WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [tag] => paul-toole ) [query_vars] => Array ( [tag] => paul-toole [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [name] => [static] => [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [category_name] => [cat] => [tag_id] => 17232 [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array (  => 22371 ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array (  => paul-toole ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [post_type] => [posts_per_page] => 14 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object ( [queries] => Array (  => Array ( [taxonomy] => category [terms] => Array (  => 22371 ) [field] => term_id [operator] => NOT IN [include_children] => )  => Array ( [taxonomy] => post_tag [terms] => Array (  => paul-toole ) [field] => slug [operator] => IN [include_children] => 1 ) ) [relation] => AND [table_aliases:protected] => Array (  => wp_term_relationships ) [queried_terms] => Array ( [post_tag] => Array ( [terms] => Array (  => paul-toole ) [field] => slug ) ) [primary_table] => wp_posts [primary_id_column] => ID ) [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 17232 [name] => Paul-Toole [slug] => paul-toole [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 17228 [taxonomy] => post_tag [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 79 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 17232 [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1 AND ( wp_posts.ID NOT IN ( SELECT object_id FROM wp_term_relationships WHERE term_taxonomy_id IN (22364) ) AND wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (17228) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 14 [posts] => Array (  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27264 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-05-30 12:48:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-30 02:48:56 [post_content] => By Andy Young The NSW Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Bill, which was passed by the State Parliament last week, will see strikes recorded against licensed venues removed. The changes to the laws will see strikes now recorded against the licensee rather than the venue, as The Shout reported earlier this week. Minister Paul Toole said it would be “impractical” for the previous strikes to remain in place when moving forward with the new scheme as it would mean that two different schemes would be in place at the same time. Arthur Laundy, whose hotel The Steyne in Manly received a strike, told TheShout that he felt "vindicated in as much as right from the start I have said that I don’t believe this is a fair rule". "I’ve said it right from the start, the government got it right with the clubs, but they didn’t get it right with the hotels," Laundy said. As I explained to someone yesterday who was struggling to understand the issue: you own a trucking company and you employ drivers, if a driver goes out and has a serious accident, who should get the penalty? The driver of the truck, or the owner of the truck? He said, good analogy, I understand." He added: "I own the hotel, but I’m not at the hotel. I’m not the licensee. I’ve never considered it was a fair rule. I’ve argued now for some years on exactly that line. People have called me this morning to say it was a good victory, and I’ve said it was fair. I don’t think I asked for anything that was unfair." Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout. [post_title] => New rules see licence strikes cleared [post_excerpt] => Pubs vindicated. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27264 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-30 12:48:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-30 02:48:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27264 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26607 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-22 13:37:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-22 02:37:08 [post_content] => Pledging to fight on: North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson. Pic: Facebook. North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson has vowed to contest the mayoralty again in the next local government elections, despite toxic relationships between her and four other councillors. Relationships between the Mayor and other councillors and between the Mayor and the former General Manager Warwick Winn had become so fraught that former NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole ordered a public inquiry in January 2016 in an attempt to stop the squabbles. Tom Howard SC, who conducted the inquiry for the Office of Local Government (OLG), uncovered “a degree of conflict and personal antipathy” among councillors which he said had led to some “poor decisions” but he refrained from suspending or dismissing the council, instead issuing an improvement performance order (IPO). NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upon lambasted the three councils named in the report, which also included Auburn and Murray River, for their ‘petty rivalries, childish behaviour and self-interest’. While the atmosphere over at North Sydney Council chambers had lifted somewhat after the departure of Mr Winn in April 2016, tensions among councillors were still in evidence at this week’s council meeting when four councillors – councillors