April 2004 Edition

  • Vic Councils set green purchasing record
    Australia’s only Local Government green purchasing program has doubled the amount spent on recycled goods in one year. Through the Municipal Association of Victoria’s ECO-Buy program, Victorian Local Governments and waste management groups spent a record $33 million on green products during 2002–03, doubling the previous high of $15.3 million set in the preceding financial year.
  • Qld tally room a huge success
    On polling night the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) ran an Election Tally Room. As the results from across the State were being provided by each Council’s Returning Officer, they were posted on the LGAQ web site.

  • Wrestling with wicked problems
    There are problems which seem to defy any solution, and yet must be tackled. These are wicked problems. As defined by Laurence J. Peter, author of the Peter Principle, a wicked problem is “so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”
  • Council hands over minibus
    Young people in Nowra, NSW will have an easier time getting around after the keys of a nine seater minibus were presented to Nowra Youth Services by Shoalhaven Mayor Greg Watson last month.
  • A new breed of home carers in Port Phillip
    A municipality in Melbourne’s inner south is transforming the way it approaches home care service by introducing more flexible employment practices. Through a partnership with the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus, Port Phillip Council is now employing younger people, particularly students. Traditionally seen as an area for middle aged women, then Mayor, Councillor Liz Johnstone, said Port Phillip was now employing a younger breed of home carers, including more men.
  • Local politics in the pub
    Following each Council meeting in Launceston, Tasmania, Councillors head for the pub. Nothing unusual about that except that the aim is to meet people and discuss issues affecting the community.
  • SA community says no to amalgamation
    Voters in the District of Grant overwhelmingly voted to reject a voluntary amalgamation with the City of Mount Gambier in South Australia. A massive majority of 93 per cent of the Grant community did not want to support a proposal from Mount Gambier to merge into a single Council.
  • Amalgamations in north west New South Wales
    The New South Wales Government has created four new Local Government areas in the north west region of the state. The amalgamation creates four Local Governments from the previous nine.
  • Improving workplace culture: getting results
    The Labour Management Studies Foundations at Macquarie University is again hosting the 16th Women, Management and Employment Relations Conference. It will be held in Sydney on 22–23 July 2004 at the Hotel Inter-Continental.
  • Nedlands Outlines Its Best Practice Journey
    City of Nedlands was judged by the WA Local Government Association as the best Local Government in Western Australia after winning the coveted ALCOA Leadership Award for 2003. This is how we did it! Put simply, it didn’t happen overnight, the City has been on a best practice journey for some time now.
  • Councillor profiles
    A regular feature, this month we have interviewed two Councillors from Western Australia.
  • Multiculturalism at the forefront in Darebin
    Darebin Council’s CEO and seven General Managers are proving to their staff and other local Councils in Australia – how important a commitment to diversity is for providing services to multicultural communities. The Executive Management Team (EMT) of Darebin City Council recently won the prestigious LGPro Award for Excellence 2004 for Service Delivery, for their role in creating a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Darebin Ethnic Communities Council (DECC).
  • World’s longest lunch showcases local food and wine producers
    One of the highlights of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival this year running from 19 March to 4 April is the World’s Longest Lunch. At the main event in the tree lined St Kilda Road arts precinct, some 1,000 diners sat down to a three course meal at a 350 metre long table.

  • Jottings from Khancoban *
    Khancoban is a small town in the Snowy Mountains. With a population of around 300, it faces similar challenges to many other small towns in regional Australia. However, Khancoban is not your standard small town. It had a population of over 3,000 when the hydro scheme was under construction four decades ago – this means it has the infrastructure to service a bigger population. If it could get back to between 800 and 1,000 citizens, it would justify a chemist, hairdresser, a hospital, fully functioning supermarket and so forth. The staircase effect, postulated in the McKinsey Lead Local Compete Global study (1994) is so valid, but it’s the investment trigger that’s required to get the process started.
  • Rockhampton stepping up to the mark
    Every step counts in Rockhampton when the target is 10,000. A partnership between the University of Central Queensland, Rockhampton City Council and the State Government saw the development of 10,000 Steps Rockhampton, a program that encourages the Rockhampton community to be physically active.
  • Community plan owned by young people
    A youth plan that is owned and operated by young people and the wider community is the aim of a new initiative in Western Australia. Two young Indigenous people have recently joined the City of Geraldton to work on a project to gauge the needs of young people in the community.
  • Community Digital Archive launched in Pine Creek
    Pine Creek Community Council and the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT) launched the Pine Creek Community Digital Archive in March 2004. Using SearchTech’s Perfect Pictures image management software, the archive contains more than 1,500 historic images of Pine Creek’s pioneer and prospecting years. Similar image management solutions are used by libraries and tourism bodies.
  • Ashfield adopts Lifesaver street signs
    Ashfield Council has approved the phasing in of a new type of street sign throughout the entire Municipality. The Lifesaver signs by Streetsigns Australia indicate the addresses of houses on both sides of the street and which way the numbers run.

