In a recent speech to the Regional Australia Institute, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation discussed the government’s Smart Cities policy and the City Deals funding agreements.
A community initiative in Garema Place in Canberra is currently showing how changing public spaces can bring out the best in the city and its people.
Created by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) in collaboration with Street Furniture Australia, the ACT Government and In the City Canberra, the experiment uses a time-lapse video to capture the interactions and activity in the temporary installation. Organisers hope to understand how people use a space in three different scenarios; existing, with the addition of Street Furniture Australia's moveable seats and vibrant elements, and with pop-up activations including outdoor cinema, library and snack cart.
I recently attended SOLGM Conference in Auckland, and found plenty to be inspired by with its theme, Inspiring Leadership. One of the keynote presentations was by Monica Barone, titled City of Sydney ‘Inspiring Sydney’. Especially given this year’s announcement of Australia’s first 3 City Deals, Monica’s perspective has particular relevance.
This is outlined in the policy of Sustainable Sydney 2030 – the policy itself is based on community responses to the question, what do you value? – with its goal of moving the city towards the goals of it being green, global and connected.
The Smart Cities and Suburbs Program was announced by the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, on 18 August this year. Several roundtables with local government representatives have just been completed, and the next stage is local governments submitting a short pitch for their project idea – which makes the story very timely.
Projected to be worth $50 million, the program will support local governments to fast-track innovative technology solutions that improve long-standing urban problems. It seeks to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of urban service delivery, infrastructure and planning to improve the livability of cities and their suburbs.
According to the minister, a wide variety of cutting-edge projects will be supported under the program, such as collaborative design of solutions to complex urban problems, pilots of emerging technologies, the implementation of technologies at scale, and business case development. Perhaps the most valuable projects will be transformative collaborations between multiple councils and technology industry partners that link closely with future plans for the area.
Interestingly, several other countries are introducing Smart Cities programs. Our partner in the USA, ICMA, recently conducted a survey gauging local government priorities and activities regarding Smart Cities.
It is always a pleasure to welcome our new leaders in the Federation. Congratulations to the very experienced Gary Arnold on his new role as President of LG Professionals, Australia, Tasmania!
Gary is the General Manager at Kingborough Council, and is based in Kingston. Although the handover stage is a busy one, Gary took some time out recently to have a quick chat. We look forward to hearing more from him soon.
How long have you been working in local government?
I actually celebrated my twenty first birthday (decades ago!) not long after commencing my first job in local government at the Shire of Melton in Victoria. I’m now in the twilight of my career, still enjoy going to work every day, and still in local government. Local government seems to get into the blood system.
For the second year running, LG Professionals Australia provided a scholarship to send an Indigenous team from the remote Mornington Shire Council to compete in the Rural Management Challenge staged by LGMA Queensland.
The 2016 Rural Management Challenge was hosted by the Tablelands Regional Council on the 6th of October. As well as covering the costs of participation and travel, the scholarship enabled an additional buddy-up day with staff from the Tablelands Regional Council – to pack in as much LG experience and learning as possible.
For anyone thinking that all the action happens in the big cities, I’ve got to say, take a trip to Queensland’s remote Mornington Shire! Or at the very least, take a look at their website. Why? Because the council there are kicking goals around the major themes of community engagement, collaboration with businesses, and working with other levels of government.
And the outcome will be a new jetty and better facilities enabling eco-tourism in the home of the endangered dugong, recreational fishing, some light industry, and economic growth and employment for the local residents.
The contractors barge arrived at the project site on Oct 20. Work begins Oct 21.
The Mornington Shire Marine Precinct works officially commenced today, October 21. Works will be carried out by Giles Construction in partnership with Mornington Shire Council. Stage 1, which follows earlier demolition works this year to remove the old, unsafe jetty structure, is being co-funded by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Translink, MMG Century and Mornington Shire Council. This is a major investment into the region, and a very exciting development, one in which council has been advocating for the past two years.
Auckland City Council ran a fantastic interactive workshop at the SOLGM Summit recently. Here's an interesting article that appeared in the NZ Herald on how the Mayor of Auckland and CEO, Stephen Town share an agenda to turn around the council's performance.
