Courtesy of the Local Government Association of New Zealand (LGNZ), this week I heard outgoing President Lawrence Yule challenge LGNZ members to be more responsive to modern technologies and engagement methods, and to demonstrate more efficiencies – particularly if the sector rejects further amalgamations as the way forward.
He also called on government and the community to recognise that significant infrastructure investment is required, with the only question left unanswered being how it will be paid for – not if, when, or why, only how. Options include higher rates, borrowings, private tolls or government revenue; each has its own positive and negative impacts, but doing nothing also has its own considerable consequences.
At the conclusion of his speech, Mr Yule received a standing ovation from the packed house of 600 delegates at the AGM, a fitting end to nine years in the role.
The conference theme was We Are. LGNZ. Liveable Spaces, Loveable Places. Many topics were covered including economic development, inter-council collaboration, climate change, the role of technology, sustainable development, and urban regeneration via a combination of walking tours, workshops and presentations.
The Three Waters Policy thrust has also been a key initiative of LGNZ over recent months and has enabled a firm focus to be placed on local government’s role in supplying fresh water, managing stormwater and treating waste water. No doubt this will also be a topic of discussion in Hobart this week at the Local Government Association of Tasmania state conference in light of the Tasmanian Government’s seizure of local water assets.
International exposure can teach us many things, however it is always equally surprising how many challenges are shared including managing relationships and funding streams with other levels of government.
Challenges aside, there is much to be celebrated about local government which is why next Tuesday will see the return of the popular National Local Government Twitter Day that showcases the important and diverse work of local government across Australia.
I encourage you to join ALGA, your state or territory local government association, the wider local government sector and the twitter-verse at large in celebrating the work of your local council on August 1 using #YourRatesAtWork. You can also take a look at what other councils are tweeting at the http://yourratesatwork.com.au/ website.
Mayor David O’Loughlin