Jump to Content

Report on performance

Outcome 3-Regional Development and Local Government Outputs and Programs

Output 3.2.1-Local government policy and programs

Highlights

In 2007-08, the Department:

  • made payments of $1,765.8 million in Financial Assistance Grants to Australia's local governments, on time and in accordance with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 and its national principles, enabling councils to improve their infrastructure and services;
  • provided supplementary funding of $13.6 million to South Australian councils;
  • issued the local government national report, which reports on the basis for the equitable distribution of the grants between councils;
  • funded plebiscites in Queensland on local government amalgamations;
  • promoted local government's achievements through the National Awards for Local Government;
  • contributed to the improvement of Australia's development assessment systems through electronic development interoperability specifications which prescribe how organisations are to exchange data, for quicker completion of development assessment transactions; and
  • provided advice to the Australian Government on the establishment of the Council of Australian Local Governments.

Overview

Output 3.2.1 is delivered by the Local Government and Regional Development business division. It provides support to local government in the form of financial assistance, such as funding for roads and general purpose grants. In 2007-08, the output provided financial support for plebiscites on local government amalgamations in Queensland.

In 2007-08, Financial Assistance Grants to local government totalled $1,765.8 million. The grants were distributed as follows.

  • some 30 per cent of funding was distributed as an untied local roads component. These funds are allocated between states according to fixed shares, and between local governing bodies within a state on the basis of local road expenditure needs. While the funds are identified for local roads, they can be spent on any local government expenditure priority;
  • about 70 per cent of funding was distributed as general purpose grants. These funds are allocated between states and territories on the basis of population, and between local governing bodies within a state on the basis of relative needs, subject to a minimum grant requirement. Funds are untied and can be spent according to local council priorities; and
  • overall, about 69 per cent ($1,217 million) of the total funding ($1,765.8 million) went to councils in regional and rural Australia, including $31.5 million to Indigenous councils.

To maintain their real per capita value, the grants are indexed each year for changes in population and consumer prices.

In 2007-08, the output administered the following programs:

  • Local Government Financial Assistance Grants;
  • Supplementary funding to South Australian councils for local roads; and
  • Local government amalgamation - plebiscites in Queensland.

Output 3.2.1 corresponds to Output 2.2.2 in the previous outcome and output structure (see Appendix L for a comparison between the current and previous structures).

Table 5.14 summarises the output's performance in 2007-08.

Summary of performance

Table 5.14 Summary of performance - Output 3.2.1 - Local government policy and programs

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Local governments are assisted to serve their communities.

The Department administered funding that assisted local governments across Australia to deliver essential services such as planning and development, community services and infrastructure, including roads. The Department also actively promoted and supported best practice in local government.

In 2007-08, grants averaged approximately 7% of local government revenue overall but provided more than 50% of the revenue of some councils.

In 2007-08, the Department provided advice to the Australian Government in relation to:

  • the establishment of the Council of Australian Local Governments;
  • the findings of the Productivity Commission's report Assessing Local Government Revenue Raising Capacity, which was issued in April 2008;
  • issues considered by the Local Government and Planning Ministers' Council, including the endorsement of financial sustainability principles for local government;
  • the outcome of the plebiscites on Queensland council mergers; and
  • local government amalgamations in Queensland and the Northern Territory and their implications for local government financial assistance grants.
Quality

Grants are allocated and distributed to local governments in line with national principles.

In 2007-08, the Department administered financial assistance grants to Australia's local governments under the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. Payments totalling $1,765.8 million were made in 2007-08, in accordance with national principles which broadly require that the funds be distributed between local governing bodies according to relative need.

The Department administered supplementary funding of $13.6 million to South Australian councils for local roads.

Better practice in local government is recognised and promoted (e.g. through a national awards process).

In 2007-08, the Department promoted local government successes and achievements through:

  • the annual National Awards for Local Government; and
  • the online database of more than 2,000 projects nominated for awards since 1997.

The National Awards for Local Government attracted 287 entries, across 15 categories, including asset management, efficiency, innovation, health and wellbeing and women's participation in local government. Information about the awards was made available on the Department's website.

Local governments are assisted to improve their land use planning and development assessment systems.

In 2007-08, the Department supported the Development Assessment Forum to reform and harmonise Australia's development assessment systems. A key project was to develop the electronic development interoperability specifications which prescribe how organisations are to exchange data to complete development assessment transactions.

More information about the forum is available on its website www.daf.gov.au.

The Department provided advice to the Australian Government representatives on the Local Government and Planning Ministers' Council, and secretariat services to the council.

Quantity

Funding and information are provided to some 700 local governing bodies across Australia.

In 2007-08, information and funding was provided to 612 local governing bodies across Australia, including 72 Indigenous councils. As the Australian Capital Territory has no local government, its share was paid directly to the Australian Capital Territory Government.