  • President's Comments
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Lynn Mason, President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania.
  • Editorial
    With the proportion of people aged over 65 years expected to overtake those aged less than 15 years, in various Australian States within the next decade, alarm bells are ringing loudly. Improvements in health care mean people are living longer, and at the same time they are keen to retire earlier. The introduction of compulsory superannuation has assisted their retirement, but for some people it came too late or they simply have not, or were not financially able to sufficiently top up employer’s contributions. This forced savings for retirement has encouraged others to plan carefully for their twilight years, so recent suggestions from the Federal Government that people should work longer has not been welcomed.
  • Our ageing community creates major issues across Australia
    The problem of an ageing population has finally begun to ring alarm bells in Canberra and across Australia. With baby boomers ageing and looking to retire, the remaining workforce is starting to shrink. Coupled with a wave of internal migration by retirees to the sea causing great stress to regional and coastal councils, this issue has major implications for Local Government. To focus attention, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) recently released a discussion paper – An Older Australia: Identifying Areas for Local Government Action – to encourage debate on the issue.

Feature: Engineering and Technical Services

  • New approach to caravan park management
    With increasing numbers of self drive visitors, particularly people in campervans, Council’s four caravan parks are an important part of its tourist strategy. Family holidays to the Shire have always been very popular, with a high demand for caravan park sites and more recently, self contained cabins.
  • A sea change for Ballina
    When Liz Shepherd, Tourism Manager of the Ballina Visitor Information Centre, started working for the Shire ten years ago, it was a much quieter, laid back place. A decade down the track, Ballina has become an important tourist destination with a range of activities, such as flat water kayaking, fishing and surfing.
  • Jewel in the crown: the Richmond River
    Ballina township has long recognised the beautiful Richmond River as the jewel in its crown. However, like many town and city centres, it was not making the most of the river’s many attributes. With this in mind, Council developed a masterplan for reinvigorating Ballina’s central business district focusing very much on the river and its environs.

  • Top class materials recovery centre
    Predicted population growth, and a community very supportive of environmental initiatives, it is not unexpected that the Shire of Ballina has one of the best waste recovery centres in regional Australia. With a weekly kerbside garbage collection for every residence in the Shire, a fortnightly recycling service is also provided for some 10,800 households or approximately 70 per cent of all properties.
  • Enhancing a vibrant retail sector
    With all indicators pointing to continuing population growth, alongside moderate to strong growth in tourism, Council has developed the Ballina Retail Strategy. Responding to community interest in maintaining a vibrant retailing sector, this strategy sets directions for future growth and development. It looks at various issues currently impacting, or expected to impact, on the regional economy and the Shire’s key business sectors.
  • Regional Works Crew delivers results
    Ballina Shire Council employs a specialist parks and gardens crew that has been winning private work and, as such, is a self supporting unit. Nothing particularly special about that except the ten member Regional Works Crew all have an intellectual disability.

  • Economic boost with land sales
    Astute acquisition of land and timely releases of allotments has resulted in many new businesses establishing in the Shire. Council has developed two industrial estates. The Southern Cross Industrial Estate in Ballina is strategically located close to the Pacific Highway and the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport. The Russellton Industrial Estate is located at Wollongbar just 10 minutes from the City of Lismore.
  • Business units provide jobs and pour profits back into the community
    Ballina Readimix Concrete (BRM) is a Council owned business venture currently employing five people. Purchased in 1993, BRM competes with the local branches of two multinational companies.
  • Community involvement in managing water resources
    “Keeping ahead of our growing population with the supply of water and wastewater services is a major exercise,” said John Truman, Group Manager Civil Services. “Covering both water supply and waste water management, our Urban Water Strategy is one of just two integrated strategies in New South Wales.”
  • Sea change Council meets the challenges
    Like many of our coastal areas, the Shire of Ballina is experiencing rapid growth. Located on the pristine north coast of New South Wales, the area’s beautiful coastal reserves, fertile hinterland, attractive towns and villages are a huge drawcard for retirees and those opting for a sea change. A quiet fishing village just a decade ago, Ballina township is now a thriving centre with 20,000 people or half the Shire’s population residing here. An annual growth rate of almost two per cent means Council faces a number of challenges meeting current and future community needs.
  • Cycling along the coast
    People visiting Ballina will soon have the opportunity to cycle or walk along some of the most beautiful coastline in the country. About 15 kilometres of environmentally friendly bike track will soon connect the towns of Ballina and Lennox Head. With the Lennox Head section was completed in 2003, the full track expected to be completed by 2007.

