Keeping the “local” in Local Government – a population perspective on council amalgamations

Matthew - Team Forecast

Matthew is at the forefront of land, housing and population forecasting in Australia. As the developer of .id’s forecasting models and an author of .id’s e-books, he is a sought-after and entertaining presenter, and an inspiring consultant. He provides comprehensive insights into the migration, housing and land use changes that drive population and age structure change at the neighbourhood level. Matthew has had a profound influence on .id’s thinking about how we understand cities and regions. Matthew is currently heading a team developing micro-geography forecasts for the whole of Australia.

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5 Responses

  1. Colin Mackay says:

    The Victorian government has committed to an integrated catchment management approach. In a general sense this means ecosystem services are managed on a catchment by catchment basis. Cardinia, the largest growth area as I understand it also encompasses what was once the ‘hills’ sub-region a more laconic and rural region than the bustling growth area. catchment management, resource use, in fact all of the distinct demographic and environmental indicators have been lost to the community here since Cardinia, it would seem, incorporated a single demographic model. This is no small loss given the Woori Yallock sub-catchment is the unique home of both Helmeted honey eaters and Leadbeater’s possum. The State’s bird and animal emblems; one endangered the other critically so. While many work to to secure their survival the area seems to be considered by Cardinia insignificant. The Cardinia LGA seperates a small section of of the catchment area from the broader Yarra Valley LGA and make the survival of these species a little less likely. The threat to survival, particularly for the honeyeater, is no doubt impacted by Cardinia shire’s role as overlord to the upper reaches of the catchment. Cardinia oversee, and ahve failed to protect two most decimated creeks in Melbourne’s east. As one of the Councillors said when I raised the issue at a VEAC open forum “I’m very busy with a growth corridor to oversee”. Perhaps it’s time to map LGA’s to geo-physical boundaries and ecosystem services rather than the secondary needs of the populations they support!

    • Matthew Deacon says:

      I think that you are right on the money there, Colin. The boundaries for the Shire of Cardinia are at best odd. The northern area of the Shire is obviously very different to the central corridor or indeed the southern rural section. The northern section of the Shire should probably be with Yarra Ranges on the basis of land use and environmental factors. I would also say that the Lilydale part of Yarra Ranges could be separated or perhaps included as part of Maroondah. Perhaps we are not familiar with the important political deliberations which were used to create the current boundaries! I suppose there are many more examples across Australia.

  2. Skweekah says:

    “It is also hard to argue that Councils are not financially sustainable if you persist on rate-pegging or rate-capping which undermines Councils’ ability to raise revenue to pay for services.”

    This statement goes a long way in explaining LG councils financial positions in a nutshell.

    “In all these reviews, the question must be asked, “Are people prepared to agree to pay higher rates?” to maintain some sense of shared community.”

    I am kind of hesitant to accept that residents will pay any less with larger LGAs.

  3. Fiona van Dort says:

    That’s an interesting reflection on the history and possibilities of amalgamation. From my understanding its purpose is not just about economies of scale, but also includes elevating the influence of local government, with a greater strategic capability to leverage what’s needed from State and Federal levels; Improving the consistency of rules, planning and service delivery standards; and benefitting communities with the ease of dealing with one administration. Some of our councils in NSW are clearly too small to be viable in the long term, and many of the others can do better than they are, yet still retain local democracy. That sense of local identity and representation is all about how you ENGAGE and RESPOND to your community, its not about size, and clearly it can be done well with the right structures and practices in place – eg. Local Boards and a comprehensive practice of community engagement using IAP2 framework. I’d like to read or hear more about the success factors for this despite the council size, examples of Local Boards or other structures. Its too easy to fall back on the usual fears about loss of identity and control, and reapeating the mistakes of the past. Lets look at what’s possible and what’s working well, it may be a better outcome for everyone if its done right.

  4. Vince Maxwell says:

    What I would love to hear about with all this reform discussion is wether Victoria or Queensland residents are seeing any benefit from what must be a significant improvement in the operation of their local councils.
    A lot is promised in WA but no facts or figures are presented – just a promise. The WA Governmnet spent a fortune to get an expert panel report to put a case for amalgamations but after many months and 192 pages they couldn’t utter the words which makes me think they concluded the contrary but it was not within their remit to state this.

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