July 2005 Edition

  • Faster document creation with voice recognition technology
    When it comes to speech recognition, Voice Perfect Systems is Australia’s most experienced speech recognition supplier with over 12 years of experience in speech recognition.
  • Tasmania moving from strength to strength
    Tasmanian Premier, Paul Lennon, told delegates at the recent Local Government State Conference that community optimism, confidence and the economy of Tasmania has never been better. Commenting on the conference theme, ‘A breath of fresh air’, the Premier said that this describes State and Local Government relations.
  • Recognising Council high achievers
    At the 2005 Local Government Managers Australia National Congress in Canberra, FOCUS invited delegates to nominate an individual or team from their Council who is improving their Council’s operations and meeting community needs. In this edition, we showcase the first two of our competition winners for 2005.

  • QLD Councils engage with their communities
    From 13–19 June 2005, 108 Queensland Councils hosted community focused events as part of the Local Government Week (LGW), an annual event aimed at creating a better public understanding of the roles and responsibilities of Local Government. The theme for the week was Engaging Communities. Local Government Association of Queensland President, Councillor Paul Bell, believes community engagement is vital to the democratic process and contributes to building a balanced, healthy community.

  • Councillor profiles
    A regular feature, this month we feature a Councillor from the Northern Territory.
  • Sutherland leads the country with water saving initiatives
    With Sydney dam levels at a critical level and residents facing level 3 water restrictions, Sutherland Shire Council is forging ahead with its water conservation policies. Sutherland is the first Local Government in Australia to receive ‘milestone 4’ for its water saving initiatives from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), Cities for Climate Protection (CCP).
  • Bikes roll out in Adelaide
    Adelaide City Council is taking a European approach to run the first Council operated bike hire program in Australia. Available in locations throughout the CBD, users will be able ride free for the first two hours.
  • Bendigo purchasing group
    The Bendigo Manufacturing Group (BMG) recently held a Procurement Strategies Group forum aimed to make purchasing practices cheaper for the local manufacturing sector. More than 40 representatives from the manufacturing sector came together to investigate opportunities to improve their business’s bottom line.
  • BOM bombs west of the Divide
    The Good Oil by Rod Brown*
    Did you realise that the central west and New England regions of New South Wales have virtually no weather radar coverage? This is an appalling state of affairs for farmers and horticulturists in this heartland agricultural belt. There are some important regional centres there too including Parkes, Forbes, Bathurst, Orange, Tamworth and Armidale. So I emailed the Bureau of Meteorology for a ‘please explain’. What a saga! I should’ve known better!
  • President’s comment
    In each edition we feature the views of a Local Government Association President. The following is from Councillor Paul Bell, President of the Local Government Association of Queensland.
  • The Wheel Deal earns gold for Dorset
    A brokerage service that sources transport for young people has taken out the 2005 Tasmanian Local Government Gold Award for Excellence presented at the recent Tasmanian Local Government conference. Dorset Council’s The Wheel Deal youth transport hotline helps young people get where they want to go at a price they can afford.

  • Editorial - Response the Fair Share report welcomed by Local Government
    The long awaited response by the Australian Government to the Fair Share Report was tabled in Federal Parliament on 22 June. With cost shifting to Councils estimated to be between $500 million and $1.1 billion per year, official confirmation by the Federal Government that it will support many of the key recommendations of the Hawker Fair Share Report, particularly an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), has been welcomed by Local Government around the nation.
  • Response to Fair Share report tabled
    The Australian Government’s response to the Hawker Report – “Rates and Taxes: A Fair Share for Responsible Local Government” was released in June.
  • Local Roads Congress highlights ongoing funding shortfalls
    Some 430 delegates from Councils around the nation met recently in Launceston for the 6th National Local Roads Congress. First staged in Moree in 2000, the Roads Congresses have focused attention on the growing gap between the amount of money Councils have to maintain roads compared to what is actually required to reverse their steady decline.

Feature: Finance and Asset Management

  • When art worlds collide
    Two prominent Western Australian artists, each with a distinctive creative style, came together for a unique community art makeover at the City of Gosnells Kenwick Youth Resource Centre. Established in the 1980s, the City’s urban art programme was the first of its kind in Australia.

  • Airlift preserves eco-sensitive Ellis Brook Valley
    Ellis Brook Valley - pardon the pun - is ecotourist heaven in Perth. This very lovely part of the Greater Perth foothills is so ecologically sensitive that when the City of Gosnells developed walk trails in the valley, it used a helicopter to airlift construction material to the site.

  • Students find a ‘sense of place’
    Not all high school students are able or want to go on to tertiary studies. For students who are unlikely to stay at school for Years 11 and 12, the City of Gosnells has an alternative education programme to help those young people find a new path. The Sense of Place programme gives them a chance to explore environmental issues in the metropolitan area with a focus on developing their employment opportunities.

