Gearing up for the 'e-age'

Speaking at the annual conference of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), Peter Switzer, Small Business Editor for the Australian, said that it is vital for all organisations to be planning effectively for the 'e-age'.

"People are time poor, they want to do business via the Net," he said. "Your residents want to pay rates, register their dog and make applications using this technology."

He said with rapid developments in this area, the aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to do business using the Internet.

"Being able to switch from your TV, via remote control, to the internet is just around the corner," Peter Switzer said.

"Developing e-relationships is a channel not to be missed for marketing what you are doing."

Staged in October, MAV President, Councillor Brad Matheson, said that the conference provided delegates with a broad political perspective covering State, Federal and Local issues.

"The MAV has had a good year," he said. "Our relationship with the State Government has improved greatly over the past 12 months. There is a much more collaborative approach coming from the Government and Opposition parties. Local Government is definitely back in the decision making loop."

He said that, for the first time since commissioners sat on the MAV Board, the Association is back in the black. Other achievements include having all 78 Victorian Councils involved in developing a strategy that will deliver online purchasing across the State.

"The MAV was also the first signatory to the National Packaging Covenant, and is working in partnership with the Victorian Local Governance Association to achieve recognition of Local Government in the State Constitution," Brad Matheson said.

Federal Assistant Treasurer, Senator Rod Kemp, said that with 13 consecutive quarters of growth, Australia now has one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world. He said that substantial gains have been made in reducing unemployment but much more is still to done.

"We are living through a remarkable period but can't afford to be complacent," Senator Kemp said. "The benefits of growth must be shared."

On the question of reform fatigue, the Senator said that, to deliver real benefits, Australia must have a growing, more productive economy.

"This Government is strongly committed to reform," he said. "We are a consultative government. There will always be areas of debate but we can give as good as what is thrown at us."

Federal Shadow Treasurer and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, said the way forward is to find a more efficient means to spread the benefits of growth.

"We need a 'whole of governments approach', all three levels working to achieve a common agenda," he said.

"This Government believes it needs to get it right at the national level and then rely on a trickle down approach.

"Our approach is the opposite. We believe in empowering local communities, in a bottom up rather than top down approach.

"Governments need to be adequately resourcing programs to get local people and ideas going."