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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27755" align="alignnone" width="287"] 
Cr Jennifer Alden, Craig Lloyd and Cr Andrea Metcalf (L-R).[/caption] Recent audits of local waste and recycling bins have shown that Greater Bendigo residents are still sending significant amounts of recyclables straight to landfill by placing many items that could be recycled into their waste bins. In an effort to improve recycling rates, the City of Greater Bendigo has launched a new community education Sort it out before you throw it out! advertising campaign. The campaign will provide useful information about the items that residents are currently not recycling to make them aware that they can. It will utilise television, radio, print, social media and signage to encourage residents to think about and improve the way they sort their waste, organics and recycling. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets director Craig Lloyd said the City’s recent waste bin audits showed that 40% of the contents of local waste bins should have been placed in the recycling bin while 22 per cent could have gone in the organics bin. “The audit is backed up by State Government figures that place Greater Bendigo in the bottom 50 per cent of Victoria’s 79 local government areas for waste resource recovery,” said Mr Lloyd. “Unfortunately, many Greater Bendigo residents are still placing recyclables such as paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cans, plastics and organic garden and food waste in their red lid waste bin. “Objects that can be recycled are a valuable resource and the cost of sending waste to landfill will continue to rise so the more we recycle and the less we send to landfill the better. “Greater Bendigo wants to become one of, if not the best, local government area for resource recovery in the future. “Many people may be surprised to learn that Greater Bendigo residents are not very good at recycling and we want to see this change for the better in the near future.” Results from the audit:-
  • The average residential red lid waste bin contains 40% recyclable items, 22% organics and 38% actual waste.
  • The recyclable materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.
  • The organic materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly grass clippings and leaves, general food waste and food in packaging.
  • The average residential recycling bin contains 9% contamination. This is comprised of 5.3% general waste and 3.7% of materials such as clothing, crockery and scrap metal that cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling collection.
  • The average organics bin contains 2% contamination. This is comprised of 1% general waste and 1% recyclables such as glass, plastics and metals.
  [post_title] => Recycling audit hopes to educate [post_excerpt] => City of Greater Bendigo has launched a community recycling education campaign. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => recycling-audit-hopes-educate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-03 08:55:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27754 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27685 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-24 20:05:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-24 10:05:44 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27686" align="alignnone" width="300"] This box is filled with 200,000 cigarette butts displayed to highlight the impact that littering has on streets and waterways.[/caption] The City of Melbourne has become one of only two councils in Australia to run a citywide initiative to recycle millions of cigarette butts into industrial products. “We collect more than 200,000 cigarette butts each week from 367 cigarette butt bins across the city: litter that may otherwise end up being washed down drains and into the Yarra River,” Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC said. “Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and break down slowly. As part of this project, we will recycle binned cigarette butts into practical items such as shipping pallets and plastic furniture. “We have collected 1.2 million butts from around Melbourne’s universities and hospitals and busy CBD locations that can be recycled.” The City of Melbourne has partnered with Enviropoles, which collects the cigarette waste, and TerraCycle, which converts the butts into plastic products. The project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Litter Hotspots program. Studies have shown that of the four disposal routes (recycling, litter, landfill, and incineration), recycling the cigarette butts has the lowest global warming impact. The City of Melbourne has placed a perspex box filled with 200,000 cigarette butts on the banks of the Yarra River to highlight the impact that littering has on the city’s streets and waterways. Chairwoman of the City of Melbourne’s Environment portfolio Councillor Cathy Oke said the project has been completed in Vancouver and New Orleans before, but Melbourne is leading the charge in Victoria to tackle recycling cigarette waste. “Cities around the world are looking for new ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, and Melbourne is leading the way,” Cr Oke said “Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia. Butts are commonly mistaken for food by marine life and have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures.” The Perspex box full of cigarette butts was placed in Queensbridge Square, where three solar compaction litter bins are located. Cr Oke said the City of Melbourne is installing more than 360 smart bins in the CBD following a successful trial of 17 bins last year. “We collect around nine million butts in our litter bins every year. We hope this project will motivate smokers to place their cigarette butts in one of the butt bins located around the CBD.” Previous surveys have found that around 10,500 cigarette butts from the central city are being deposited on the ground every day. The City of Melbourne spends approximately $13 million on waste services each year (collection and disposal).   [post_title] => Butts into better things [post_excerpt] => Melbourne is recycling cigarette butts into plastic industrial products. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => we-want-your-butt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-25 12:21:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-25 02:21:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27685 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27533 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-03 20:36:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-03 10:36:04 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27538" align="alignnone" width="287"] Geelong’s relatively high creative industries score, coupled with a robust rate of business entries, provides a solid foundation for steady growth. Photo by paulrommer from www.shutterstock.com.[/caption] Leonie Pearson, University of Canberra Investing in regional cities’ economic performance makes good sense. Contrary to popular opinion, new research shows regional cities generate national economic growth and jobs at the same rate as big metropolitan cities. They are worthy of economic investment in their own right – not just on social and equity grounds. However, for regional cities to capture their potential A$378 billion output to 2031, immediate action is needed. Success will see regional cities in 2031 produce twice as much as all the new economy industries produce in today’s metropolitan cities. Drawing on lessons from the UK, the collaborative work by the Regional Australia Institute and the UK Centre for Cities spotlights criteria and data all Australian cities can use to help get themselves investment-ready.

Build on individual strengths

The Regional Australia Institute’s latest work confirms that city population size does not determine economic performance. There is no significant statistical difference between the economic performance of Australia’s big five metro cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) and its 31 regional cities in historical output, productivity and participation rates. So, regional cities are as well positioned to create investment returns as their big five metro cousins. The same rules apply – investment that builds on existing city strengths and capabilities will produce returns. No two cities have the same strengths and capabilities. However, regional cities do fall into four economic performance groups – gaining, expanding, slipping, and slow and steady. This helps define the investment focus they might require. For example, the report finds Fraser Coast (Hervey Bay), Sunshine Coast-Noosa and Gold Coast are gaining cities. Their progress is fuelled by high population growth rates (around 2.7% annually from 2001 to 2013). But stimulating local businesses will deliver big job growth opportunities.
Rapid population growth is driving the Gold Coast economy, making it a ‘gaining’ city. Pawel Papis from www.shutterstock.com
Similarly, the expanding cities of Cairns, Central Coast and Toowoomba are forecast to have annual output growth of 3.2% to 3.9% until 2031, building on strong foundations of business entries. But they need to create more high-income jobs. Geelong and Ballarat have low annual population growth rates of around 1.2% to 1.5%. They are classified as slow and steady cities. But their relatively high creative industries scores, coupled with robust rates of business entries, means they have great foundations for growth. They need to stimulate local businesses to deliver city growth.