  • Work life balance a crucial issue: imagination, not legislation
    Work life balance (WLB) is a crucial issue for Local Government. City of Gosnells CEO Stuart Jardine says the City’s proactive approach to work life balance has had a significant impact on staff retention rates.
  • Community drives urban revitalisation
    Community driven projects usually focus on a single goal – a new recreation facility, youth centre or a city farm is about as far as they go. That’s why the scope of the Maddington Kenwick Sustainable Communities Partnership is mind boggling. A Community Leadership Network (CLN) has been set up to include and involve the entire community throughout a five year plan to revitalise the City of Gosnells suburbs of Maddington and Kenwick.
  • Staff summit is shaping tomorrow today
    Staff from the City of Gosnells have direct input into shaping the City of the future. The inaugural Staff Summit 2004 launched an annual event that gives all staff members the opportunity to gain an overview of principal activities for the coming year and to provide valuable feedback.
  • Ranger invention lifts workplace safety standards
    The launch of Innovation Week at the City of Gosnells lead to some terrific suggestions from staff to improve performance and customer service. The winning idea from Rangers Services is raising public awareness of the Ranger’s role in the community, demonstrating concern for health and safety and actively showing the City is ‘doggone’ friendly when it comes to concern for animal welfare. The mobile dog catching unit, developed by the City of Gosnells, could benefit Local Governments across Australia. Backed by the City, Rangers Services has created a tray housing transport module that can be fitted to any standard issue Council utility.

  • Innovation gives Town Centre a new identity
    When the City of Gosnells decided to build a new civic facility as part of Gosnells Town Centre Revitalisation scheme, the emphasis was put firmly on community. The City needed a civic complex that would not only meet the needs of today’s community but also the changing needs of future generations.
  • Years of hard work recognised
    Last year’s Local Government acknowledgment of the City of Gosnells was the ultimate reward for years of strategic planning, community consultation, innovative management and above all, sheer hard work. The City received the 2004–2005 Western Australia Local Government Association Best Practice Award and the prestigious 2004–2005 Alcoa Leadership Award.
  • Risk action plan for cypress plantation
    In response to community demand, Victoria’s Hobsons Bay City Council has established a risk action plan for a cypress tree plantation in Sadler Reserve, Williamstown.
  • New look rates notice for South Australian Councils
    Council rates in South Australia could soon have a new look. A model rates notice designed to provide clear information to ratepayers has been prepared and sent to Councils by the Local Government Association.
  • Identifying major asset management issues impacting Local Government
    Many organisations appear to have their view fixed on the rear view mirror and they allocate resources on the basis of past patterns, rather than looking to the future, according to consultant, Jeff Roorda, who addressedthe Municipal Association of Victoria’s recent national Asset Management conference.
  • Special rate levy to improve lake
    Lake Macquarie City Council has received approval from New South Wales Minister for Local Government, Tony Kelly, for a special rate levy over the next three years. This will enable Council to continue its Lake Macquarie Improvement Project.
  • Honesty and transparency is the key
    For the third successive year, Victoria’s Knox Council has taken out a Gold Award for Annual Reporting Excellence at the Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA).
  • Hastings sees multiple benefits in new asset management system
    Hastings Council will reap significant benefits from integrating the new AUTHORITY Asset and Infrastructure Management (AIM) application seamlessly with financials, GIS and work orders, as well as pioneering its innovative use of hand held devices.
  • Engineer shortage
    IPWEA says there are three things Councils can do now!

    It’s official! Civil engineers have been declared an endangered species. Or in officialese “the occupation of civil engineer has been assessed as being in national skill shortage” (www.jobsearch.gov.au). An undersupply of professional engineers is threatening the ability of Local Government and public works to deliver infrastructure and services that the community expects and demands.
  • APS Benefits celebrating 100 years*
    APS Benefits this year will celebrate its centenary and launch a number of new products. After starting as a funeral fund for Melbourne postal workers in 1905, membership of APS Benefits today offers a range of financial services and is open to all people from three levels of government as well as the Defence Force.
  • Integrating the technical with the financial
    Asset Management a key focus at Adelaide conference

    The next big step in asset management will be integrating the technical aspects with long term financial planning in Councils according to Chris Champion, CEO of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA).
  • Adelaide’s sponsorship and grants scheme
    From time to time, all spheres of Government can encounter administrative and political difficulties when providing external funding assistance to community groups. To avoid such problems, Adelaide City Council has developed its Sponsorship and Grants Scheme.
  • Victorian Councils benefit from reduced transaction costs *
    Victorian Councils are receiving reduced transaction rates for using Postbillpay thanks to an agreement between Australia Post and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV). A large number of Councils in Victoria are already benefiting from the MAV’s Postbillpay agreement, which provides Councils with reduced transaction rates and service fees when using Postbillpay.
  • Future directions in asset management
    An interview with Mike Bruty, Assets & Capital Works Manager at Campaspe
  • Learning lessons from modernisation agenda
    The UK Experience by Malcolm Morley*

    Since 1998 there have been more than 20 Central Government policy initiatives designed to modernise and improve performance in English Local Government. Together these initiatives form the Local Government Modernisation Agenda (LGMA).
  • Atherton Tablelands GIS
    Atherton Tablelands Geographic Information System (@GIS), is looking beyond the traditional areas of Local Government for applications to help the community and businesses. Business Operations Manager, Martin Perrins, said @GIS is a joint initiative of Atherton, Eacham and Herberton Shire Councils.
  • Computerised accounting solution for rates
    Recent changes to the financial reporting requirements of Local Government in Western Australia have prompted an innovative response from a chartered accountancy firm. Using both off the shelf accounting software and their own products, a computerised accounting solution has been developed by chartered accountants, UHY Haines Norton, providing a low cost alternative for rural and remote Local Government authorities while delivering a high level of management reporting functionality.