the aim of the project was to develop an innovative Information Management and Technology Strategic Plan. Many other Local Governments have taken an interest in the work at Baulkham Hills, particularly the land and property information systems.
  • Councils see measurable results from Civica’s e-Services
    Public sector software specialist Civica partnered with the City of Whittlesea at the recent Intelligent Cities Conference. Civica supply web enabled, enterprise software to Local Government, libraries and the health insurance industry and estimate that more than eight million people within Australian communities are served by Civica software.
  • Technology enabled *
    Customers want access to interesting, user friendly content relevant to their individual needs at a point in time when they need it and with a supporting functionality that enables them to meet their needs. They want confidence that if they decide to transact their business they can do so within a secure environment that will not lead to either them being defrauded or their confidentiality being breached. They also want the confidence that what they seek and agree to be delivered will be delivered to agreed time scales and quality.
  • Less paperwork with pintsized PCs
    City of Kingston is the first council in Victoria to introduce an innovative handheld personal computer system developed by Fujitsu. The technology replaces an outdated paperwork procedure previously used by their home carers. The software enables carers to access and print rosters while in the field and retrieve job details as they visit each client. The client signs on the screen of the device when the job is completed.

  • Corporate planning goes online in Queensland
    Information technology and corporate planning would seem to be perfect partners. The Internet offers the ability to gain access to information immediately and sound corporate planning in Local Government requires the same approach across different parts of an organisation – often in different locations. The Internet can provide the same information updated to the second and this is crucial in effective corporate planning in a diverse environment.