Community feedback

NEW Download the LGAT response.

NEW Download the mailed in responses — Part V

Download the mailed in responses — Part IV

Download the mailed in responses — Part III

Download the mailed in responses — Part II

Download the mailed in responses — Part I

NEW Download the email feedback from October 3 to October 12 2011

Download the email feedback from September 26 to Octoberv3 2011

Download the email Feedback from September 20-25 2011

Download the email Feedback from September 9-19 2011 received by the Independent Panel.

Download the email Feedback September 2-9 2011 received by the Independent Panel.

Download the email Feedback to September 2 2011 that has been received by the Independent Panel.

More feedback is found in the comments under each option below.

Have your say. Write to GPO Box 503, Hobart 7001 or Email the Panel

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Wise September 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I would like to begin by emphasising that the following is my own personal view, not that of my employer, or groups, committees in which I participate. However it is prefaced by 36 years experience within the state and local government.

The STCA is to be commended on having the foresight in pre empting this debate, driving rather than being reactionary to outside influences.

In the past 25 years local government has been subject to forced amalgamations, intervention in planning, and the more recent water and sewer reforms. Suffice to say, there are lessons to be learned from each of these reforms.

Before commenting on the 4 proposals being presented I would offer the following. There may have been discussions debates that we, the general public, are not privy to, which cuts to the core of any proposal.

On the surface it appears that the primary driver for change is economic sustainability. But this opens the question, sustainability to do what? Or to put it more bluntly, what is local government? What services will council’s deliver into the future?

It appears that post water and sewer reform, councils are faced with 2 challenges. One being economic, with the loss of this revenue stream, the second is one of identity, dealing with a transition from infrastructure service organisations, roads water and rubbish, towards community services.

The loss, or take up of new services is nothing new. In the past Hobart has been responsible for a slaughter house, tramways, gas, and at one time a police force.

What is clear is that local government is a continual evolving entity, driven by the needs and aspirations of its community. In essence local government is about doing. Doing what its community requires to deliver and sustain their environment.

Which brings us to one of the key points out of the community survey.

The loss of identity. Irrespective of whatever model local government evolves into, if it fails to be responsive to the varying communities, then it will cease to be “Local Government”.

Interestingly, all of the options proposed are either a continuum of the status quo in respect to the fundamental structure, One elected body, one supporting bureaucracy.

Acknowledging that option one does nothing but formalises another tier. So the question comes to mind, were other options considered?

For example, shared services have been put on the table, also the single mega council option. By your own admission shared services rarely work, but what if the 12 councils remained, supported by a single bureaucracy?

Whilst on the subject of shared services, I find the paper on Asset Management interesting, particularly as it takes a service in isolation.

It is undeniable that there are savings to be made is standardisation, sharing of services and expertise, having a single asset management system. But in an operational sense asset management does not run in isolation. It is dependant upon other systems, finance, GIS, Customer requests to name 3.

Similarly other council business outcomes are dependant on asset management. For example a section 337 certificate. Tracing the information requirements to answer a section 337 certificate is a worthwhile exercise as it demonstrates the inter related nature of council business processes and information systems.

Continuing on shared services, what is its definition, or context in this debate? Is it services such as pay role, HR, backbone IT, or are we entering into a shared expertise arrangement?

I ask these questions as one of the key differential currently between councils is the in house capabilities. For example within the GIS sphere, it is recognised that the level of in house expertise and understanding is on a sliding scale from the larger to the smaller councils. The lowest denominator being next to nothing.

The due diligence undertaken for the for the water and sewer reform, at least the parts and I was involved in, and the information provided, focused on legal and financial aspects of the business.

Not the business outcomes, processes and information requirements to deliver those outcomes. The points I’m making, when reform occurs it is backed by a clear transitional plan that provides for all aspects of the business.

Much is made of the identified savings, $100M, but what of the transitional costs? Have they been identified for each option? How will they be financed? And let’s not mince words, this will be job losses of what, 200- 250 positions.

Given the economic position of the state can we afford to add this number to the dole cues? Or can you identify which sectors will pick up this resource, and in what time frames? And then the question of redundancies, and where would they be funded?

I must admit that I found almost humorous the concept that Council’s would divest service provision to, or enter into partnership with the state government, particularly given the current fiscal position of the state government, their cut and burn approach to saving, and a history of handing responsibility for services delivery to local government.

I’m not saying that what is suggested wont work, just pointing out that it a complete cultural change at 2 tiers of government.

Notwithstanding the above, I am pro reform, and support a reduction in the number of councils, which is inevitable.

Of the options proposed — whilst I believe that long term the mega council will provide more benefits the political ramifications may be its downfall.

That in the current climate either option 3 or 4 is preferable, but with a continuum and expansion of the STCA as resource and lobby group for regional issues, and as a conduit or the sharing of knowledge and resources.

But the transition must be within a plan that clearly defines “Local Government” the services being provided, how and by what mechanisms.

Not just legislative change and fiscal arrangements.

PS. Where does the LGAT fit, what is their role, what should be their role?

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Tom Brown September 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Just what community does this feedback process propose to represent? Many of the submissions begin by thanking wholeheartedly the STCA for allowing them to comment, this suggests an older demographic not familar with online forums and blogging. There has also been feedback by the STCA supplied to the media, waxing lyrical about the length and detail in many submissions, also suggesting an older demographic with a lot of time on their hands. I would suggest the online comments on the Mercury website (following merger stories)give a much more realistic feeling of community sentiment on the issue. Most importantly this feedback is instant, to the point and supplied by younger people who will actually be dealing with any changes in the long term. Two hundred retirees do not represent our entire community.

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