May 2004 Edition

  • Community Business Partnerships Brokerage Service regional seminar series launched in Bendigo
    Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, launched the regional seminar series of the Community Business Partnerships Brokerage Service in Bendigo on 6 May. The Bendigo seminar is the first in an Australia wide series to promote the benefits of community groups and businesses joining together to strengthen their local community. Twelve seminars, developed in coordination with Local Governments, are scheduled to be held across Australia between May and September this year.
  • District Council of Yorke Peninsula
    Agriculturally rich – naturally beautiful
    The District Council of Yorke Peninsula was formed on 10 February 1997 as a result of the voluntary amalgamation of the Warooka, Yorketown, Minlaton and Central Yorke Peninsula district councils. A permanent workforce of 130 supports, via a budget of $17 million, the vision of ‘Building a quality future for our communities’. The Council covers an area of 5,834 square kilometres, with a distance of approximately 175 kilometres between its northern and southern boundaries. Being a peninsula, it has a varying width east to west averaging approximately 30 kilometres.

  • Postal voting a winner in WA
    Postal voting has drawn a higher turnout of voters for Local Government elections according to figures recently released by Western Australian Local Government Department for the May 2003 election. The statewide voter turnout of 27 per cent was significantly higher than 15.5 per cent when in person voting was used.
  • Promoting Local Government’s ‘natural advantage’
    Many local leaders were exposed to a new way of thinking about the environment during an event for Councils participating in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives environmental campaigns in Melbourne last month. Hunter Lovins who is a co-author of the celebrated book Natural Capitalism expounded the ideas.
  • Community wisdom to deal with ‘wicked problems’
    How to tackling some of the most critical and complex problems facing Australia was the theme of the inaugural national community development conference, Wrestling Wicked Problems – A New Approach. Staged in Canberra from 2–4 May, the conference attracted 250 delegates from all States and Territories, with one third from Local Government authorities.
  • Stronger Families and Communities Strategy 2004–2008
    On 7 April, the Prime Minister announced a commitment of $365.8 million over four years for the continuation of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, to provide better opportunities for thousands of Australian children and families through innovative grassroots projects. Going forward for the next four years, the Strategy will have particular emphasis on early childhood initiatives and resources that can be used to achieve better outcomes for children and their families. Strong families with healthy, well adjusted children require strong, stable communities in which to grow. To this end, the Strategy also continues to support communities and initiatives building capacity, leadership and mentoring. The focus on early childhood development in the new Strategy has been guided by the latest research and the consultation feedback from the National Agenda for Early Childhood.
  • Councillor profiles
    A regular feature, this month we have interviewed two Councillors from New South Wales.
  • Building communities during Queensland Local Government Week
    From 19–25 July , Queensland councils will showcase the people, local facilities and services that shape councils – all in an effort to create a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of Local Government. The theme for the Week is Local Government – Building our Communities.

  • Bicycle Victoria calls for end to deadly roundabouts
    Bicycle Victoria has launched a toolbox that aims to put an end to poorly designed roundabouts on local streets by giving alternatives that are safer for cyclists and walkers. In Victoria, more than five per cent of bicycle injuries and deaths occur at roundabouts even though they make up only a small percentage of total intersections.

  • Bungendore the brave *
    David MacLaren, a native of New York, arrived in Australia in the late 60s to study philosophy and literature at the Australia Natioanl University. He was young and freewheeling, and developed a strong interest in woodworking at a time when arts and crafts were beginning to enjoy a strong growth phase. In 1983, he opened a Wood Works Gallery in the quiet, rural village of Bungendore,30 minutes drive from Canberra, towards Bateman’s Bay.
  • Australia’s tidiest towns for 2004 announced
    Port Vincent in South Australia has been named Australia’s Tidiest Town for 2004. The 400 strong community, on the Yorke Peninsula west of Adelaide, took out this prestigious prize at a gala ceremony at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, Western Australia last month.