Jeff Morris, Zoe Baker, Melissa Clare and Maryanne Beregi - walked out while the Mayor was speaking about the Office of Local Government report, saying that it had vindicated her. "The relentless actions of my protagonists has gone way beyond politics. It's gone against civility and on many occasions I felt dehumanised," Ms Gibson told the meeting. She told Government News that she was “extremely disappointed that some councillors were disrespectful and walked out of the meeting when I was speaking". But despite labelling the inquiry process “exhausting and harrowing” and saying she had been bullied by other councillors for a long time the Mayor came out swinging, saying she was “enormously resilient” and would stand for the mayoralty at the council elections, likely to be on September 9. She said her poor treatment by other councillors did not match the reception she got in the community and this is where she spent most of her time. “I have been treated with great disrespect within these four walls but out in the community I am treated with kindness, affection and respect,” Ms Gibson said. Resignation had never been on the cards. “I’ve stayed strong. You can’t give in to workplace bullying. It just encourages them. I made a four-year commitment to the North Sydney community. “I work incredibly hard for this community: I’m the only one that ever turns up a public and community events and citizenship ceremonies. I’m very resilient and I love my job.” Asked if the relationship breakdown hindered the workings of council she said: “We get the business of council done very well. It’s just unfortunate that I have to do my job [coping] with hostility and rudeness.” Councillor Melissa Clare did not welcome the Mayor's resolution to seek another term as Mayor. "It is increasingly impossible to work with the mayor as she believes that she is the dictator rather than a elected official who has to work with others," Ms Clare said. "She is bullying, erratic and irrational. We continue to try to work with her - or else work around her- so as to ensure that the business of council is conducted in the most orderly and efficient manner for our residents (despite her attempt to create chaos and drama through misinformation and outright lies)." Ms Clare denied that the OLG report had backed Ms Gibson. "It did not vindicate her as much as point out that she is incapable of carrying out her role and that is evidenced by her inability to chair meetings despite 17 years on council and numerous (repeated) training sessions." Ms Gibson had planned to stand as an independent candidate for North Shore in the state by-election on April 8, the seat recently vacated by Liberal stalwart and former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, but she withdrew her nomination on Thursday. There are at least three other independents standing: Royal North Shore surgeon Dr Stephen Ruff, local campaigner Ian Mutton and Mosman Councillor Carolyn Corrigan. “If the independents work together and do preference deals one of them has a good chance of winning,” Ms Gibson said. “If the aim is to keep the Liberals out then it’s sensible to preference.” But she said it was doubtful that this would happen, “so far there have been refusals to do any preference deals” and added that an independent candidate could not possibly win alone. “I think those discussions are done and dusted.” Independents will square up against Felicity Wilson, who is the Liberal Party’s North Shore candidate. North Sydney councillor Jeff Morris has been contacted for comment. [post_title] => Embattled North Sydney Mayor vows to contest mayoralty again [post_excerpt] => Preference deals unlikely among North Shore independents at by-election. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => embattled-north-sydney-mayor-vows-contest-mayoralty [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-27 10:15:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-26 23:15:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26607 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26265 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-17 10:19:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-16 23:19:05 [post_content] => Council mergers: A tale of two Premiers NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s decision on Tuesday to dump six regional council mergers and push ahead with Sydney metropolitan mergers concludes another chapter in what has been a terribly managed process. Forcibly merging local councils was never going to be easy but former NSW Premier Mike Baird and Local Government Minister Paul Toole set in motion a sequence of events that further tarnished the public’s view of politicians, irritated councils and angered councillors, all while swallowing a huge amount of time, effort and money. The words dog’s and breakfast spring to mind. “It’s a well-earned epithet in this case,” says Professor Graham Sansom, who led the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s (ILGRP) inquiry into NSW local government reform in 2013. “I think you can say with some fairness that pretty much everything they could get wrong they did get wrong,” says Prof Sansom. “The merger process has unquestionably been a disaster.” Council mergers are not inherently right or wrong – this is the fifth round of council mergers in NSW since the 1970s - but the way the