December 1997 Edition

  • NT Govt usurps local democracy

    On 14 November, the Treasurer of the Northern Territory Government, Mike Reed, and Minister for Local Government, Tim Baldwin, informed Yulara Town Council it would be dissolved. This is not merely a case of another sphere of government dismissing an elected Council for a period of time. Yulara residents have been told that they no longer have any need for a third sphere of government or local democracy.
  • Editorial

    Being a large nation with a small population, the tyranny of distance has always been a handicap, but rapid development of telecommunications and information technology is fast bridging the gaps. Australia is one of the front running nations in the development of information technology, and in particular the Internet. In setting up our FOCUS Web site in 1996, we believed this was an excellent way to assist Councils across Australia to share ideas and keep up to date with key issues. We were also keen to provide a link for Councils around the world to share their ideas and successes, as well as view what Australian Councils are doing. During November, we launched FOCUS Forum. This increases the interactive capacity of our site enabling people with an interest in Local Government to directly exchange ideas, pose questions or engage in debate on policies, issues or events Online.
  • National award for skate park

    Maroochy Shire Council in Queensland recently won the National Healthy Hearts Award for the best Outdoor Recreation Facility in Australia.
  • First Aus President for IULA-ASPAC

    Councillor Peter Woods has been elected President of the Asia-Pacific region of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA-ASPAC), Local Government's peak worldwide body. Elected recently at the IULA Executive meeting in Tokyo, Peter is the first non-Asian elected to this position.
  • Victor Harbor - jewel of the south

    Like many coastal areas, the District Council of Victor Harbor in South Australia manages a municipality with a 'split personality'. While for much of the year the district's 10,000 permanent citizens live a relatively quiet life, the advent of the tourist season in the warmer months of the year can see the population increase four fold.
  • Reconciling past racism

    A move of reconciliation with non Indigenous victims of past racist actions has been supported by various Councils across Australia. Last year, Young Shire Council voted unanimously to establish the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Gardens 'in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese people to the settlement of Young in the 1860s and to the ongoing contributions of the Chinese community to Australia as a nation'.
  • Reader Survey - what you had to say

    Our 1997 Reader Survey was included as an insert in the October edition. Respondents were asked how often they read FOCUS, how they rated the publication, what they liked about it and what they would like to see changed. This analysis covers respondents who receive the Gold edition, from South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory.
  • Preparation and legislation the key to corporatisation

    Before Councils rush to corporatise their workforce in preparation for National Competition Policy, they should be aware of the potential pitfalls. In the absence of specialist legislation to enable corporatisation, Leyon believes Councils can run into many legal, political and administrative complications. Many of these arise from the lack of autonomy Local Government works under. This compromises the ability of Council business units to effectively compete.

  • Improve your planning with CDATA96

    Once every five years the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts a Census of Population and Housing. The Census is a snapshot of the nation on Census night. This data forms a vital information source for organisations who make important planning decisions throughout Australia.
  • Gosnells' efficiency drive

    The City of Gosnells in Western Australia is setting itself ambitious targets in terms of improving the efficiency of Council's operations. In June of this year, the organisation was restructured along commercial lines. This included a new management team brought in to improve efficiency and ensure the provision of best value services.
  • Councils share bonus from sound investment

    Once again Councils in South Australia are set to benefit from their investment in the South Australian Local Government Finance Authority (LGFA). This year the LGFA paid a $1 million bonus to member Councils from a $4.1 million before tax profit.
  • Port Phillip Council improves efficieny with new financials*

    Following the City of Port Phillip's amalgamation in 1995, a key strategy for the new Council was to start with a sound IT infrastructure. Council decided to replace its old system with an integrated Financial Management Systems (FMIS) and workflow from Computron Software.
  • Infopack assists development

    An 'Infopack' developed by the Town of Albany in Western Australia has not only streamlined Council operations but brought time and cost savings for clients. Comprising a series of brochures, it is designed to assist people with subdivisions, health ventilation requirements and septic tank specifications.
  • Achieving maximum efficiency

