21st Century Councils

The Issue

As the level of government closest to communities, councils are place shapers who drive most people’s attachment to, and satisfaction with, the area in which they live. Councils play a defining role in fostering communities, where people and place are deeply connected to the work which Local Government does.

The role of councils has changed significantly over the years, along with community expectations of what services a council should provide. Once focused on ‘services to property’, councils have transitioned to providing a broader range of ‘services to people’. Recently, Tasmanian councils have been placed under external pressure to reform. The spotlight is focused on how Local Government can maintain contemporary service delivery to communities while also addressing current as well as the emergent challenges of the future.

We know that the benefits associated with Local Government reform can be grouped into one of three categories:

  • Economies of scale – maximising the use of resources and/or services at the least cost;
  • Economies of scope – creating a wider range/higher quality of services/resources; and
  • Strategic capacity – having the skills and resources needed to act as high capacity organisations that manage complex and sometimes unexpected change.

Did you Know?

Community Satisfaction

When asked “what is the best thing about your council” in the 2019 LGAT Community Satisfaction Survey, respondents most nominated their Council being responsive, proactive, engaged, accessible, and consultative.

A Wide Range of Services

In addition to traditional services such as waste management, stormwater, roads and footpaths, other council services most valued by communities include museums, galleries, public art, community events and festivals, parks, gardens, playgrounds, green waste and recycling.

A Fairer Share is Needed

Nationally, Local Government is responsible for 33% of community infrastructure, including 75% of roads by length, but they only directly raise 3.4% of Australia’s total taxation revenue. More funding is required to better match service responsibility.

How LGAT is advocating for our Members

With LGAT, Tasmanian councils have initiated a project known as ‘21st Century Councils; to lead the reform of our sector, starting with addressing some key questions:

  • What are the current issues/weaknesses in how we deliver Local Government services?
  • How could we address these?
  • What outcomes do we need to achieve?
  • What reforms could or should happen to achieve those outcomes?

To work towards addressing these questions, LGAT has:

  • Reviewed the history of Local Government reform and what we can learn from it - view here.
  • Run a series of ‘roundtable conversations' with the Local Government sector - view Engagement Report here
  • Interviewed key external stakeholders

Next Steps

Now that we have defined the key outcomes, LGAT will work in partnership with council, key stakeholders and the State government to determine how best achieve them.