  • Traffic modelling
    With the Pacific Highway passing through the Shire, the predicted increase in heavy road transport and self drive tourists, as well as increased local trips with population growth, has led Council to develop a 20 year traffic network model. This identifies what infrastructure works will be required to cope with traffic growth over this period.
  • Protecting unique village atmosphere through place management
    Covering 487 square kilometres of coastal reserves and agricultural hinterland, the Shire has a number of towns and villages. To meet the current and future needs of these unique urban centres, Council uses a place management approach.
  • Ballina: facts and figures
    Located on the northern coast of New South Wales, Ballina Shire is a richly diverse area. It is blessed with a temperate sub tropical climate in a mainly rural setting of agriculture and national forests. With more than 15 per cent of Ballina’s land reserved to protect wetlands and habitat, along with a further 2.4 per cent preserved for the National Park, it is home to a wide range of plants and animals that flourish in the environment.
  • International Local Government Asset Management Conference
    The inaugural International Local Government Asset Management Conference will address many topical issues relevant to councils nationwide. Hosted by the Municipal Association of Victoria, it will be held at the Melbourne Convention Centre 12–13 May. Keynote addresses from local and international speakers, interactive workshops, panel discussions and case studies will provide a higher level of awareness and understanding about global, national and state trends in asset management.
  • Carrara Catchment urban stormwater initiative
    Water flowing into the Nerang River on the Gold Coast in Queensland will be far clearer thanks to extensive improvements in the catchment area. The $1.5m Carrara Urban Stormwater Initiative Project is an innovative, whole of catchment pilot project involving a series of best practice stormwater quality improvement devices developed by Gold Coast City Council.
  • Award winning ramp for Christmas Island
    To help maintain a viable fishing industry and protect the local environment, while improving visitor access to the East Coast Beach on Christmas Island, was quite a task.
  • Alliance to combat graffiti
    An alliance of volunteers, corporations and Local Government has begun a targeted fight against graffiti in Melbourne’s west. Volunteers from the Lions Club of Altona began a clean up campaign on graffiti last month using new Council equipment valued at $3,500 in their anti-graffiti trailer.
  • Casey moves beyond good design
    Good engineering can impact on a community in ways far beyond bold and striking design. Recently, an innovative regional park in Casey has been recognised as both an excellent example of infrastructure and as a means to build a strong and healthy community. The Ray Bastin Reserve in Narre Warren is an integrated park that provides a great opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to interact, participate and promote a healthy lifestyle.
  • Moira reclaims and revitalises tourist area
    Working against the clock, a 420 metre shore wall was built to reclaim more than one hectare of land along Lake Mulwala on the Victorian/New South Wales border. The $1.2 million Yarrawonga Foreshore Reclamation Project was developed to increase the size and appeal of this recreation area.
  • Affordable housing *
    In the UK, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a major influence on all Government policy and on the finance available to Government Departments to pursue their policy initiatives. This was illustrated in the latest budget in March 2004 where the Chancellor announced that it was proposed to cut 40,000 civil service jobs in the next four years as part of a program to save £20 billion.
  • Dr David Suzuki launches Frankston vision
    The internationally recognised scientist and conservation campaigner, Dr David Suzuki, recently launched Greening Frankston. Frankston Council, one of the first Local Governments in Victoria to appoint conservation officers, is now embarking on a seven point campaign program to protect the environment.
  • Transport forum presses for improved roads links
    The Princess and Monaro Highways between Wollongong in New South Wales and Dandenong in Victoria were the focus when East Gippsland Shire Council hosted a two day South East Australian Transport Strategy (SEATS) meeting last month. The forum supported a call from Bega Valley Shire Council for the replacement of the Pambula Bridge in Merimbula as a critical improvement to this vital traffic link.
  • Historic site challenging engineers
    Relearning the engineering techniques of the 1830s is the key to preserving one of Australia’s most important historic sites. Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula, south east of Hobart was built as a prison settlement in 1833 quickly established a reputation as being hell on earth. While it was once the most feared place in the British Empire, the buildings are now some of the most important in Australian history and the need to conserve them grows every year.
  • Footpath parking trials begin
    An inner city council in Sydney is looking at an innovative solution to traffic problems in narrow streets. The cramped roads of Balmain have often meant that legally parked cars have blocked ambulances and fire engines as well as regular traffic. Many cars have been side swiped or lost their wing mirrors because of the narrow streets. After years of lobbying by Leichhardt Council, the NSW Road Traffic Authority has finally agreed to allow trial footpath parking in selected narrow streets in Leichhardt.

  • Councils take up the fight against plastic bags
    Plastic bags are a convenient way to shop, but they are also a blight on the landscape, ruining waterways and parks across the country. Local Governments in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland are leading the charge against the plastic scourge.
  • Marion’s private sector partnership for pool
    National and international companies are expected to bid for the right to build and operate the State Aquatic Centre in Marion, South Australia. South Australian Recreation Sport and Racing Minister, Michael Wright, joined Marion Mayor, Felicity-Ann Lewis, to sign a memorandum of understanding at the site of the proposed State Aquatic Centre to kickstart an expression of interest process. It is proposed that the State Aquatic Centre will be built and managed by the private sector.