As one presidential term comes to an end, and with another just beginning, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk to Karen Hampton, the outgoing President of LG Professionals Australia, Tasmania about her two years as one of the defining leaders of the LG sector.
What were the major themes during your term?
During my first year as President, the Board was heavily focused on consultation in preparation for a vote by our members on changing our name from LGMA to LG Professionals Australia, Tasmania. We agreed to make the change at that first AGM I chaired as President – so it was an exciting time to be at the helm of the organisation and progress with the rollout of our new name/brand.
LG Professionals Australia President, Andrew Wardlaw spoke at the ICMA International Affiliates Meeting in Kansas, USA at the end of last month.
In his presentation Andrew considered how local governments in Australia are expanding the services they offer in response to community needs and expectations, to support economic growth, social cohesion and community building,
However, the sector is also operating under significant pressures including amalgamations and an infrastructure backlog (estimated at $20 billion). These are exacerbated by state mandated rate-caps – impacting approximately half of councils’ own revenues – and grant freezes.
The other major concern facing Australian local governments is its workforce, including the stark realities:
Leadership positions within local government have traditionally been held by men, however, in Australia, and around the world, a growing number of stereotype-challenging women have been elected to the very visible position of mayor. Others have earned their places as CEOs or heads of departments within their councils. One of the barriers to women taking leadership roles is simply that people assume leaders are men, simply because they see men in leadership roles so often.
Dorothy Thornhill, mayor of Watford in England for the past 14 years, is one of just four directly elected female mayors in England. “People think leadership equals male characteristics,” she says. “The idea that you have to be this macho-type of person is still around.” As mayor, she has played against this type, and laughs about how when she was on a school visit a child shouted out, “You ain’t no mayor! You ain’t a fat bald geezer with a chain!”
Every female leader helps widen the community's perception of what a leader looks like, and how a leader behaves. Cr Samantha Ratnam is Moreland City Council Mayor for the 2015-16 Council year.
It has just been festival time both Nepal – Dashain and Tihar – and Cambodia – Pchchum Ben, which meant many of our mentees returned to their families' village for the celebrations. Mentors enjoyed learning a little about these festivals from their mentees.
Now that everyone is back, we can share a few photos on what our teams have been up to.
Gaurav, from Kathmandu has worked well with mentor Dr Robert Grogan, despite study and travel interruptions. Med student Gaurav is conducting first aid training to help avert some of the problems experienced in last year's earthquakes.
by Anneka Ferguson, Dorset Council – currently on exchange in Coconino County, USA
Australian recipient of the LG Professionals Australia International Professional Exchange Program
I was presented with a Certificate of Recognition for dedicated efforts to serve the Citizens of Tasmania and Coconino County through my involvement in the International City/County Managers Association.
There's a lot happening in Coconino County! It's been a busy couple of weeks, with every day spent meeting new people and hearing how they do things here. One surprise of the trip has been discovering that some challenges are universal, and staff here are grappling with situations that are very familiar. And they are coming up with some great solutions, for example . . . . here's where you click Read More.
With leadership as our 2017 Congress theme, this is an excellent opportunity to introduce you to our board members. The Meeting Our Leaders series will run until May 2017.
Maxine Dowley is a Director on the Board of Local Government Professionals Australia NT.
An event coordinator with the City of Palmerston, Maxine started her LG career in 2001. Interestingly, Maxine competed in the Australasian Management Challenge in Alice Springs in 2013.
'I competed in the Australasian Management Challenge in Alice Springs in 2013. I initially felt out of my comfort zone working on the pre-challenge subject – which I knew very little about. But it made me think strategically and work on building trust with my team members.’
LG Professionals Australia launched our first online engagement campaign a couple of months ago. We wanted to know what you, local government practitioners, wanted to tell the Federal Government. And now, as we take the results of our campaign to Canberra, and film the responses to your questions with the Hon Fiona Nash, Minister for Local Government and Territories, it's also a good time to reflect on what we've learned about online engagement, and how it works with our more traditional forms of reaching out to our community.
While we wait for Fiona Nash's responses, read the blog from our partner, online engagement specialists, OurSay. They have a very practical understanding of what works and what doesn't, when it comes to reaching out and really listening to your community.
** And I'm posting the intro video we used for our campaign here again too .... because it's awesome!
CEO, LG Professionals Australia.