    A major problem facing Councils is the number of places where information can be stored. Work may often be duplicated, and accessing and distributing relevant material can be time consuming resulting in out of date information. Furthermore, security may be compromised. With a document management system like Advanced Document and Administration Manager (ADAM), all Council's important documents and files can be stored securely in one place, making it quick and easy for authorised users to find information.
  • Call for entries now on for 48th Annual Report Awards

    More and more, Australia is leading the world in quality annual reporting with some of this country's reports rivalling the best in the world. Driving the surge in quality annual reporting in Australia and, increasingly, New Zealand has been the prestigious Annual Report Awards (ARA). Now in their 48th year, the Awards have established a benchmark for excellence in annual reporting that has been accepted by some of the country's largest publicly listed companies as well as many government and not for profit enterprises. 
  • Customer service award for Redland

    In competition with some of Australia's major companies, Redland Shire has been named Queensland winner of the Australian Customer Service Association Awards. Demonstrating that Local Government can be as efficient and responsive to customer needs as the private sector, Redland outdid companies including David Jones and Pacific Dunlop to take this award.
  • Leadership and vision rewarded

    Tony Lawson, City Manager at the City of Mitcham and Bob Fidock, General Manager of Corporate Services at the City of Adelaide, have been honoured as the joint winners of the 1997 Graeme Dimond Memorial Award. The South Australian Award recognising service to Local Government, is granted on the basis of the recipient's leadership, ability, ethics and vision.
  • Expediting infringement payments

    Xpedite has announced the release of a next generation Penalty Control System (PCS). PCS has been developed in conjunction with users to assist Councils and other enforcement agencies manage parking, litter, animal and local law infringements.
  • Community democracy

    In his President's Address, John Campbell also welcomed numerous international visitors, acknowledging the importance of community to community relationships in the global economy.
  • Celebrating our future

    In officially opening the 4th National General Assembly of Australian Local Government, Governor General, Sir William Deane, congratulated the Australian Local Government Association on its Golden Jubilee. With an annual budget in excess of $10 billion and employing 150,000 people, the Governor General said that Local Government is certainly big business.
  • LG where democracy is born

    Local Government is the most accessible democratic institution we have, said Moira Rayner. Ordinary people find it quite easy to participate, not just by voting Councillors in and out of office, but by influencing their decisions between elections. Fewer voters mean more impact, a Local Government representative is likely to be more sensitive to citizens' views.
  • Declaration on the Role of Australian Local Government

    We elected members of Australian Local Governments gathered at the 1997 National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra on 24 November 1997; recalling the Worldwide Declaration of Local Self-Government renewed by the International Union of Local Authorities in Toronto in June 1993; now proclaim the following Declaration on the Role of Local Government as a standard to which all Australian governments should aspire in their efforts to achieve a more effective democratic process and secure the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of their constituents.
  • Recognising Native Title

    While across Lake Burley Griffin the debate on Native Title was charting a rocky course, ALGA delegates at the National Convention Centre got down to the business of coming to grips with the reality of Native Title and how to make it work for a better and just society for all Australians.
  • What the politicians said

    A snapshop of comments made by Federal Politicians during the Assembly.
  • Olympic campaign goes national

    Following endorsement at the General Assembly, Councils across Australia have been invited to join a major fundraising initiative that will assist our Australian Olympic Team to prepare for Sydney 2000 Games. A totally voluntary initiative, Councils participating simply encourage their residents to contribute 50 cents each year for the next three years, or make a one off $1.50 payment.

  • Corporatisation what it means

    With many Victorian Councils seeting up business units as part of the Compulsory Competitive Tendering process, the question has been raised should the next step be taken - to corporatise? This was the theme selected for a recent seminar.
  • First Aus President for IULA-ASPAC

    Councillor Peter Woods has been elected President of the Asia-Pacific region of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA-ASPAC), Local Government's peak worldwide body. Elected recently at the IULA Executive meeting in Tokyo, Peter is the first non-Asian elected to this position.
  • Editorial

