In March, Premiers Bob Carr and Steve Bracks announced that Albury and Wodonga would be merged as the one municipality. This decision resulted from an historic joint meeting of the NSW and Victorian Cabinets marking the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the two states with the Murray River as the border.
In March, when the Carr and Bracks Governments announced the merger of Albury and Wodonga, the Mayors of the two Cities only received one hour of notice. There is some unease in the two communities about both the lack of consultation and local involvement in the decision to create a joint municipality.
Although community consultation is soon to commence in Albury Wodonga, some mending of bridges is already required, as many local people feel that to date they have not been party to the merger decision. Care must be taken so that the merger is not seen as being forced by the two State Governments.
In April, Mayor of Gosnells, Councillor Pat Morris, presented Thornlie Senior High School with a $1,000 marketing sponsorship. The local high school received the sponsorship for a Vocational Education and Training (VET) Programme funded under Council’s Community Sponsorship Programme.
Local Councils involved in providing sport and physical activity opportunities are encouraged to apply for the 2001 Active Australia Awards. The awards, in their fourth year, recognise good practices by organisations involved with Active Australia.
Located 300 kilometres south of Darwin on the busy Stuart Highway tourist route, Katherine’s hot springs are a unique and valuable recreational resource. Attracting tourists and local residents, the hot springs and picturesque Katherine River environs provide a fine example of closed riparian or rainforest vegetation.
Addressing the 21st century – some gems from Armidale - The Good Oil by Rod Brown * Three years ago, Dr Roy Powell from the Centre for Agricultural and Regional Economics in Armidale presented a paper entitled ‘Agriculture and the Economy’ at a conference in Wagga. It provides wise counsel well beyond agriculture – and its contents are quite prophetic. Dr Powell asserted that the ‘New Economic Geography’ explains the dynamics driving the way economies are developing – and they depart from the conditions of a competitive economy.
A paper prepared by Hayden Raysmith for the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) advocates that Local Governments become key delivery agents for the State Government’s Community Building initiatives. The Premier recently announced Community Building as one of the four key priorities of the Victorian Government.
Grass roots concern from businesses and Local Government has seen a marriage between the NSW Local Government and Shires Associations (LGSA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA) to promote a fundamental change in the way we think about regional economic development.
Professor Jean Claude Lugan from the University of Toulouse in France is head of Social Sciences, and since 1977 has been Deputy Mayor of Figeac. As a visiting Professor at Swinburne Institute for Social Research, he recently delivered a paper titled ‘The New face of Local Government in France’.
The modern Commonwealth of nations has moved on a long way from its historical roots. It is reinventing itself as a vigorous cultural, economic and political network, which links 1.7 billion people - around a third of the world’s population. Local Government is finding that these links can form a good basis for cooperation, working through the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), an organisation that represents Local Government in the Commonwealth of nations.
The Federal Government has reinforced its significant commitment to the development of northern Australia with a series of 11 region specific responses to local issues identified during consultations with community representatives.
Harmonising and improving Australia’s various development assessment systems has been a long-term focus for both industry and government. In 1998, representatives from the Commonwealth Government met with State and Local Governments and professionals from the development industry to discuss how this could be achieved. The Development Assessment Forum (DAF) was a key result of that meeting.
The People and Partnerships program aligns itself to Council's Vision, Mission and Values. The program has a simple, clear philosophy that could be applied across a variety of local authorities. While it is acknowledged that no two Councils are the same, there are still a set of common key questions all organisations can ask themselves.
Local Governments now have even more reason to consider CivicView, the Local Government Integrated Software solution from Insight Informatics, with the appointment of Pacific Software as the exclusive marketing, implementation and support organisation for this state of the art system.
The 1 May Competing Fairly Forum was welcomed by the participants at over 60 venues across the nation. The audiences, ranging from less than 10 to 100, took advantage of a satellite hook up to learn the meaning of unconscionable conduct and how to combat it.
A Queensland Council has become the first in the State to win the public sector annual report award. The Pine Rivers Shire Council’s 1999-2000 annual report took out the award at a ceremony at Parliament House in April.