Get ready to deal

Regional cities remain great places to live. They often score more highly than larger cities on measures of wellbeing and social connection. But if there’s no shared vision, or local leaders can’t get along well enough to back a shared set of priorities, or debate is dominated by opinion in spite of evidence, local politics may win the day. Negotiations to secure substantial city investment will then likely fail. The federal government’s Smart Cities Plan has identified City Deals as the vehicle for investment in regional cities. This collaborative, cross-portfolio, cross-jurisdictional investment mechanism needs all players working together (federal, state and local government), along with community, university and private sector partners. This leaves no place for dominant single interests at the table. Clearly, the most organised regional cities ready to deal are those capable of getting collaborative regional leadership and strategic planning. For example, the G21 region in Victoria (including Greater Geelong, Queenscliffe, Surf Coast, Colac Otway and Golden Plains) has well-established credentials in this area. This has enabled the region to move quickly on City Deal negotiations.

Moving past talk to be investment-ready

There’s $378 billion on the table, but Australia’s capacity to harness it will depend on achieving two key goals.
  • First, shifting the entrenched view that the smart money invests only in our big metro cities. This is wrong. Regional cities are just as well positioned to create investment returns as the big five metro centres.
  • Second, regions need to get “investment-ready” for success. This means they need to be able to collaborate well enough to develop an informed set of shared priorities for investment, supported by evidence and linked to a clear growth strategy that builds on existing economic strengths and capabilities. They need to demonstrate their capacity to deliver.
While there has been much conjecture on the relevance and appropriateness of City Deals in Australia, it is mainly focused on big cities. But both big and small cities drive our national growth.
The ConversationYou can explore the data and compare the 31 regional cities using the RAI’s interactive data visualisation tool. Leonie Pearson, Adjunct Associate, University of Canberra This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Bust the regional city myths and look beyond the 'big 5' for a $378b return [post_excerpt] => Investing in regional cities’ economic performance makes good sense, writes Leonie Pearson. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27533 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-04 11:08:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-04 01:08:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27533 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26741 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-03 17:31:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-03 07:31:44 [post_content] =>       More research needs to be done to reveal whether going into the public sector for altruistic reasons can lead to extra pressure, stress and eventual burn out, or whether it actually increases job satisfaction and productivity, says a recent academic paper. Researchers from Federation University and Newcastle University interviewed 455 local council workers in Victoria to find out their levels of public sector motivation (PSM) and whether this affected their levels of job satisfaction negatively or positively.  Although there is not one concrete definition, PSM has been loosely defined as wanting to contribute to society/community and to the public policy process and it is often considered to go hand in hand with commitment, compassion and self-sacrifice, an attitude seen as different to the prevailing in the private sector.  In the past, theorists have tended to focus on the positive side of PSM and its possible role in enhancing performance, reducing absenteeism and boosting staff retention. There is also an argument that high levels of PSM make employees more concerned about public service and duty and relatively less concerned about higher pay and shorter working hours.  But the report, Testing an International Measure of Public Service Motivation: Is There Really a Bright or Dark Side? says attention is now being increasingly paid to the ‘dark side’ of PSM and its possible effects, including burnout, which can be characterised by diminished interest, cynicism, or de-personalisation at work.  “High levels of PSM have, for example, been linked to lower job satisfaction due to frustrations with red tape, as well as increased pressure and stress, which in turn may result in employee burnout,” said the report.  “Indeed, motivation to serve the community through public service work may result in negative effects where employees self-sacrifice to a level that it depletes their well-being.”  So PSM can variously act as protection from burnout but too much of it could hasten exhaustion, “PSM may also possess a dark side. The notion of public service has taken on even greater importance in today’s customer-oriented public sector with ever increasing demands for quicker response time.”  However, researchers from Federation University and the University of Newcastle said they were unable to find any meaningful connection between PSM, job satisfaction and behaviour but add: “This may suggest an opportunity for public sector managers to leverage PSM to harness the beneficial outcomes commonly associated with PSM.” Why does it matter?  Well, if PSM is found to have a positive influence on behaviour and cause people to work harder, not ring in sick and refrain from jumping ship then nurturing it becomes of the utmost importance. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­The report says: “For example, the level of PSM among employees can be increased through a variety of mechanisms such as attraction, selection, design of job packages and also managers can do more to avoid PSM being crowded out by the use of incentives and command systems.  “Further, transformational leadership can be used by managers in organisations without severe value conflicts to increase individual levels of PSM, which in turn should increase performance. This may be achieved through socialisation, greater mission valance as well as via managers and supervisors and through communication style (Waterhouse et al. 2014).”  Conversely, if high levels of PSM leave an employee more vulnerable to stress, emotional exhaustion and burnout, particularly when combined with budget cuts, bureaucracy and pressure to work more quickly, then aversive action should be taken.  Such conditions can also turn people off working in the sector. A recent Government News story explored how Gen Y’s are avoiding local government as a career. an public sector workers in Victoria,” and says this could be because public sector conditions are generally good in Australia.  This is contrasted with China, where government workers described inferior conditions to the private sector, and those with higher PSM reported higher mental well-being but lower physical well-being than those with lower PSM.  Researchers suggest replicating the study in other states and across all three tiers of government with a larger sample and carrying out in-depth interviews with public servants to find out what being public sector motivated means to them.  “Therefore, to create understanding and better outcomes for deliverers and users of public services, we advocate broader investigation into the bright and dark sides of PSM and factors that can moderate and mediate such relationships.”  The study was published in the Australian Journal of Public Administration and written by Julie Rayner and Vaughan Reimers from the Federation University and Chih-Wei (Fred) Chao from Newcastle University. [post_title] => Public sector motivation: Have we turned to the dark side? [post_excerpt] => Burnout or crash through. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26741 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 11:03:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 01:03:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26741 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26709 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-31 11:06:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:06:38 [post_content] => Manchester city centre, UK.     Three Australian cities will replicate a UK initiative designed to deliver economic growth, affordable housing and new infrastructure while devolve decisions away from federal government towards state and local government. City Deals is a UK initiative which began in 2012 with eight deals for cities outside London, including Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and Leeds and covering a population of 12.7 million. They have now been introduced across 38 UK city-regions. Under City Deals, state government and local councils decide what needs to be done to lift economic growth locally and they set targets in areas such as jobs, affordable housing and emissions reduction. The deals also include the regional areas around cities. The scheme emphasises building infrastructure and aims to deliver long-term benefits, such as higher land values, bigger tax receipts, more jobs and increased productivity. In the UK, most contracts are for ten years and funding often comes from all three levels of government. Local councils’ contributions tend to be lower than that from the other tiers of government, around 10 to 20 per cent, and often includes contributions in kind, such as land transfers and council officers’ time. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is known to be a fan of City Deals for Australia and he has committed to early deals for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney. The process for future deals will be announced later. The Launceston City Deal, signed in September last year, promises to support education, employment and investment and this will include a new university campus in the city centre; revitalising the historic CBD and a new National Institute for Forest Products Innovation Hub. Under the Launceston deal, $140 million comes from the federal government and $60 million from the Tasmanian government. The Western Sydney City Deal, which includes the local government areas of the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly, seems to have a pretty broad remit. It will focus on public transport, employment and investment (particularly youth and indigenous employment); more affordable housing by boosting supply and diversity; biodiversity and conservation and arts and culture. There is no mention of who is paying what under the Western Sydney deal, which is up on the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s website. To find out more about the UK experience and what it could mean for Australia, Government News caught up with Scottish urban economist and affordable housing specialist Professor Duncan MacLennan, who has been involved with the Glasgow City Deal. What City Deals can do  But first, let’s start off with what City Deals could do for Australia. Prof MacLennan explains that cities are ‘core areas driving national productivity’ and he says City Deals have been valuable because they have placed infrastructure at the centre of city thinking and coherent investment strategies.   While cities drive growth, the income and tax receipts from this goes mainly to state or federate government - there is a disproportionate flow back - while cities are stuck with the problems stemming from growth, like congestion, pollution and a shortage of affordable housing. Indeed, Prof MacLennan says there is some evidence to suggest that some skilled workers are fleeing cities, fed up with long commutes and expensive housing. City Deals attempt to reverse this situation by channelling some of the money back into city-regional areas. Prof MacLennan says: “In the absence of changing the fiscal system, it’s a reasonably appropriate mechanism for getting money where it needs to be. “The main benefit to City Deals is the new focus on infrastructure [that has] raised local capacity to deal with it and more coherent investment strategies.” What they the deals don’t do, he says, is lead to a better system of sub-national government because they are uneven in their impact. In the UK, the deals are not open to everyone and they have not been rolled out evenly. Since City Deals began, Prof MacLennan says that metropolitan authorities have strengthened their capacity to do big infrastructure planning and they have got much better at making the economic case for infrastructure investment. “Big City Deals now know much more about infrastructure planning and how to do it well than central government,” he says. “There is work being done that wasn’t being done three or four years’ ago.” This point was picked up in the UK National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on the first wave of eight City Deals, calling them a ‘catalyst to manage devolved funding and responsibilities’. The report also commended the deals for cutting through funding complexities and giving cities direct access to central government decision makers, which in turn helped them secure funding and support from other government departments. “This helped cities agree deals aligned to their ambitions and local priorities,” said the NAO’s report. But the process is not without its problems. Resources, as ever, have not been there to help cities build their capacity locally. Local government was expected to pool its resources and given no funding to support additional management capacity. This can lead to skills shortages, for example in forecasting and modelling. “It is not clear, however, whether this approach is sustainable in the context of wider reductions in the government’s funding for local authorities. Departments’’ resource constraints have impacted on the government’s capacity to make bespoke, wide-ranging deals with more places,” The NAO noted. Other criticisms of the UK model have included the inherent difficulty of uneven power relations between the three levels of government; the centralised control exerted when deals are negotiated; the lack of transparency around the criteria for cities to be selected for a new; vagueness around the aims, monitoring and evaluation of some City Deals and extra pressure on the already highly constrained budgets of local councils. Another downside of the City Deals, says Prof MacLennan, is raising expectations. “People think this is going to solve all their problems and don’t pay attention to other programs that are reducing and changing.” It can also open up gaps between the haves and the have nots: those areas which have City Deals and those that do not. Prof MacLennan says: “The differences may become so great that the government may have to come in and think about what it does for lagging cities.” But the neediest areas are often those where councils that may not have the organisation or the skilled workforce to make their case for a City Deal. Recommendations for Australian City Deals Good economic modelling is important from the get go, says Prof MacLennan, because it helps predict how infrastructure investment decisions affect the behaviour of individual households and businesses over several years. This can involve leveraging expertise from the university sector. For example, northern English City Deals for cities like Greater Manchester and Newcastle saw local government teaming up with universities for economic modelling and analysis. But Prof MacLennan says Sydney does not appear to have any economic metropolitan modelling ready to use. “You need to pay more attention to what you need to know before you start,” he says. “Otherwise you rely on consultants’ reports that are rarely ever in the public domain and never peer reviewed so that nobody knows what’s in them other than the government.” Once projects are up and running, it is essential to monitor their progress against targets and evaluate them effectively, although it is not always easy to know what would have happened were a City Deal not in place. “What matters is the monitoring and the learning from good monitoring,” he says. Some benefits are fiendishly tricky to quantify. For example, gauging economic gains from sustainability initiatives is difficult when there is no carbon price in Australia. Milestones are part of funding deals and if they are not met it means the next tranche of cash could be held back. The UK now has its own dedicated evaluation panel for City Deals. Putting in enough capital initially is important. Prof MacLennan says the volume of capital going into growing cities like Edinburgh, London and Manchester is not currently enough to resolve the issues these cities face. Exploring innovative methods of finance or making use of old ones could prove useful for Australian City Deals. The Scottish city of Aberdeen recently launched its own government bond but Prof MacLennan points out that cities have limited control over their tax affairs (the key to paying back bonds) and says further fiscal reform would be needed. If this is fixed, he anticipates other major cities could follow suit. In general, he says the UK has not come up with very exciting alternative methods of funding under City Deals.   On the whole, Australia is in a good position to implement City Deals and make them work. Prof MacLennan says that the Australian federal government and the states and territories have been much better at making infrastructure decisions than the UK. “I think there is a track record here off trying to think coherently about infrastructure … but the better City Deals, like Manchester, would have relevance to what happens in metropolitan Sydney.” “The images of Australia aren’t about the bush any more, it’s the cities.” [post_title] => What the UK can teach Australia about City Deals [post_excerpt] => Three Australian cities chosen for early deal. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26709 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-31 11:58:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:58:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26709 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23674 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 14:06:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 03:06:42 [post_content] => KPMG By Martin Bass Tuning in to the news recently it was hard to avoid the barrage of media attention regarding management consultants BIS Shrapnel’s economic modelling of Labor's proposed changes to negative gearing policy. Across radio and television reports, much time and attention was given to criticism of the ‘dark art’ of economic modelling and its apparent capacity to deliver whatever results or findings are required by those commissioning it. In NSW at present, economic modelling is providing strong support and justification for the Baird Government’s plans for council amalgamations. Consulting company KPMG was contracted to perform the economic modelling and prepare the 45 amalgamation proposals currently under consideration at a reported cost of $400,000. Reading through the proposals, two characteristics stand out. The first is KPMG’s modelling that indicates the consistently positive economic impacts that will flow to NSW communities as a result of the amalgamations. The second is the absence of any account of the assumptions or detailed data underpinning this modelling. Some disturbing insights into the ‘variability’ of this economic modelling are evident in examining the three-into-one amalgamation proposal for Cooma Monaro, Snowy River and Bombala Councils in the State’s south-east. According to introductory statements in the document, “The proposal .... is supported by independent analysis and modelling by KPMG.”  The proposal provides a strong rationale for the amalgamation of these councils, citing numerous financial and other benefits to both the new council and its communities. With amalgamations on the horizon in early 2015, these three councils commissioned KPMG, for a total cost of $80,000, to do some economic modelling for them and prepare a ‘Merger Business Case Analysis’. In light of the recent criticisms of economic modelling and in a quick game of ‘spot the contradictions’, a comparative assessment of the two reports makes interesting reading. Consider the following statements from the reports: State Government amalgamation proposal: "The efficiencies and savings generated by the merger will allow the new council to invest in improved service levels and/or a greater range of services and address the current infrastructure backlog across the three councils." Council merger business case analysis: "... a merged council is likely to materially underperform against benchmarks relating to asset renewal and infrastructure backlog." or: State Government amalgamation proposal: "This merger proposal will provide the new council with the opportunity to strengthen its balance sheet and provide a more consistent level of financial performance. Overall, the proposed merger is expected to enhance the financial sustainability of the new council." Council merger business case analysis: "The assumptions adopted in the financial analysis are conservative and acknowledge the likely difficulties in generating efficiencies and economies of scale from the proposed merger." or: State Government amalgamation proposal: "These communities are bound by their sense of place as an alpine region. Box 2 provides examples of community organisations, services and facilities that have a presence across the region, which indicate the existence of strong existing connections between the communities in the existing council areas." Council merger business case analysis: "... a merged council entity may also encounter challenges in tailoring programs and initiatives to diverse community interests and profiles across a region spanning more than 15,000 km2." Think about these statements - they are some of the outcomes of two economic modelling exercises performed by one consultant [KPMG] focusing on the same amalgamation scenario. Total public money expended - $480,000. Yet reading these statements, it’s hard to believe that the two reports came from one single source. The apparent contradictions are alarming. What makes this more concerning is that whilst the full KPMG report prepared for the councils is freely available, that prepared for the State Government, along with any supporting analysis and assumptions, has not been publicly released despite numerous requests from councils, communities, the State Opposition and others. In his essay in The Monthly in April 2015 titled Spreadsheets of power - How economic modelling is used to circumvent democracy and shut down debate’, Australian economist Richard Denniss observed that “Economic models are at their most powerful when only the powerful are aware of what they contain: thousands of assumptions that range from the immoral and implausible to the well-meaning but estimated. However they are made, the conclusions of a model are only as reliable as its assumptions.” In the end, the economic modellers may get these NSW amalgamations over the line. But these reports should sound warning bells for the State Government, that if they’re about to introduce sweeping changes across the State that may have far-reaching impacts on communities, modelling only for the outcomes they want is probably not good practice. There are risks and costs involved in amalgamations – any council that has been through the process will say the same. If the State Government’s own consultants found them in one case, they can probably find them in the other 44.   Martin Bass is a Sydney-based, independent local government consultant. [post_title] => Best of 2016: Cash for contradictions: KPMG's model for council mergers [post_excerpt] => Model behaviour for $480k. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cash-for-contradictions-kpmg-council-merger-reports [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 15:38:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 04:38:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23674 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 5 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24723 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-08-16 09:17:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-08-15 23:17:19 [post_content] => businessman with bicycle and colleague walking on a city street   Local councils will share their stories of community pedal power in Sydney next month at the one-day Bike Futures conference. Councils who have inspired more people to leave their cars at home and ride a bike instead will share their success stories and give practical suggestions on how they did it. Presentations will include visualization of data for cycle planning; a new study on attitudes to minimum passing distance laws from the UNSW; end of trip facilities; automated bike sharing; prevention of car door crashes; gender and cycling and active transport to school for children. The aim of the one-day conference, which is hosted by the Bicycle Network and the University of NSW, is to help local government support more people to ride bikes.  The day will cover a range of new and innovative tools, policies and technologies for local government to use in their planning and community programs. "We know getting more people on bikes helps local governments create healthier communities and tackle traffic congestion," said Erin Farley, Bicycle Network Government and External Relations Adviser. "Bike Futures is about giving local governments the expertise and tools to support bike riding in their planning and programs. Bike Futures Sydney will bring together cutting edge research and practical information for government officers to use in their day to day planning and implementation work." Speakers include Professor Chris Pettit, UNSW’s first Chair of Urban Science, who will talk about mapping cycle journeys through Australian cities; Callan Jones from Arup on protected bicycle intersections; Elizabeth Krassoi from Eurocycles on using electric bicycles to encourage more people to cycle; Al Reid from CyclePort on the first universal automated bike sharing system and sessions on preventing bicycle car door crashes curated by Inner Melbourne Safe Active Travel. Bike Futures will be held on September 7 at UNSW, Sydney.  More information and details here.   [post_title] => Bike Futures rolls into Sydney [post_excerpt] => Local councils back pedal power. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bike-futures-rolls-sydney [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-08-16 09:50:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-08-15 23:50:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24723 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24393 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-07-12 10:05:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-12 00:05:58 [post_content] => Big change ahead conceptual motivational image with road sign by the highway, retro toned image with selective focus   Public sector reform is constant and its pace quickening, yet little appears to be known about the effect such changes have on the public servants that are actually going through it. The Australian Journal of Public Administration (AFPA) is producing a special issue looking at how the way change is managed can affect employees working in the public sector and non-governmental organisations, both positively and negatively. Yvonne Brunetto and Stephen Teo from Melbourne’s RMIT University are looking for submissions from all over the world and across different sectors, including education, healthcare, emergency services and non-essential services. Ms Brunetto said she wanted to examine the real impact of change upon people and gather examples of best practice from different regions and countries that could be replicated in other settings. “There has had been a lot of writing about change at a macro level looking at organisations and how much money is being saved,” Ms Brunetto said. “We’re bringing together a critical body of evidence, particularly across countries, to see what has been the impact of change on the public sector.” Brunetto has spent many years studying how humans adapt and cope during periods of business transformation in the public sector. One study looked at how an increase in managerial power at local government level in Australia decreased the well-being and engagement of local government workers and compared this with local government workers in the USA, where this was not the case. She has also examined the experiences of police officers in the USA, after wide-ranging reforms and compared them to the well-being of police officers in Malta, where conditions were more stable. Now, the two academics want other researchers to pool their knowledge. “We’re inviting people to tell us about research at the individual level of analysis, how changes have affected employees,” she said. “There’s a whole new movement in management that’s looking towards positive organisational behaviour, what people are doing right that we can talk about as being evidence or best practice. “We’re trying to find the positive stories so that we can start to tell that story.” Research can cover a huge range of topics, such as work-life balance, brain drain, workers compensation, stress claims, what empowering structures look like, the glass ceiling and whether short-term contracts have affected employee well-being. However, Brunetto says she is open to stories of how change was handled badly and produced poor outcomes for workers. Timeline
  • Send 250 words abstract as an expression of interest to yvonne.brunetto@scu.edu.au and stephen.teo2@rmit.edu.au by 31 August, 2016
  • Notification to proceed to full paper by 15 September, 2016
  • Submission of full paper via the Journal’s Manuscript Central website: 01 February 2017
  • Publication in late December 2017 or early 2018
[post_title] => Big change ahead: how reform affects public servants [post_excerpt] => Call for research papers. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => change-affects-public-servants [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-07-15 09:14:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-07-14 23:14:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24393 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22580 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-01-05 10:53:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-01-04 23:53:51 [post_content] => New York Sunset - HDR Six NSW councils have headed to Brooklyn, New Jersey and New York City for some inspiring lessons in urban planning, Big Apple style. Professor Ed Blakely, from the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University took mayors and urban planners from Canada Bay, Gosford, Hornsby, Pittwater, Marrickville and Wollongong Councils to six East Coast cities in September 2015 to give them a fresh slant on urban regeneration so they could return home and make their backyards more liveable. Mr Blakely, who was the New Orleans recovery czar after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said American cities provided useful comparisons to Australian cities because they had a similar government structure and many had made historically poor planning decisions guided by money, not people, that were coming back to bite them. Each council was matched with a city that had been grappling with a similar planning problem. For example, Marrickville Council was partnered with Brooklyn, because both were concerned with regenerating industrial areas with arts precincts and live music. The Future Cities Program, which Prof. Blakely set up in 2011, aims to lead by example and show councils how to recreate spaces and make them more sustainable, with a mix of housing, businesses and social life, while avoiding past planning mistakes. But these study tours are not junkets or high theory – the aim is to confront a planning problem, map out a possible solution, go on a comparative fact-finding mission to the US and then help councils to make their dreams real. “When you’re overseas, all of a sudden the phones stop. It allows staff and decision makers to see something in a different environment together,” Prof Blakely said. “They see places that were broken down and had to face the future using their current urban fabric in new ways. Factories closed down in Jersey City, they were a toxic waste dump, and they now have one of the most beautiful, sustainable and habitable wetland parks system in the world.” Council staff come back super motivated and ready to roll up their sleeves. For example, Parramatta Council’s new $100 million Draft Parramatta City River Strategy, with its city beach, board walk and square, was directly informed by a Future Cities study tour to the American West Coast in 2013 and particularly by Santa Monica’s boulevard and beach. “They loved it. They loved the square, the promenade and the intersection between existing and new retail,” Prof Blakely said. He said that city residents were often already aware of how different cities and spaces in other countries looked. “Almost nobody here comes from here so they have some pretty good ideas of their home environments, many of which are walkable and interesting, from Tehran to London. So many of our people travel and see these things.” Marrickville councillor Rosana Tyler went on the September US tour and said it had been invaluable in working how to invigorate an industrial area around Marrickville and Sydenham and turn it into a hub for creative industries, temporary artists’ accommodation, live music and perhaps even the odd boutique hotel. “It certainly broadens the mind. It’s a culture that’s very similar to ours, even though they often do things very differently from us. It’s nice to think what you could do with more integrated planning (which Marrickville Council has been trying to do for a while),” Ms Tyler said. She said the process had been good for testing out ideas with other NSW councils and planners from the US Studies Centre too. “It gets you out of your comfort zone because you have to present your project quite a few times and it’s critiqued. You also get everybody else’s projects.” Already known for its pop-up shops, small bars, artists’ studios, craft brewers, coffee roasters and authentic multicultural food the Sydney inner west council is considering zoning the parcel of land known as the Marrickville/Sydenham Industrial Lands as a ‘free for all’, where the only thing taken into account will be the potential impact of an activity. Permanent residential buildings are out due to aircraft noise and the flood plain. Ms Tyler visited New York’s meatpacking district, famous for rising phoenix-like from its empty factories into a centre for live music and art. She said Brooklyn was also interesting for its creation of an area for creative arts. The Future Cities program does not exist in other Australian states but Prof Blakely thinks it should. “They could all benefit from a program like this. It would bring universities together to help solve urban planning problems. At the moment, universities act as critics, with very little involvement in most cases.” Prof Blakely said that American universities were compelled to develop such relationships with the cities they were in and they were often asked to contribute towards solving current planning problem. Future Cities Collaborative: Lessons on Housing Affordability from the USA The delivery of housing to first homebuyers, renters, key workers and the disadvantaged poses a significant issue across Sydney and the state of NSW. As participants in the 2014 Future Cities Program noted, there are currently very few meaningful ways for local governments to respond to this challenge to deliver both housing that is affordable relative to household incomes and financially assisted 'affordable housing'. Even the definition of affordable housing is hotly debated in Australia. Realising the lack of constructive discourse on the issue, and demand for action by local governments, the Future Cities Collaborative has engaged a leading American public policy, finance, and development consultant Dr David Rosen. The crux of the issue is the fact that the social dislocation and economic disadvantage caused by the inability to deliver housing of the form and price required by key parts of our communities is likely to worsen unless meaningful and urgent measures are taken. Ever increasing housing prices, both in real terms and relevant to gross income, is causing the net migration 18-34 year olds, forcing them to leave family, friends and networks, to move to areas of a lower price point. The disparity between areas with strong job opportunities for this key demographic and areas with an