    Being a large nation with a small population, the tyranny of distance has always been a handicap, but rapid development of telecommunications and information technology is fast bridging the gaps. Australia is one of the front running nations in the development of information technology, and in particular the Internet. In setting up our FOCUS Web site in 1996, we believed this was an excellent way to assist Councils across Australia to share ideas and keep up to date with key issues. We were also keen to provide a link for Councils around the world to share their ideas and successes, as well as view what Australian Councils are doing. During November, we launched FOCUS Forum. This increases the interactive capacity of our site enabling people with an interest in Local Government to directly exchange ideas, pose questions or engage in debate on policies, issues or events Online.
  • Preparation and legislation the key to corporatisation

    Before Councils rush to corporatise their workforce in preparation for National Competition Policy, they should be aware of the potential pitfalls. In the absence of specialist legislation to enable corporatisation, Leyon believes Councils can run into many legal, political and administrative complications. Many of these arise from the lack of autonomy Local Government works under. This compromises the ability of Council business units to effectively compete.
  • Councils feature in National Planning Awards

    Both Brisbane and Melbourne City Councils are among the winners in the recent Royal Australian Planning Institute (RAPI) National Awards. These prestigious annual awards recognise excellence in Planning.
  • Meander Valley GM is Tasmania's top boss

    General Manager of Meander Valley Council in Tasmania, Geoff Fellows has struck a blow for Local Government, winning the 1997 Tasmanian Boss of the Year Award. Geoff was nominated for the annual award, presented by the Secretaries and Administrators Association, by Personal Assistant Leanne Harrison.
  • Sister city visit brings benefits to Swan Hill

    Victoria's Rural City of Swan Hill has raised its international profile and opened up increased trade opportunities following a visit by Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Bill and Mrs Lesley Maher, to its sister city, Yamagata in Japan.
  • Wyong and Warren win 1997 Bluett Awards

    The 1997 prestigious Bluett Awards, the most valued prize in Local Government in NSW have been taken out by Wyong and Warren Councils. The Awards honour Councils that have achieved the greatest relative progress during the previous financial year.
  • Reader Survey - what you had to say

    Our 1997 Reader Survey was included as an insert in the October edition. Respondents were asked how often they read FOCUS, how they rated the publication, what they liked about it and what they would like to see changed. A total of 81% of respondents said they regularly read FOCUS, with 17% reading it sometimes. Respondents rating the publication as 'Good' or 'Excellent' ranged between 76 and 84%.

  • 'Community' is the customer

    The implementation of Customer Service Charters needs further consideration of two important issues. In the areas of amenity, public health and safety, the questions of what constitutes the service and exactly who are the customers have not been fully examined.
  • Improve your planning with CDATA96

    Once every five years the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts a Census of Population and Housing. The Census is a snapshot of the nation on Census night. This data forms a vital information source for organisations who make important planning decisions throughout Australia.
  • Port Phillip Counci limproves efficieny with new financials*

    Following the City of Port Phillip's amalgamation in 1995, a key strategy for the new Council was to start with a sound IT infrastructure. Council decided to replace its old system with an integrated Financial Management Systems (FMIS) and workflow from Computron Software.
  • Councils demonstrate value for money

    It is probably only human nature, but unfortunately for Councils, ratepayers tend to be quick to spot rate rises but slow to recognise the benefits their rates bring. To foster better communication about their activities, this year Parramatta City Council in NSW sent ratepayers five pages of details about Council expenditure with rate notices.
  • Cost effective training &endash; building inhouse expertise

    For training to be cost effective it must impart skills, knowledge and behaviours that become part of the long term culture of the organisation. A one day or even one week program has little capacity to permanently affect staff behaviour and attitudes. An effective solution is to train inhouse trainers to have responsibility for maintaining the focus of the organisation on new approaches to their work.
  • Achieving maximum efficiency

    A major problem facing Councils is the number of places where information can be stored. Work may often be duplicated, and accessing and distributing relevant material can be time consuming resulting in out of date information. Furthermore, security may be compromised. With a document management system like Advanced Document and Administration Manager (ADAM), all Council's important documents and files can be stored securely in one place, making it quick and easy for authorised users to find information.
  • Bad contractors or bad contracts

    In assessing the quality of the service, there is a tendency to blame contractors for poor outcomes. However, this may be unfair. The issue arises as to whether the contractor is to blame or whether the contract itself was inadequate.
  • Expediting infringement payments

