The Future of Local Government-Local Government in Crisis

Local Government in Crisis was the topic of a summit I attended recently on behalf of the City of Unley in Melbourne.

 

As testimony that local government (worldwide) is in crisis the leaders of the summit sited the election of Donald Trump and Brexit. To build on this a key note speaker spoke of the crisis being faced by the City of London.

 

Curious examples I would have thought. An outsider being elected to the post known as the leader of the free world. A sovereign country leaving the European Union. The London Council, more like a State Parliament here.

Local Government in Crisis

Truthfully Governments, we all know, are in something of a crisis worldwide as evidenced by the examples given above. Does this drill down to local governments is the question to be answered?

 

Councils over in New South Wales it could be argued are in crisis. Theirs’s however is not one of people being disillusioned with them. It is under the pressure of forced amalgamations being imposed by the State Government. The people there indeed are actually fighting their State Government in support of the current Local Government model.

 

And back here in Adelaide the LGA has conducted a survey which has indicated that local government is the most trusted level of government in this state. A far cry from what I was hearing in Melbourne.

 

Local Government to lead the way, not Local Government in Crisis

 

Backed by these last two observations what I do agree coming out of the Summit is that Local Government “can” lead the way to correcting the disillusionment in Government that the Trump, Brexit factor shows exists. So far from the catch cry being local government being in crisis it should be local government to lead the way in healing public government relations.

 

In other words, I agree with the manifesto that came out of the Summit. A manifesto that rests on a belief that the state of the nation and the health of our society depend on community-driven action in the neighbourhood, not just decisions made in parliaments or boardrooms.

 

Put another way, the crisis facing governments worldwide can only be addressed by a localist approach. And that my friends is the strength of Councils similar in size to the City of Unley.

 

 

Unley under attack

Unley under attack is the consistent image out there right now, ever since the the clock turned over to 2016 and for a myriad of reasons.

While we believe we have been working hard to improve the community of Unley others have not seen it this way. They have found reason to attack us it seems daily in the first two months of the year. The attacks have been continuous with little time to come up for air before copping another salvo.

It all started at the arrival of the new year. This was when Eastern Courier Columnist Andrew Faulkner denigrating council over it’s allocating  $2.0 m under “general” in its accounts.  This article insinuated impropriety on our part. My blog of 21 January hopefully put it into context. Abiding by the legislation that governs us has made us to look like we are guilty of something sinister.Unley Paid Parking

This was followed with criticism by the Minister for Transport. While were looking after our rate payers, he has us as being greedy by fleecing and discouraging public transport use against his governments policies.

My blog of 26 February responded to the messages out there at the time. Curiously his diatribe about going behind his back seems focused on only one street. The other street in our trial IS fortunately on council land I am assured and he has not commented on this street.

With little time to breath we then saw local state MP for Unley David Pisoni criticising our 2nd generation tree policy. This is currently out for public consultation. His observations, welcomed as part of the consultation, but which were made in public indicate we are going to decimate our tree population. This is curious as the intent of the policy is to ensure we protect our tree assets by having a targeted replacement program over time rather than wait and find we have to replace most of our trees in a short time frame because they have come to the end of their life around the same time.

Then to finish it off (I hope) West Torrens Mayor John Trainer (a resident of Unley) purportedly has spoken with us about a concern he has with sight lines at one of our intersections (one I suspect he uses regularly) which I am sure we will investigate. It becomes a public claim however (don’t know how) keeping the media pressure on Unley.

Of course in the background to all this and which all this feeds into is the ongoing murmurings of those who would see Local Government removed in favour of the State Government looking after local matters such as which street should be upgraded and which park should have improvements. In my opinion and irrespective of how it may have been reported we are seeing why Local Government should stay.

Can you surely expect the State Government to be as interested as we are in the local community. I think not.

 

 

Federal Government Sabotages Local Government Recognition

The Government may have spelled the demise of the Local Government Recognition in the upcoming referenda by not understanding how the opposition and minor parties weer going to vote on the legislation required to allow the referenda to proceed.

The result, an absolute and unfair disparity between the funding being made available for the yes vs the no votes. The No vote argument is getting very little funding and the press is up in arms. Rightfully so too.

The perception will be and is we are conning you by making sure you only get the yes argument.

Here is the rub. The Government determined they would fund the yes and no vote campaigns based on the vote in the lower house.

Well Guess What!

The vote in favour of the question being put at a referenda was 

                                              

                                                                               Yes      148

                                                                                No         2                       

                                                                               Whoops!

When a no vote actually is changing the status quo

Be aware that a no vote in the upcoming referenda will not maintain the status quo.

Normally a no vote in referenda maintains the status quo but not this time. In every referenda held in this country the item of the referenda is proposing change. Make no mistake ….. not this time.

Federal Governments have been funding Local Government’s directly for a long time, irrespective of political persuasion, Liberal or Labor. It has been a practice that all forms of government have accepted and it has worked well.

As I have said in a recent post the Feds at the end of the day control the majority of the purse strings.

At the upcoming election you will be asked to recognise Local Government in the constitution so that this practice may continue.

So a yes vote will maintain the status quo. A no vote on the other hand may, in light of recent challenges to the high court, mean that this practice will have to cease.

Be very certain of this. If you and your country men & women vote no then what the current practice is may have to cease. This can only mean funding must be transferred via the State Government.

And I simply ask this…..is this what you want?

Referenda Update

Further to my post recently on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government I have been directed by our Mayor, Lachlan Clyne to the official Government website explaining this change.

A call for constitutional change requires a bill of parliament and the website covering the bill for the Local Government Constitutional change sets it out simply and clearly as follows:

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Constitution Alteration (Local
Government) 2013
No. , 2013

A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to recognise local government by stating that the Commonwealth can grant financial assistance to local government, including assistance for community and other services.

The Parliament of Australia, with the approval of the electors, as required by the Constitution, enacts:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

So you can see for yourself go to http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/bills/r5071_first-reps/toc_pdf/13129b01.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22legislation/bills/r5071_first-reps/0000%22

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

So please be wary of those promoting that this is about giving Local Government more power. As I said in my first post on this topic it is about being about to offer grants direct to Local Government and not having to pass it through the State Governments.

Hope this helps.

Controversial Cabinet Re-Shuffle has a twist to it

The focus of Premier Wetherill’s Cabinet Re-shuffle is on his taking on the Treasury portfolio but wait…..there’s more!
 

But in correspondence to us he has indicated he will also take on the Public Sector portfolio. He has advised he wants to work with us to make the changes needed to improve the services we offer the community.
I wonder what he has in mind and how much time he can devote to it.
Watch this space is all I can say!