government set about selling them to the public and its dealings with councils was chaotic, inconsistent and disrespectful. Devious even. In the meantime, other important local government reforms – like reviewing the rates system; encouraging better council co-operation around strategic planning and service delivery; and updating the Local Government Act were pushed into the background as mergers sparked all-out war. It seemed mergers were the only game in town. Articulating the merger message Mike Baird’s success in pushing through the poles and wires sell-off to fund that state’s new infrastructure was partly because he went into the 2015 state election saying he was going to do it and he outlined the benefits of doing so for ordinary Australians. Contrast this with the flimflammery surrounding council mergers: another extremely emotive policy area. The government downplayed the subject of council mergers before the 2015 State election, vaguely indicating it would proceed with voluntary mergers and saying that it might push others. It didn’t help that some government MPs, including Mr Toole, had signed petitions and spoken publicly against forced amalgamations in the recent past. Prof Sansom says the government should have been upfront and honest about what it wanted to do and clearly set out the benefits and objectives of wider local government reform. But the government’s narrow focus, in public at least, was on the savings it said mergers would deliver - $2 billion over 20 years – opening it up to furious disagreement from academics like University of New England’s Professor Brian Dollery at the Centre for Local Government. “By just carrying on constantly about saving a few million here and a few million there I think the government shot itself in the foot because cash savings are the hardest benefit to prove. The financial evidence base was weak,” Prof Sansom says. “And you don’t throw everything into that much turmoil for just one or two per cent savings on total government expenditure.” Instead, other community benefits should have been stressed, such as better quality services, improved metropolitan planning, more opportunities for regional development, stronger local governance, ‘tangible things that people care about’ says Sansom. The government could have spoken about giving councils more scope and more political clout at state and federal level, rather than bypassing them with new agencies like Urban Growth and the Greater Sydney Commission. “The state government is doing things that local government ought to be doing,” he says. Roberta Ryan, Professor and Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance and the Centre for Local Government at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), agrees that the NSW government got hung up on the possible cost savings of mergers, without properly articulating the advantages of broader local government reforms. “It is important that other potential reforms are explored and progressed at the same time - amalgamation is only one tool - and the NSW Inquiry outlined 60 plus other recommendations, some of which are being progress as well, so it is useful not to have the argument just focus on this one aspect,” Prof Ryan says. She says the emphasis on savings alone did not help the government’s case. “The evidence is that rates rise to the higher value and services levels also rise from the lower level to the higher level following amalgamation - so this further reduces the potential for cost savings,” says Prof Ryan. “There may well be long-run efficiencies and higher capacity for local government in the long run which can be beneficial - so the evidence of cost savings needs to be considered as part of short term and longer term arguments.” Prof Ryan says people are ‘generally 50:50’ about mergers but their perspectives can shift. People in regional and rural areas are more concerned about the negative impact of mergers, she says. 2015-2016 UTS research, Why Local Government Matters, showed resistance to mergers dropped markedly when the public interest benefits of mergers were spelt out. Providing the research to back it up and showing evidence of good process was also critical. “In the metro areas - the government has a good story to tell - it needs to get out and run the arguments - locality by locality - giving people good processes - access to evidence of the potential benefits - and explain their rationale for undertaking these reforms,” she says. Producing the evidence and sharing it was also necessary when selling mergers to the public. “This evidence then becomes part of the public debate that keeps everyone informed and prevents the exchange of ignorance on both sides - the NSW government has invested substantially in gathering this evidence - but it would benefit from communicating it more to the affected communities.” Baird et al got themselves in a pickle because the evidence for cost saving was weak and they’d made mergers all about saving money. The NSW Government was not overly forthcoming about supplying the evidence either. The KPMG report, that it says backs up its merger case, is yet to be released in its entirety. The government’s over-reliance on savings to make its case also led to jarring inconsistencies during the Fit for the Future process when some councils that were strong financially were forced to merge, while other