affordable rental market is continuing, and set to worsen. Similarly, many keyworkers in the service, hospitality, and public sector cannot afford to live in the community they work, leading to longer commutes, congestion, lost productivity, and social impacts on families and relationships. Cities within the United States are also facing these issues and are addressing housing affordability through a number of levers created at a local, state and federal government level including the provision of tax incentives for corporations to assist in affordable housing projects, affordable housing targets, inclusionary zoning, and increased diversity of housing products. The Future Cities Collaborative is leveraging their unique position as a facilitator of bilateral learning to bring Dr Rosen to Sydney for an intensive week of workshops, seminars and lecture in March. A recognised authority in the field of US affordable housing finance , Dr Rosen shared his thoughts on how these levers may apply to the Australian context during a lecture tour in March including a public lecture as part of the Sydney Ideas series at the University of Sydney. Under the theme of “ Can You Afford to Live Where You Choose?” the speaking tour examined some of the present challenges facing US and Australian cities in delivering affordable housing and how tax incentives and inclusionary zoning can be used to combat the problem. While in Sydney, Dr Rosen will also took part in a number of events for Future Cities Collaborative members including a roundtable with government and industry leaders and workshops with New South Wales Government representatives and senior council leaders. The Future Cities Collaborative brings together policy, practice and research to inform city leaders into inspired action to build great cities. An initiative of the United States Studies Centre, the Future Cities Collaborative’s primary role is to promote sustainable urban development by supporting city leaders with leadership and strategic management tools; creating a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information; and develop skills and knowledge in building sustainable cities. Get in touch with www.futurecities.org.au and the United States Studies Centre at http://ussc.edu.au/ for more information. This story first appeared in Government News magazine April/May 2015   [post_title] => New York state of mind for NSW councils [post_excerpt] => Lessons in urban planning from America. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-york-state-of-mind-for-nsw-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-01-05 15:03:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-01-05 04:03:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22580 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21409 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-09-15 12:35:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-15 02:35:37 [post_content] => drowning robot Males over 55 in NSW are the group most likely to die from drowning, says the Royal Life Saving Society National Drowning Report 2015, which was released today. The report says that men over 55 represent one-third of all drownings. Males of all ages are much more likely to get into trouble in the water than females: 80 per cent of all drowning deaths were male. Perhaps surprisingly, the demographic least likely to die from drowning was children aged between five and 14 (3 per cent) while 10 per cent of deaths were in the under four age group. The report charts 271 deaths from drowning between July 2014 and June 2015, an increase of five deaths from the year before. Despite this increase, the figure represents a reduction of 17 deaths from the average of 288 drownings per year over the past decade, and is the second lowest on average since 2002/2003. The most dangerous locations for drowning deaths were inland waterways, such as rivers, creeks and streams, with 37 per cent of all drowning deaths occurring there. Beaches accounted for a further 20 per cent of deaths and harbours or ocean locations, 13 per cent. In around one-quarter of cases (23 per cent) people were swimming or larking about before they drowned but 20 per cent were on a boat or other watercraft and 16 per cent drowned after falling into the water. The state where the most drowning deaths occurred was in NSW, which had 37 per cent of cases, followed by Queensland with 23 per cent of drowning deaths and Victoria and Western Australia both at 14 per cent. However, this is a little misleading because these are obviously the most populous states. Tasmania recorded the highest rate of drowning deaths per head of the population, with 1.75 per 100,000 people and the Northern Territory the second highest rate at 1.64 per 100,000 people. The ACT had the lowest rate of drowning in Australia at 0.26 per 100,000 people. The National Fatal Drowning Database has been kept for the past 13 years and has recorded almost 4,000 cases. The database is used, among other things, to provide advice to coroners and to all three tiers of government and institutions and to inform the draft Australian Water Safety Strategy 2016 to 2020. The report issued a number of tips to prevent death by drowning including: • Wear a life jacket • Know your limitations and keep track of your fitness levels • Closely supervise children • Learn life-saving skills, CPR and first aid • Alcohol and water don’t mix • Be aware of any existing medical conditions [post_title] => Men over 55 in NSW most likely to drown [post_excerpt] => Inland waterways most dangerous: National Drowning Report. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => men-over-55-in-nsw-most-likely-to-drown [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-18 09:46:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-17 23:46:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21409 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21140 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-08-24 18:36:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-24 08:36:56 [post_content] => Crowd Governments around the world are getting wise to using crowdsourcing to help formulate imaginative government policy and make the process more dynamic and inclusive for its citizens, something worth thinking about in these times of political disengagement, unravelling social cohesion and declining western voting levels. Crowdsourcing and policy making was the subject of a lecture by visiting academic Dr Tanja Aitamurto at Victoria's Swinburne University of Technology earlier this month. Dr Aitamurto wrote "Crowdsourcing for Democracy: New Era in Policy-Making" and led the design and implementation of the Finnish Experiment, a pioneering case study in crowdsourcing policy making. She spoke about how Scandinavian countries have used crowdsourcing to “tap into the collective intelligence of a large and diverse crowd" in an “open ended knowledge information search process” in an open call for anybody to participate online and complete a task. It has already been used widely and effectively by companies  such as Proctor and Gamble who offer a financial reward for solutions to their R&D problems. The Finnish government recently used crowdsourcing when it came to reform the country’s Traffic Act following a rash of complaints to the Minister of the Environment about it. The Act, which regulates issues such as off-road traffic, is an emotive issue in Finland where snow mobiles are used six months of the year and many people live in remote areas. The idea was for people to submit problems and solutions online, covering areas such as safety, noise, environmental protection, the rights of snowmobile owners and landowners’ rights. Everyone could see what was written and could comment on it. Dr Aitamurto said crowdsourcing had four stages: • The problem mapping space, where people were asked to outline the issues that needed solving • An appeal for solutions • An expert panel evaluated the comments received based on the criteria of: effectiveness, cost efficiency, ease of implementation and fairness. The crowd also had the chance to evaluate and rank solutions online • The findings were then handed over to the government for the law writing process Dr Aitamurto said active participation seemed to create a strong sense of empowerment for those involved. She said some people reported that it was the first time in their lives they felt they were really participating in democracy and influencing decision making in society. They said it felt much more real than voting in an election, which felt alien and remote. “Participation becomes a channel for advocacy, not just for self-interest but a channel to hear what others are saying and then also to make yourself heard. People expected a compromise at the end,” Dr Aitamurto said. Being able to participate online was ideal for people who lived remotely and turned crowdsourcing into a democratic innovation which brought citizens closer to policy and decision making between elections. Other benefits included reaching out to tap into new pools of knowledge, rather than relying on a small group of homogenous experts to solve the problem. “When we use crowdsourcing we actually extend our knowledge search to multiple, hundreds