The 2008 Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) Conference, held at the Country Club in Launceston from 18 – 20 June, kicked off with the LGAT General Meeting and AGM.
At the meeting representatives from Tasmanian councils discussed a range of important issues currently facing the sector, including the introduction of compulsory voting.
Mayor Gaffney told delegates it was vital for Local Government in Tasmania to meet annually in order to raise concerns and further extend their knowledge base.
“It’s imperative for councils to discuss and debate issues and continually investigate ways of managing and facilitating change more effectively,” he said.
The most innovative communities have fewer leaders and more ‘weirdos’, commonly outsiders, who see and create opportunities invisible to longer term residents. This was the key message from organisational psychologist, facilitator and social researcher Ian Plowman, who addressed delegates at the Conference.
“The towns most capable of thriving have more creative individuals, which are commonly the most mobile in the community. By identifying and supporting these people, communities can tap into an invaluable resource and find they already have the innovative talent they crave.”
Think global act local
Climate change is rapidly becoming a number one concern for communities across the globe and Tasmanian councils were urged to act now in order to prepare for the potential impacts of global warming on their local government areas.
Dean of Graduate Research at the University of Tasmania, Dr Kate Crowley said the Australian community’s desire for urgent action on climate change had been unequivocal for over a decade.
“Local government is the tier of government most capable of grassroots mobilisation but is also the least powerful and least financially independent. Under these circumstances Tasmanian councils will need to combine their efforts in order to gain the State and Federal support they need to address climate change issues,” she said.
Dr Crowley also addressed the State’s local government leaders at the conference about how councils can adopt a framework for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Surfing the Waves of Change
Ageing populations, climate change impacts, water and sewerage issues, commodity and energy prices, health pandemics, infrastructure decline, waste management and housing affordability are just some of the issues currently facing Tasmanian councils.
The key message from Futurist and Strategic Planner Oliver Freeman, was compiling a list is easy – the hard part for local government is planning for and overcoming these issues without spending vast amounts of time and money on just another analysis that few want and everyone forgets.
Mr Freeman who spoke on the last day of the conference said the challenge for councils was to make effective the link between the relative uncertainties of the future with the decisions that must be made today.
“In planning for the future, councils also need to consider modern challenges and how they will impact on local communities, such as the social impact of online networks like Facebook and Twittter.com,” Mr Freeman said.
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