strugglers were left to stand alone. It left the government open to charges of political opportunism and deepened public cynicism with the process. Prof Sansom says: “You’ve got to be able to explain what your strategy is and why you’re doing it and you’ve got to be consistent from one place to another. If you treat areas for no good reason differently people lose faith,” he says. Listening to ratepayers, allaying fears The government failed to listen to residents’ concerns or to come up with a plan to do anything about them, as well as not communicating a consistent merger message. The UTS survey found people were most worried about loss of local representation from creating larger councils. This came up repeatedly during merger debates but the NSW government ignored it. Instead it held hasty public hearings, sacked councillors, appointed administrators and delayed elections for newly merged councils until September 2017. Prof Sansom says Mr Baird could have considered other ideas, such as having Community Boards at ward level – as happened after the New Zealand council mergers. Larger, merged councils could also have had more councillors and wards, at least as a transition measure to reassure people that effective local representation would be maintained. “There’s this obsession with reducing the number of councillors. A notion that councillors get in the way and it’s going to be better if you have fewer of them,” he says. “The government leapt into mergers without having had that conversation about how to deal with people’s concerns about local representation.” He says: “It’s basic human psychology. You want to try to think of ways of sweetening the pill.” He argues that keeping councillors on during the transition period and appointing a transition manager would also have been the sensible thing to do, as happened with the 2008 Queensland mergers. “Instead: [the government said] we’re going to issue a proclamation and everybody is going to disappear overnight. To me, it’s hard to conceive of a process more likely to get people’s backs up than that.” An independent body and an independent process The ILGRP recommended in its 2013 Revitalising Local Government report that the merger process should be managed by a reconstituted, independent Boundaries Commission – with no current or former state politicians or councillors sitting on it - to increase the public’s faith in the decision making process. The Commission would also periodically review local government boundaries. In fact, says Prof Ryan, residents should also be involved in setting boundaries around ‘communities of interest’. This can involve looking at key factors like how people access services, schools and shopping; commuting patterns and demographic projections, combined with extensive, independent community consultation. “Otherwise the boundaries are not accepted by the community and there are political and administrative impacts for many years to come,” she says. Prof Sansom says the Panel warned the government about taking matters into its own hands in its report. “I’m more than happy to remind your readers that the ILGRP was very definitely of the view that the current legislation and process embodied in it was not going to do the job.” Another key recommendation by the ILGRP was to reduce the direct involvement of the Local Government Minister in the merger process. Local Government NSW describes the Minister as having “unfettered decision-making power” in its 2015 report, Amalgamations: To Merge or Not to Merge? Professor Sansom agrees that there is too much power vested in one person. “The problem with the Local Government Minister’s role in NSW is that it’s all powerful at both ends of the process. “You can’t get anything considered without the minister’s ticking it in the first place and you can’t get anything implemented without the minister ticking it again and having the right to tinker with the recommendations made by the Boundaries Commission. “It just means that the whole process was politicised from go to woe.” Professor Sansom says he cannot understand why politicians would want to place themselves at the centre of such a fraught process. “If you want to overcome the inevitable angst around amalgamations you have got to convince people from day one that you’re fair dinkum about it. “Being transparent and honest, being serious about exploring all the options, not just picking a few arbitrary mergers here and there. Taking councils and communities into your confidence with evidence.” The government wrote the merger proposals submitted to the Boundaries Commission and the Minister had the final say on whether mergers should or should not proceed. Prof Ryan sums it up: “If it is seen as a process of political opportunism by governments to strengthen their own political fortunes it then becomes difficult.” Checklist for state governments pursuing future council mergers
- Be clear and honest about your intentions from the start
- Back them up with sufficient evidence and share this evidence
- Engage closely with communities around what the benefits are to them
- Listen to and act on residents’ concerns
- Be consistent with your reasoning and apply it evenly and fairly
- Build independence into the process, including drawing boundaries, engaging with communities and assessing proposals
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