of thousands of distant neighbourhoods online and that can be the power of crowdsourcing: to find solutions and information that we wouldn’t find otherwise. We find also unexpected information because it’s a self-selecting crowd … people that we might not have in our networks already," Dr Aitamurto said. The process can increase transparency as people interact on online platforms and where the government keeps feedback loops going. Dr Aitamurto is also a pains to highlight what crowdsourcing is not and cannot be, because participants are self-selecting and not statistically representative. “The crowd doesn’t make decisions, it provides information. It’s not a method or tool for direct democracy and it’s not a public opinion poll either”. Crowdsourcing has fed into policy in other countries too, for example, during Iceland’s constitutional reform and in the United States where the federal Emergency Management Agency overhauled its strategy after a string of natural disasters. Australian government has been getting in on the act using cloud-based software Citizen Space to gain input into a huge range of topics. While much of it is technically consultation, rather than feeding into actual policy design, it is certainly a step towards more open government. British company Delib, which is behind the software, bills it as “managing, publicising and archiving all of your organisation's consultation activity”. One council who has used Citizens Space is Wyong Shire on the NSW Central Coast. The council has used the consultation hub to elicit ratepayers’ views on a number of topics, including a special rate variation, community precinct forums, strategic plans and planning decisions. One of Citizen Space’s most valuable features is the section ‘we asked, you said, we did’. When the council held a consultation on rate increases this section summarised what people had been asked to comment on, who responded, what they said and the actions the council would take in response. It’s clear, it gives people who have bothered to respond some feedback on the process and shows that councils are not just in it for the sake of it. People can quickly and easily make submissions on development applications and planning controls, search the results of past consultations and sign up for the council’s resident e-panel. The council’s Manager of Customer and Community relations Sue Ledingham said the council did a lot of research and looked at a number of solutions before choosing Citizen Space. “We were looking for something that gave us an opportunity for us to manage a consultation, rather than outsourcing it to someone else,” Ms Ledingham said. “We wanted to have that skillset in house and train our staff up to get used to managing our own consultations and linking it back to our resident e-panel. It gave us the flexibility to do that.” She said the product meant teams carrying out the consultation were responsible for data collection and reporting, “the onus is on teams and staff to really deliver in the consultation and really look at what people are saying.” Another major advantage of the platform is being able to dispense with (often) expensive consultants to run consultations and keeping the raw data. “We didn’t have a central place where the information was and couldn’t write reports on what was trending and what people were saying over time. Now we do. “We’re finding that there’s more take up and a big change in how we’re engaging with the community. It provides people access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They don’t have to come to a forum if they don’t want to.” Asked how much the service cost Ms Ledingham said it was a “cost effective solution”. Some of Delib’s other clients include the federal Departments of Health, Environment, Communication and Finance; Queensland State Development, Infrastructure and Planning; City of Melbourne and the British National Health Service. [post_title] => Can the crowd deliver more open government? [post_excerpt] => Online civic engagement between elections. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => can-the-crowd-deliver-more-open-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-08-25 10:58:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-08-25 00:58:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21140 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20116 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-06-16 10:29:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-06-16 00:29:42 [post_content] => Story Bridge  (Explore) An academic study comparing mega council Brisbane City Council (BCC) with other NSW and Queensland councils, including the City of Sydney (COS), across four key financial indicators has cast further doubt on the value of the NSW government’s amalgamation agenda. The study,  Is Biggest Best? A Comparative Analysis of the Financial Viability of the Brisbane City Council, compared the financial performance of BCC, the largest local authority in Australia, with six similar councils in South East Queensland, 10 metropolitan NSW councils and the City of Sydney over four years. BCC has a population of around 1.07 million. The analysis was carried out by two Southern Cross University academics, Elisabeth Sinnewe and Michael A.Kortt, and Brian Dollery from the University of New England’s Faculty of Economics. Their analysis found that BCC was eclipsed by the other councils on three of the four financial indicators but it also found that BCC households paid rates and fees that were about average in Queensland and often lower than NSW metropolitan councils. Financial indicators included council's financial flexibility and control over its operating expenditure, which was measured using the proportion of own-source revenue ( such as rates and charges), compared with BCC’s external revenue, such as government grants; its ability to meet short-term debt obligations; the availability of cash to service debt payments such as interest and lease payments and its building and asset infrastructure renewal program. BCC fell down on the first three indicators with the study revealing: •    BCC’s own-source revenue (43 per cent) is well below the accepted 60 per cent benchmark and below that of COS and the other councils, which gives it less financial flexibility; •    BCC suffers from “severe liquidity constraints” which the report says could compromise its ability to meet short-term debt. It could also affect whether cash is readily available to meet operational costs and make investments. In contrast, the other councils comfortably meet the benchmark short-term assets:short-term liabilities ratio; •    BCC’s ability to meet its borrowing costs from its operating income was below the benchmark figure and below that of the comparison groups, who have all met the established benchmark for each of the four years. Where BCC does well •    BCC’s rates and fees per household were $1980 per year - about average for other larger South East Queensland councils, below the average for the Metropolitan NSW group ($2165) and far below that of COS, where households pay an average of $4619pa in rates and fees; •    The study found that BCC scored well on investing in new infrastructure compared with the rate its assets deteriorated, investment being at the ratio of 3:1. This is in stark comparison to NSW councils, whose ability to renew infrastructure has steadily declined over the past four years, although the study pointed out that NSW has a narrower definition of asset renewal. The study concluded: “In sum, our financial analysis of BCC casts considerable doubts over the continuing mantra that ‘bigger is better’ in the context of contemporary Australian local government,” said the report. “Employing standard measures of financial sustainability, we found that between 2008 and 2011, the three comparison groups consistently ‘outperformed’ the BCC in key areas of financial flexibility, liquidity and debt servicing ability. “Moreover these finding lend further support to the growing corpus of research that suggests that ‘bigger is not always best’. "If the claims of proponents of the ‘bigger is best’ doctrine underlying compulsory council consolidation are correct, then BCC should easily outperform comparator councils across a majority of performance indicators.” The findings are particularly relevant in the light of the NSW government's push to dramatically reduce the number of councils in the state. An independent Local Government Review Panel recommended in a 2013 report that 105 of the state’s152  councils consider merging that eight councils in the far west of the state should form a Far West organisation and cutting Sydney’s councils from 41 to about 15. NSW Councils must submit their Fit for the Future applications in two weeks, stating either that they wish to merge with one or more of their neighbours or proving that they are large enough and sustainable enough to go it alone . Overseas data on council mergers The report also quotes  studies of council amalgamations overseas, claiming they have unearthed similar, mixed but mostly uninspiring evidence, that flies in the face of claims that bigger councils deliver improved services, greater efficiency at a lower cost making them more