Faced with the danger of Braidwood’s only Bank – Westpac, being lost to the town, Council secured funding of $326,853 to establish a Rural Transaction Centre, incorporating a Westpac In-store, Centrelink services, Medicare Easyclaim and personal, student and business support services.
Since 1997, a Regional Organisation of Councils (ROC) has existed representing the Councils of Burnie, Central Coast, Circular Head, Devonport, Kentish, King Island, Latrobe, Waratah-Wynyard and West Coast. Due to lack of strategic vision within Tasmania’s West North West Councils, a recent review advocated the structure be reassessed to allow for more effective planning, decision making and better resource management.
Penrith City Council in New South Wales and the City of Boroondarra in Victoria are the first Local Government authorities to go live with Technology One’s new integrated Finance One and Proclaim One software solution.
As community expectations of Local Government increase, it is essential for each Council to continuously improve processes and services to communities they serve.The City of Rockingham in Western Australia has recently undertaken an organisational change process, focusing on improved productivity and customer service.
Once again I’m pleased to be in contact with councils across Australia and all those involved in Local Government through the pages of the National Perspective.This edition heralds the search for 2001’s most innovative councils with the launch of the National Awards for Innovation in Local Government.
Is your Council demonstrating Leading Practice? The Federal Government wants to hear from all councils interested in entering the 2001 National Awards for Innovation in Local Government. Councils of all sizes are encouraged to enter the Awards, from large municipalities to remote rural communities.
Recent improvements and 2nd quarterly payment The Federal Government’s $1.2 billion Roads to Recovery Programme is gaining momentum. Recent decisions by the Government to vary the ‘one size fits all’ quarterly payment arrangement and to provide additional funding for unincorporated areas, have also been a boost to many councils and local communities.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission recently conducted a two-day Conference to discuss the draft report into the review of the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 with key stakeholders including Stateand Territory Governments, Local Government Grants Commissions and Local Government Associations attending.
The 1999-2000 National Report on the operation of the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (the National Report) has now been released and incorporates a wide range of detailed information on Local Government in Australia.
The Australian aid programme to South Africa seeks to build the capacity of the public sector and alleviate poverty in the community. As part of this programme, assistance will be provided to strengthen the Local Government system.
Communities from 49 councils and shires in North-West New South Wales and Southern Queensland, inundated in the recent November 2000 floods, have been assisted with a $10 million Federal Government Fund. Access to the Fund has been extended to a further 28 Councils and Shires on the NSW North Coast following the severe flooding in January to March 2001.
The prospect of unravelling the complex web of Ebusiness drew a diverse crowd to a recent national Ebusiness meeting, sponsored by the Department of Transport and Regional Services and held on the 3 and 4 April 2001 in Melbourne. This meeting brought together 45 stakeholders from three spheres of government, Local Government Associations and Development Industry representatives involved in the provision or use of electronic service in Local Government.
In March, the Federal Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Ian Macdonald, announced 38 successful projects under the Local Government Incentive Programme for 2000-2001. The assistance totalled more than $3 million. The priority for the programme this year was to promote best practice and the sharing of technical expertise, community leadership and regional development. Collaborative projects were encouraged.
The Australian Quality Council has recognised Hobart City Council at the International Business Excellence Summit with a national Award for Business Improvement. The award acknowledges the performance of Council when measured against the Business Excellence Framework developed by the Australian Quality Council.
The Local Government Training Package The Local Government industry in Australia has developed the Local Government Training Package over a number of years. The Training Package has been designed to reflect the work functions that people actually perform in Local Councils. It is intensely practical and covers the skills used in a wide range of occupations from Local Government Administration, the Planning and Management of the Physical Environment to ChildCare and Horticulture.
The Best Value regime has placed a duty on Councils in the UK to compare their performance against other Councils. BestValueCommunity.com has taken this one step further by providing Council officers with the opportunity to compare against local authorities throughout the world.
Reducing the cost of training and inducting new recruits In the February issue of LG Focus, Steven Dahl* explored the bottom line benefits of using online cognitive ability testing to recruit the best job applicants. In this issue, Steven looks at how testing can reduce the cost of training and inducting new recruits.