    Xpedite has announced the release of a next generation Penalty Control System (PCS). PCS has been developed in conjunction with users to assist Councils and other enforcement agencies manage parking, litter, animal and local law infringements.
  • Fleet safety

    A landmark study, 'Fleetsafe', conducted by the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) is set to change the culture of vehicle management in the region.
  • Call for entries now on for 48th Annual Report Awards

    More and more, Australia is leading the world in quality annual reporting with some of this country's reports rivalling the best in the world. Driving the surge in quality annual reporting in Australia and, increasingly, New Zealand has been the prestigious Annual Report Awards (ARA). Now in their 48th year, the Awards have established a benchmark for excellence in annual reporting that has been accepted by some of the country's largest publicly listed companies as well as many government and not for profit enterprises. 
  • AMCORD wins another excellence for planning award

    The Australian Model Code for Residential Development, AMCORD, has won a Certificate of Merit at the Royal Australian Planning Institute's (RAPI) 1997 National Awards for Planning Excellence in Adelaide. AMCORD qualified for the National Awards after receiving the RAPI South Australian Division Award in 1996. Winning this prestigious planning award is further recognition of AMCORD's success as a manual of best practice in integrated performance based residential development.
  • Welcome from the new Minister

    I would like to welcome readers to this, the second issue of A National Perspective, and my first as the new Federal Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government. As member for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, the role of Local Government and the development of regional and rural Australia is very important to me. I share with Local Government an interest in making Australia a better place in which to live and do business, and I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to work towards achieving this goal.
  • Thredbo Community Hall

    The Snowy Mountains village of Thredbo has received nearly $250,000 to help build a new Community Hall which will serve as a memorial to those who were lost in the landslide of 30 July this year.
  • SBDC paves the way for legislative review for LGs

    The Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) is a statutory authority in Western Australia with a mission to create opportunity and wealth for small to medium-sized businesses in that State. The core activities of the Corporation consist of business, information and management education services.
  • Commonwealth funding for structural reform

    The Commonwealth is providing over $1 million under the Local Government Development Program (LGDP) to foster structural reform of councils. Structural reform includes cooperative service provision, major resource sharing initiatives, joint service delivery enterprises, boundary change and amalgamations.
  • Benchmarking Projects

    The Commonwealth has funded a number of council-led benchmarking projects under the Local Government Development Program (LGDP). It has agreed to fund Cessnock City Council, Singleton Shire Council and Wyong Shire Council to benchmark open space and recreation and roads maintenance. Funding of $50,000 has also been provided for benchmarking to a group of seven Western Australian councils. The group, which includes Narrogin, Merredin, Northam, Donnybrook-Balingup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Plantagenet councils, will focus initially on waste management, administration and governance costs, recreation and culture.
  • Northern Territory Performance Indicator and Benchmarking Seminar

    There has been significant advancement on the development of performance indicators over the last four months, with extensive consultations having occurred with the local government industry. These consultations culminated in the organisation of a successful Performance Indicator and Benchmarking Seminar which attracted 14 of the Territory's largest councils.
  • Local Government Workplace Reform Project

    The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW is funded under the Local Government Development Program (LGDP) to undertake the Local Government Workplace Reform Project. This project aims to increase the pace of workplace reform across Local Government in NSW to make real improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of Local Government operations.
  • Urban Futures

    Issue 22 of the Urban Futures journal was very well received. Issue 23 is now available. This extremely interesting issue features several articles and a book review relating to the theme of 'community' and social belonging.
  • Local Government National Report

    The second Local Government National Report will be available in December 1997. The Report relates to the 1996-97 financial year, a year in which the Commonwealth provided $1.2 billion in untied financial assistance grants to local government.
  • Natural Heritage Trust - Coasts and Clean Seas

    Coasts and Clean Seas is a major component of the Commonwealth Government's Natural Heritage Trust. It is designed to help tackle coastal and marine pollution problems, threats to marine biodiversity and habitat degradation, and to promote sustainable use of Australia's coastal and marine areas, including estuarine areas.