Visionary leadership for all Australians

The Congress was officially opened by IMM's patron the Governor General, Sir William Deane. "At a time when Local Government is undergoing rapid change, the significance of Local Government in the life of our nation and its citizens is in no way diminishing with over 700 Councils, two percent of the national workforce and $11 billion spent annually," Sir William said.

With the demand for services by the community continuing to grow, he said that the pressure is on costs and the need to do more with less, through initiatives such as benchmarking and resource sharing.

The Governor General said this demands leadership as well as management skills, that the Congress theme 'visions for communities' invites us to look up for a moment from immediate problem solving, to look also at what might be.

"You must be not only intelligent but imaginative and visionary," he said. Pointing to the results of visionary architect, Walter Burley Griffin, he said what better place to do this than in Canberra.

"Many of Griffin's ideas, initially seen as too advanced and visionary, are now widely accepted in town planning," Sir William said. He also called on those present, that in carrying visionary planning and community leadership, to recommit themselves to the ideal of a tolerant, multicultural Australia.

"Post second world war, people from over 140 different nations have arrived and made an extraordinary contribution to Australia's rich multicultural fibre," he said. "When some Australians are now feeling threatened by ugly bigotry and intolerance, it is vital for those in power and authority to protect and respect the rights of all Australians, where each citizen is guaranteed full equality and protection from discrimination."

He called on Local Government, as the sphere of Government closest to the people, to recognise this issue as one of great importance to all of us.