  • Inquiry into New South Wales Council Elections
    The New South Wales Local Government and Shires Association is holding an inquiry into the conduct of the 2004 Local Government State Electoral Office elections held on 27th March. Secretary General of the Association, Bill Gillooly, said the inquiry was prompted after it had received poor feedback from many Councils and candidates about problems with the 2004 elections.
  • President's Comments
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Clive Robartson, President of the Western Australian Local Government Association.
  • Editorial
    The recent six to one decision by the High Court to deny Local Governments the right to rate communications giants Telstra and Optus is a disappointing one for all involved in Local Government. The decision effectively ends the long running battle between 13 Local Governments in New South Wales and four in Victoria with the telecommunications companies. This issue first arose in 1996 when the companies began rolling out pay TV cables from powerlines.
  • New planning framework goes out for consultation
    The gloves come off as ALGA fights to protect the planning role of Councils and third party appeals.
    A nationwide consultation program was rolled out last month on the draft Leading Practice Model for Development Assessment that aims to improve consistency in planning and development practices across Australia. Even before the consultation was announced, the model had already drawn fire from Local Government across the country over proposals to separate planning roles and stop third party appeals.

Feature: Engineering and Technical Services

  • Natural disaster funding boost for Local Government
    A new national programme aimed at identifying and tackling natural disaster risk priorities across the nation was recently launched by the
  • Meeting the natural disasters challenge
    Follow up summary report
    In February 2004, we reported that the recommendations contained in the report, Natural Disasters in Australia: reforming mitigation, relief and recovery arrangements, have received in principle agreement from the Council of Australian Governments.

  • Tourism Impact Model
    In March 2004 the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Joe Hockey MP, launched the Tourism Impact Model for Australian Local Government. The model and associated manual has been provided free of charge to councils across Australia.
  • Helping Australia’s regions attract professional and skilled people
    A practical guide for rural and regional communities wanting to attract and retain professional and skilled people has just been released. Attracting and retaining skilled people in regional Australia: a practitioner’s guide provides a range of very useful case studies from all around Australia.
  • New visa for regional Australia: Skilled Independent Regional visa
    Regional migration provides significant economic and social benefits to Australia. State and Territory Governments and regional employers use regional migration programs to source skilled workers in line with their business needs and economic development objectives. Australia’s regions provide a popular lifestyle destination for skilled workers from overseas. Attracting skilled workers to an area boosts local economies and populations, diversifies workforces and may even attract overseas investment.
  • Managing our natural resources – Local Government involvement in regional planning
    The Australian Government is working cooperatively with State and Territory Governments and in partnership with regional bodies, Local Governments, community groups and industry across the country to encourage the sustainable management of our natural resources. Integrated regional plans and investment strategies provide the means for identifying and coordinating actions to address priority issues in individual regions.
  • Business Entry Point
    Business Entry Point (www.business.gov.au) has now been in the market place for over five years, providing Australian small businesses and other interested parties with online access to information about a wide range of government related activities relevant to starting and running a business. It is of use to local councils in many ways, either directly, providing information on taxation; employment; e-business; importing and exporting; fair trading and so forth; but also for a range of other activities which can support business, especially small businesses, to be successful.
  • Assisting Local Government to find regional data
    Many see the Australian Bureau of Statistics primarily as a collector of information but just as importantly it is an information provider as well. While Local Governments throughout Australia provide considerable information to the ABS on a range of subjects, consolidated information is available to Councils which, together with Population Census information, can assist not only with planning and other community servicing decisions but also with benchmarking best practice.
  • Leading Practice Model for Development Assessment launched
    Development Assessment Forum
    The Development Assessment Forum was created to identify leading edge approaches to development assessment in Australia. The forum’s membership includes the three spheres of government, the development industry and related professional associations.
  • Strategically focused
    Nedlands continues with its business improvement journey
    The City of Nedlands business improvement journey has resulted in many benefits for Council and its community. The foundation building block used to give unity of purpose across the City and identify the desired results is the corporate strategic plan. This plan is about strategic outcomes and the actions, which are necessary to achieve corporate goals.

