Getting it Together: Working Smarter for Stronger Local Government Graham Sansom UTS Centre for Local Government The opportunity Fiction? Reality? Commonwealth Commonwealth Local State Local UTS Centre for Local Governm State
The vision Local government that: is influential, credible and respected generates community involvement reflects the needs of diverse communities communicates well and establishes partnerships offers accountable, transparent governance attracts high calibre people is financially sustainable UTS Centre for Local Governm The dangers
Lack of strategic direction: Financial weakness Growing competition with the States for resources Increasing State dominance and encroachment A retreat to a narrow role in service delivery Grant dependence leads to agency status Infrastructure problems intensify Many smaller councils become unviable Loss of community confidence and support
Failure to engage effectively with communities Dissatisfaction with inadequate performance Councils seen as irrelevant on issues that matter UTS Centre for Local Governm Asserting a local interest UTS Centre for Local Governm Strengths and weaknesses
Core business and place focus Informed localism and regionalism Larger councils and creative diversity Community support Scattergun wish-lists Financial autonomy Fragmented parochialism Whingers and basket cases Disengaged communities
Mendicant mentality UTS Centre for Local Governm Autonomy or mendicant? Financial strength is fundamental to policy influence Australian LG on average >80% self-sufficient (much better than States) But:
Growth in functions has outstripped revenue: unsustainable Rates have failed to keep pace with State and federal taxes: the $3bn gap Infrastructure backlog severe Problems of rural and remote councils Constant calls for increased grants UTS Centre for Local Governm Bad news from NSW
NSW councils under-fund infrastructure renewal by $400-600m pa: current backlog is $6.3bn Projected backlog by 2020 is $21bn: more than 6 times current annual rates revenue Only 1 in 5 NSW councils have an adequate asset management plan Most NSW councils will continue to run large operating deficits (>8% of own source revenue), even with increased rates and charges 1 in 4 are unsustainable without major policy changes UTS Centre for Local Governm A Fair Share for Responsible Local Government Cost Shifting Inquiry recommended:
Improved financial governance and investigate Australian equivalent of IDeA Infrastructure audits and reduced FAGs in cases of negligent management Assessment of the potential efficiencies of amalgamations and adjustment of FAGs for the benefit of the sector at large Federal response emphasised examination of local governments own revenue sources Proposed Productivity Commission Inquiry UTS Centre for Local Governm Sproats inquiry Review of local government in inner Sydney
Recommended mergers but not primarily for efficiency Key drivers for reform: address revenue and infrastructure problems better strategic planning regional cooperation and whole-of-government approaches experimentation and innovation in service delivery enhancing local governance and leadership UTS Centre for Local Governm UTS: CENTRE FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT Community governance
The process by which we collectively solve our problems and meet our society's needs Government is one of the instruments we use for governance Importance of leadership, partnerships and cooperative planning (associational governance) UTS Centre for Local Governm Management and governance* AREA MANAGEMENT Corporate governance Customers and clients Administration and regulation Public opinion Financial and physical
capital (* Based on Sproats, 1997) + Community engagement + Citizens + Leadership and partnerships + Public judgement + Social capital = LOCAL GOVERNANCE UTS Centre for Local Governm Management and leadership* MANAGEMENT Plans and budgets
Organising and staffing Controlling and problem-solving Minimising risk promotes ORDER and PREDICTABILITY LEADERSHIP Vision and strategy Communicating and aligning Motivating and inspiring Taking risks
promotes CHANGE (* Based on Stace and Dunphy, 1994) UTS Centre for Local Governm Consultation debate Consultation reviews across NSW councils Drivers: Community demands for bigger say and ideas about engagement
Legislative requirements plus voluntary processes generate big workload Information and opinion overload Lack of effective policy frameworks and decisionmaking procedures to make best use of input Councillors feel bypassed need more support in their role Need to explore new techniques (eg residents panels) to reach silent majority UTS Centre for Local Governm Just Communities project Decision-making (political) processes Management frameworks Better local democracy UTS Centre for Local Governm Consultation and
engagement Need for political renewal Is managerialism a dead end?: Time to strengthen the political arm: Community engagement, leadership and a broad well-being agenda are fundamental Blurring of roles is inevitable (Semi) Executive Mayors? Cabinet structures? But equally a need to strengthen political skills:
Partnerships, intergovernment relations Balancing representative and participatory democracy consultation Mutual obligation (accountability with respect) UTS Centre for Local Governm There were meetings I attended as Chief Executive Officer where Councillors, Council employees, community representatives and professional consultants contributed to the discussion with such equal openness, candour and participation, you couldnt tell who was who. Jude Munro UTS Centre for Local Governm The underlying strength of local
government lies in its potential to enrich democracy by enabling the engagement of voters and by demonstrating the responsiveness of public institutions at a time of significant cynicism about representative government. Cheryl Saunders UTS Centre for Local Governm
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