Transcript Slide 1

The Importance of Change:
What’s in it for Local
Government and Communities?
Dr Bligh Grant
UNE Centre for Local Government
Change? Potentially, lots of it in NSW Local
Government Sector
At least 5 major review processes:
1. ‘Destination 2036’ Consultative Reform Process;
2. Local Government Acts Taskforce to ‘rewrite’ the
1993 Local Government Act (NSW) and the
1988 City of Sydney Act;
3. Independent Local Government Review Panel;
4. NSW Planning System Review +Green Paper
5. NSW Auditor General’s Monitoring Local
Government Report
 All of these potential changes are imposed
UPON local government, rather than being
initiated BY individual local governments;
 Australian local government is generally treated
as expedient (or instrumental) rather than
political (or ethical) in its own right (historically
understandable – see A.J. Brown [2008]!!);
 Even claims about local democracy (‘local voice’
+ ‘local choice’) are grounded in the allocation of
preferences, rather than being about politics,
properly conceived.
‘Place-shaping’ + ‘Localism’ as Political Ideologies
Internationally (U.K., derived from the U.S.A.)
big push for ‘identity’ or ‘ideational’ politics based
on place to be a part of local governance, LED
BY local governments (larger, fiscally
empowered local governments) with
Strong leadership and
Devolution of authority to LGs.
Easy to be cynical about this (devolution of
authority = cost shifting).
However: Potential has been demonstrated in
case studies (as I hope to show...).
Legislative basis for ‘place-shaping’ in Australia
 ALG are ‘creatures of statute’ and as such subject to
arbitrary reconfiguration + oversight;
 HOWEVER: LGB in ALL Australian jurisdictions are
now required to produce Community Strategic
Plans (i.e.: 10+ year ‘visions’) as an element to
complex, inter-jurisdictional planning ‘webs’ (Grant,
Dollery + Kortt, 2011);
 Interesting inter-jurisdictional comparisons
(‘institutional mimesis’, or COPYING);
 Again, room to be cynical about this (how much
planning is too much?; ‘Tyranny of Community’?)
Case Study: City of Greater Geraldton, WA
 One of 7 finalists for the Reinhard Mohn Prize (award
offered by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German
philanthropic organisation. ‘Geraldton 2029 and
Beyond’ for ‘Vitalising Democracy through
Participation’ (157 entries).
 Initially, Bligh was EXTREMELY SKEPTICAL about
this project:
 Had all the hallmarks of an expensive, outsourced
community plan;
 International consultants employed (e.g.: Charles Landry,
author of The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators
 What does creativity have to do with a mining boom??
City of Greater Geraldton, WA
1. Spatial + Socio-economic Characteristics
 Result of two consecutive AMALGAMATIONS:
 City of Geraldton and the Shire of Greenough in 2007;
 City of Geraldton-Greenough with the Shire of Mullewa
 City of Greater Geraldton in July 2011 – i.e.: ANTIIDENTITY FORCES
 Significant Economic Growth due to mining boom,
 mean taxable income increased by 14.6% in GeraldtonGreenough and by almost 40% in Mullewa (ABS,
 Private sector homes increased by 44.5% in GeraldtonGreenough and a recorded $180,000 or an increase of a
factor of 6 in Mullewa (ABS, 2009/10).
 Worried about social problems a la The Pilbara
2. Legislative Framework: Fabricating
The information required, processes and outputs of Strategic Community Plan development are detailed below
What do I have to gather?
What do I do?
What do I end up with?
Identified community well-being issues
Community engagement – stakeholders,
Identified social inclusion issues
Community long term visioning and
priority setting
Internal strategy and research on
emerging trends
Strategy and research of trends and long
term impacts
Demographics State/National legislation
or policy
Review and understand the
interdependencies between community
planning, services, assets and land-use
Strategic Community Plan (10+ years)
- Priorities
- Objectives
- Strategies
- Assessment.
Identified services expectations
Identified asset expectations
Identified land use expectations
Identification of how we know the
plan is succeeding
Informing strategies.
Known State/National events that may
Local area/place planning information
Local area/place-planning processes
Quadruple bottom-line analysis: Social,
Economic, Environmental, Civic
Changing external factors such as global
Review and understand broad resource
events that may impact on WA/community implications of Strategic Community Plan
Strategic community plan reviews
3. Community Engagement in Geraldton
14 other government agencies + members of
‘community’ + media (local paper) + consultants;
 Community Champions’ running ‘World Cafes’
 Deliberative Survey Poll
 Online deliberation with the City Staff and Community
 Participatory Budgeting – Preliminary Phase
 Youth Online Involvement
 21st Century Town Hall Meeting
 Alignment of the Strategic Plan and the Budget
 Community Champions – ‘Open Space Technology’ training
for facilitation
4. Strategic Directions (x 10) and Recommendations
1. Welcome and facilitate all sectors of the Community to
participate in the City’s cultural life, e.g.: Develop an ‘Ageing
Together’ plan;
• 2. Deliver access to facilities to support those living in, visiting
and working in a creative City, e.g.: Develop an Art Civic
Studio for families
• 3. Promote the City of Geraldton-Greenough as a ‘City for the
Arts’ and as a Regional recreational hub, e.g.: Develop and
stage a ‘Windfest’ to celebrate and promote Geraldton’s
unique landscape and lifestyle
• 4. Diversify the economy, e.g.: Develop a Technology Park
Strategic Directions + Recommendations
• 5. Protect Geraldton-Greenough’s distinctive physical
character ... Heritage ... and identity, e.g.: engage community
members on the planning and design teams for recreational
and public spaces
• 6. Attract investment by creating live/work zones for artists,
e.g.: encourage the development of affordable housing and
live/work space for artists and curators
• 7. Stimulate trade through cultural tourism, e.g.: develop an
Indigenous Cultural Tourist Centre
• 8. Attract, facilitate and maximise the benefits of major City
events and festivals, e.g.: bid for Australian Travel Writers
Association (ASTW) AGM
Strategic Directions + Recommendations
• 9. Engage Youth, e.g.: develop a Youth Media Organisation
• 10. Connect Creative Rural Communities, e.g.: employ a
Rural Community Development Officer who is based rurally
who works in collaboration with the other CDOs and in
partnership with regional stakeholders
Critical Reflections
1. Feels very much like a wish list;
2. Actual outcomes still to be assessed;
3. Significant transaction costs AND opportunity costs
4. ‘Dialectic of community engagement’ and ‘tyranny
of community’ still represent forceful arguments;
5. ‘Place-shaping’ in this sense is not an egalitarian
model of reform
• Bell and Hindmoor (2008, 139):
– ‘best case’ scenario for CE, where ‘such consultation becomes an
on-going dialogue involving mutual learning and accommodation’, is
precisely that: a best-case scenario.
• Alternatively:
– ‘at its worst, CE is tokenistic and creates a sense of betrayal when
communities believe that their views have been ignored’.
– City of Greater Geraldton’s CE process will, in all probability, fall
between these two extremes.
– Nevertheless, at its most immediate, the process presented here
suggests that community engagement can do much to engendering
regionalism from the local level.