Price

$2.6 million

The actual price of this output in 2007-08 was $4.4 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Table 5.15 Trends in local government

  2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08
Financial assistance grants
Local road grants $476m $497m $518m $548m
General purpose grants $1,072m $1,121m $1,170m $1,233m
Supplementary funding for South Australian councils $4m $9m $13m $14m
Total grants $1,552m $1,628m $1,702m $1,794m
Bodies funded 703 701 700 612
Local government awards
Nominations closed July 2004 June 2005 June 2006 May 2007
Nominations received 250 286 215 287
Categories of award 18 16 18 15
Award presented November 2004 November 2005 November 2006 May 2008
Price of output $2.0m $2.5m $2.2m $4.4m

Detailed report on performance

Effectiveness - Output 3.2.1

Performance indicator Results

Local governments are assisted to serve their communities.

In 2007-08, the Department continued to support local governments to serve their communities, by providing financial grants to local government, advising the Australian Government on local government issues, and celebrating and promoting local government's achievements. This included:

  • providing $1,765.8 million in financial assistance grants to local governments to help them improve infrastructure and services to local communities;
  • providing an additional $13.6 million to local governments in South Australia for their local roads;
  • disseminating information through the Local Government National Report and through the Department's website about local government grants and policy issues affecting local government;
  • recognising and promoting best practice in local governments through the Local Government National Awards; and
  • supporting the Local Government and Planning Ministers' Council, which endorsed principles to improve local government's long-term financial sustainability and took steps to lift the efficiency and effectiveness of development approval processes.

Administered programs for Output 3.2.1 - Local government policy and programs

Table 5.16 Summary of performance - Local Government Financial Assistance Grants

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Local governments are assisted to provide essential services at the community level.

The Department worked closely with local government grants commissions in each state and territory to allocate and distribute grants in line with national principles which ensure that grants are distributed on the basis of relative need of councils once a minimum grant requirement is met.

In particular, the Department held discussions with local government grants commissions in Queensland and the Northern Territory, regarding the application of the national amalgamation principle to the distribution of grants to new councils following mergers in those jurisdictions.

Quality

Grants are administered in line with the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Grants Act 1995.

In 2007-08, the Australian Government Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads determined the amount of grant funding to be allocated to each state as required by the Act. The Department administered the payment of grants in line with the requirements of the Act.

An annual report on the operation of the Act is tabled as soon as practicable after 30 June each year.

The 2005-06 Local Government National Report was tabled in September 2007; it can be accessed on the Department's website.

Grants paid quarterly: 15 August, 15 November, 15 February and 15 May.

Grants were paid to states and territories in quarterly instalments on 15 August, 15 November, 15 February and 15 May. The first payment for the Northern Territory was made on 19 August due to a delay in the territory submitting its recommendations for the distribution of funds between local governments.

Quantity

Grants are distributed to some 700 local governments.

Grants were distributed to the 612 local governments on schedule.

Cost

$1,761.2 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $1,780.8 million.

The variance is due to the legislative process for determining the amount of financial assistance grants, which takes place after the budget is published.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

 

Did you know

Australian local governments
Australian local governments are responsible for around $182 billion worth of community assets, including about $80 billion of local roads, more than $50 billion of land and almost $15 billion in buildings. Local government looks after 647,000 kilometres of local roads (80 per cent of the Australian road network). Local governments spend over $3,200 million a year maintaining, renewing and upgrading the network. In 2007-08 the Australian Government provided $548 million in Financial Assistance Grants identified for local roads and $262.5 million under the Roads to Recovery Program to assist councils to fund their local road network, along with $1,235 million in general grants.

Table 5.17 Summary of performance - Supplementary funding to South Australian councils for local roads

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Local governments have equitable access to Australian Government funding for local roads.

To facilitate equitable access to funding for local roads, the Department administered supplementary Australian Government funding for South Australian councils. The 2007-08 Budget allowed for $58 million in funding to be disbursed over four years.

Quality

Grants are distributed in line with the local roads grants component of financial assistance grant.

Grants were distributed in accordance with the distribution of the local roads grants component of the financial assistance grants.

Grants paid quarterly:
15 August, 15 November, 15 February and 15 May.

Grants for 2007-08 were paid quarterly to the South Australian Government on these dates.

Quantity/Location

Supplementary funding is distributed to 74 local governments in South Australia.

Grants were distributed to all 74 councils on schedule.

Cost

$13.6 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $13.6 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Table 5.18 Summary of performance - Local government amalgamation - plebiscites in Queensland

Performance indicators Results
Effectiveness

Funding to Australian Electoral Commission for conduct of plebiscites.

The Government funded the Australian Electoral Commission to carry out the plebiscites in Queensland. There was a 55% voter turnout for communities whose councils chose to take part in the plebiscites.

Quality

Payments made within agreed timelines.

The payments were made on time.

Location

Queensland

The plebiscites were conducted in Queensland.

Cost

$1.5 million

The actual cost of this program in 2007-08 was $1.5 million.

Overall performance Fully achieved.

Note: The performance indicators are from the 2007-08 PAES.

Prev. | Index | Next