sustainable. •    In Europe (including Italy, Greece, Spain, France and Italy) researchers found that: “municipal mergers had failed to deliver on their intended objectives” •    Evidence from Canadian councils showed wages went up post-amalgamation and consequently so did costs •    US research found that “municipal mergers had not met their proposed economic objectives but had instead led to increased expenditure” The report concluded: “In general, the majority of this empirical literature casts considerable doubt on whether they purported benefits of council mergers were realised, particularly in relation to enhancing the operational efficiency of local councils…and cost savings had not been realised.” Australian data Dollery et al said that research on council mergers in Australia was almost exclusively through public enquiries at state and national level. “A common theme that has emerged from theses official public inquiries is that the continued use of force amalgamations as the preferred policy instrument has failed to address the seemingly intractable financial problems facing local councils across Australia (in particular rural and remote councils). “Notwithstanding the dearth of empirical evidence, the belief that ‘bigger is better’ is so entrenched in the psyche of local government policy makers that forced amalgamation has been repeatedly used in Australia and abroad in an attempt to enhance local government efficiency.” (Dollery et al. 2008, 2012). [post_title] => Is Brisbane proof biggest councils aren't best? [post_excerpt] => BCC falls down on 3 of 4 financial indicators. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brisbane-city-council-further-proof-biggest-not-always-best [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-06-18 22:27:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-06-18 12:27:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20116 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15790 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2014-07-29 13:06:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-07-29 03:06:02 [post_content] => IMG_1366 It may be isolated, but far flung Lord Howe Island is $4.5 million closer to becoming the first community in Australia to generate most of its own power using renewable energy and slash its diesel use by 70 per cent in the process. The Lord Howe Island Board, which manages the island’s infrastructure and services, has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to create a 1MW hybrid renewable project harnessing and storing wind and solar power, with a target of achieving a 70 per cent renewable energy power system by 2018. If successful, the project is likely to serve as a strong, practical example of how renewable energy can be directly translated into hard economic benefits. Self-sufficiency is a serious business when you live on an island 600kms east of the NSW mainland and a boat comes in once a fortnight from Port Macquarie with supplies that includes diesel for the island’s generator to provide power to 350 residents and 400 tourists. It costs around $1.70 per litre to ship diesel in, compared with an average NSW price of $1.58 per litre and the island’s board subsidises electricity for islanders due to the high cost of generation. If the renewable hybrid power project goes ahead, a study by Powercorp on the island’s energy supply says it expects the cost of a unit of energy to plummet to less than half of the cost of supplying it solely by diesel generation. It’s firm evidence of those kinds of economic savings that are in turn likely to help other remote communities and local governments get their own renewable power projects. Lord Howe Island Board chief executive Penny Holloway told Government News that the board was applying to NSW Treasury to fund the remainder of the $11.6 million project. If the money is secured, which should be decided early next year, the board is hoping to begin straight away importing two two-bladed, 55-metre wind turbines (half the size of mainland turbines), solar panels and battery storage, using diesel as back-up. “There will be a saving on diesel fuel,” Ms Holloway said. “People will still have to pay electric bills because we will still have to pay for running the system but hopefully ones that people can afford to pay.” NSW Treasury has already given the island’s board $65,000 to prepare a business case supporting its funding bid, which will include building a wind mast the same height as the Vergnet turbines it will later erect. Building the wind mast will also measure wind and assess the turbine’s impact on birds and bats as part of the bid’s environmental assessment. An engineer will also be employed to complete a technical feasibility study and pull together a design. Ms Holloway said generating renewable energy could also make it easier for people to run electric vehicles on the island, where the speed limit is 25km and there is only 10km of road, as energy would be more reliable. However NSW Roads and Maritime Services would first need to permit the registration of the small electric vehicles, which look a bit like golf buggies. But it’s the creature comforts that mainlanders take for granted that underscore the need for and benefits of energy security on Lord Howe. A good, steady renewable power supply could lead to the lifting of a blanket ban on air conditioning currently in place on the island, Ms Holloway said. ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the project would help other remote Australian communities pursuing similar, off-grid projects in the future by sharing knowledge on planning and construction and so reducing costs. “The project is designed to demonstrate the cost and reliability of deploying a high penetration renewable hybrid system in a remote location,” Mr Frischknecht said. [post_title] => Lord Howe Island tilts at renewable energy independence [post_excerpt] => Solar, wind and storage set to slash big diesel bills. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => lord-howe-island-tilts-renewable-energy-independence [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-07-29 14:36:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-07-29 04:36:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15790 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 13 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27754 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 08:55:38 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27755" align="alignnone" width="287"]
Cr Jennifer Alden, Craig Lloyd and Cr Andrea Metcalf (L-R).[/caption] Recent audits of local waste and recycling bins have shown that Greater Bendigo residents are still sending significant amounts of recyclables straight to landfill by placing many items that could be recycled into their waste bins. In an effort to improve recycling rates, the City of Greater Bendigo has launched a new community education Sort it out before you throw it out! advertising campaign. The campaign will provide useful information about the items that residents are currently not recycling to make them aware that they can. It will utilise television, radio, print, social media and signage to encourage residents to think about and improve the way they sort their waste, organics and recycling. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets director Craig Lloyd said the City’s recent waste bin audits showed that 40% of the contents of local waste bins should have been placed in the recycling bin while 22 per cent could have gone in the organics bin. “The audit is backed up by State Government figures that place Greater Bendigo in the bottom 50 per cent of Victoria’s 79 local government areas for waste resource recovery,” said Mr Lloyd. “Unfortunately, many Greater Bendigo residents are still placing recyclables such as paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cans, plastics and organic garden and food waste in their red lid waste bin. “Objects that can be recycled are a valuable resource and the cost of sending waste to landfill will continue to rise so the more we recycle and the less we send to landfill the better. “Greater Bendigo wants to become one of, if not the best, local government area for resource recovery in the future. “Many people may be surprised to learn that Greater Bendigo residents are not very good at recycling and we want to see this change for the better in the near future.” Results from the audit:-
  • The average residential red lid waste bin contains 40% recyclable items, 22% organics and 38% actual waste.
  • The recyclable materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.
  • The organic materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly grass clippings and leaves, general food waste and food in packaging.
  • The average residential recycling bin contains 9% contamination. This is comprised of 5.3% general waste and 3.7% of materials such as clothing, crockery and scrap metal that cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling collection.
  • The average organics bin contains 2% contamination. This is comprised of 1% general waste and 1% recyclables such as glass, plastics and metals.
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Case Studies