  • Message from the Minister
    I am pleased to be invited to introduce this edition of the National Perspective and to take the opportunity to share with you what has been happening at the national level since February.
  • Major procurement savings *
    State Procurement develops and manages goods and services contracts on behalf of the State Contracts Control Board (SCCB) for use by New South Wales Government departments and agencies and not-for-profit organisations. State Procurement delivers innovative business solutions at exceptional value through harnessing across government purchasing power. On average, cost savings through purchasing from SCCB contracts is estimated at 12 per cent for medium to large agencies and 25 per cent for small agencies.
  • Mapoon Dreaming links an Indigenous community
    The winner of the Special Award for Strengthening Indigenous Communities in the 2003 National Awards for Local Government was the Mapoon Council in Queensland. Mapoon Dreaming involved a comprehensive and participatory strategic planning process that recognised and respected local culture and aspirations, and built upon community strengths and assets to find workable solutions.
  • Australian Business Excellence Framework getting results
    Moreland Council in Melbourne’s northern suburbs has begun using the Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF) to test services against the six Best Value Principles. Under Victorian legislation, all services must be extensively reviewed under Best Value Principles of quality and cost standards, responsiveness, accessibility, continuous improvement community consultation and reporting back to the community.
  • Learning about Council
    School students from across the Northern Territory can now understand what it feels like to be an elected member of the Darwin City Council. Under the School Civic Visit Program, which was originally created to meet the curriculum requirements of primary schools, students are able to learn about Local Government.
  • Real test for Emergency Management Recovery Plan in Launceston
    It is not often that a plan is tried and tested before it is endorsed by Council, but the Launceston Emergency Management Recovery Plan is certainly one such case. On Christmas Eve, 2001 a freak wind and rain storm carved a trail through a suburb of Launceston leaving some 110 homes damaged and the residents in need of assistance. Launceston had a draft Emergency Management Recovery Plan in place which helped steer Council through the storm and its aftermath.

  • Not another policy!
    Policy Development Framework
    Remarkable as it may seem, even with the thicket of policies that every council works with, or under, a systematic approach to developing policies has rarely been looked at in detail. At Port Phillip Council in Victoria, a framework has been developed to provide a systematic approach to creating policy. Using the framework, even staff who have never developed a policy before were able to go through the process step by step.
  • WA councils to purchase IT collectively
    In a first for Western Australia, several councils are working together to collectively purchase new business systems. The Council Core Business Systems – Group Procurement Project brings a new level of collaboration to IT purchases. Assisted by the peak body for Local Government, the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA), the aim of the project is to buy a new corporate IT system for the Bayswater, Bunbury, Gosnells and Cambridge Councils.
  • Microphone smarts to help councils communicate *
    Prime Minister, John Howard, at the end of his chairing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Coolum in March 2002, where Brahler DIGIMIC microphones with PC control were used by the Australian Government, walked to the Bramshaw control desk and said that it was wonderful to be able to clearly hear all that was said in a conference, as well as easily explaining to the other Heads of State how the system worked.
  • Personal development plan for everyone
    Linking the personal development plans of staff to the broader objectives of a Local Government is no mean feat. To bridge this organisational gap, Adelaide City Council has introduced a personal development plan process that meets the needs of all employees, while improving their understanding of their role and function within the Council.

  • Democracy beyond the Town Hall *
    Whilst Central Government in the UK is committed to a policy of delegating power, as well as responsibility, to the regional/local level, it does not necessarily see Councils as the most appropriate bodies for that devolved power. Ministers appear to be increasingly frustrated with Councils in terms of their local community engagement, accountability and performance. This is evidenced by recent Central Government proposals that have included direct elections to Police Authorities quite separate from Councils and the concept of locally elected Neighbourhood Boards to deal with local issues at a sub Council level.
  • Best Practice consultation in Brisbane
    Community consultation is one of the strongest tests of Local Government and councils are often criticised for not doing enough. When they are consulting with the community, Councils are often accused of going through the motions with the decision being a foregone conclusion. To counter these criticisms, Brisbane’s best practice consultation model has improved organisational performance and service delivery to develop a consistent approach to ensure community expectations are met.
  • Improving business paper processes *
    It seems that everyone is being asked to do more with less these days, so it’s important to keep up with technology improvements. InfoCouncil is a simple improvement that councils can make. It is a contemporary, stable and economical package for managing Local Government business papers. Here’s a snapshot of how it works.