Strategies for the future

Working in partnership with LGANT, during 1994 the Department surveyed all Councils. The aim was to ascertain what the industry identified as key issues facing current and future operations of Local Government in the Territory.

As a result of this survey, the Minister for Local Government, Mick Palmer, recently launched 'Focus For Change: Strategic Planning for Local Government in the Northern Territory'.

This document draws together the issues raised and puts them in context of wider changes impacting on Local Authorities. These include the National Reform Agenda, incorporating the National Competition Policy; technology changes; accountability issues; training needs and reforms taking place in other States.

The document, presented in plain English, is primarily a vehicle for promoting further discussion in respect to reform.

Key issues outlined in the document include the following.

  • Recognition Constitutional recognition and a Memorandum of Understanding with the NT Government.
  • Micro Economic reforms - Performance measures, benchmarking and competitive tendering.
  • Municipal Councils - Dealing with economic and social development on a regional basis and being highly focussed on the needs of their communities.
  • Normalisation of Special Purpose Towns - The transition from mining town to regional centre.
  • Local Area Development - Incorporating social, cultural, economic, physical and environmental planning.
  • Aboriginal Urban Living Areas - Resolving funding and provision of Local Government services to Aboriginal communities within urban areas.
  • Training and Employment Schemes - Including Council personnel and job creation schemes for local communities.
  • Financial Assistance - Addressing the issue of special needs due to the nature of Local Government in the Territory.
  • Accountability - Ensuring staff and elected members meet their obligations and legal responsibilities.
  • Communications - Promoting the sharing of information and networking while breaking down problems of isolation through the introduction of new technology.

The goal is to implement strategies to address these issues over the next three to five years. By improving the quality of leadership and management of communities throughout the Territory, this will help ensure residents receive quality Local Government services wherever they reside.

A key area will be the development of Community Plans. Here Councils will be encouraged to use a participatory process working with their local communities to establish medium and long term goals together with action plans to achieve these.

For further information contact Michael Rennie, Director Local Government Policy and Planning, telephone (08) 8999 5091.