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Part 2: Performance Report (page 4)

Outcome 1

Program 1.2 Local Government

The department works with state, territory and local governments to build local government capacity and performance and to fund community infrastructure.

Table 10 summarises the department's performance against its key performance indicators for 2012–13. The department met all the key performance indicators, with the exception of the partially achieved Financial Assistance Grants program review, which is being conducted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and is expected to be completed in late 2013.

Image: Aerial view of the Townsville skyline with a Council gathering overlooking a scenic lookout.

Townsville City Council's Citysolar Program won the Regional Collaborations category at the 2013 National Awards for Local Government. (Photo courtesy of Townsville City Council.)

Table 10: Program 1.2: Local government—performance results

Table 10: Program 1.2: Local government—performance results
  • Progress constitutional recognition of local government, subject to Government decision.
  • Facilitate Commonwealth and local government engagement on continued reform in the local government sector.
  • Support enhanced prioritisation of, and financing options for, local infrastructure.
  • Oversee implementation of Local Government Reform Fund to improve the asset and financial management capabilities of councils around Australia.
  • Build capacity in local government, including through the ongoing operation of the Centre of Excellence for Local Government.
  • Administer the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995.
  • Deliver supplementary funding to South Australian councils for local roads.
  • Review the Financial Assistance Grants program in conjunction with state, territory and local governments.
Key performance indicators Resultsa
  • Financial Assistance Grants program review conducted.
Partially achieved

The program review is being conducted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission to schedule, and a final report is due in December 2013.
  • Outcomes of the local government infrastructure financing review considered by Government and implemented as appropriate.
Partially achieved

As part of the review, two reports were commissioned and released during the year: Stronger Foundations for Sustainable Local Infrastructure and National Financing Authority for Local Government.

The joint COAG Regional Australia Standing Council/Local Government Ministers Forum (LGMF) considered the outcomes of the local government infrastructure financing review at its meeting in April 2013.

Members of the LGMF agreed to work together to address the impediments to investment in local government infrastructure, including through debt capacity and options for innovative funding models.
  • Initiatives to support the Government's agenda and build capacity in local governments to meet new and/or emerging challenges are developed and implemented including constitutional recognition of local government subject to Government decision.

The department funded a range of initiatives through the Local Government Reform Fund to build capacity in local government. The department also continued to support the Australian Centre for Excellence in Local Government in its role to build the capacity of local governments. The department worked with a range of stakeholders to identify and address contemporary issues and emerging challenges for local government. In May 2013, the department established a taskforce to plan for a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government. Work of the taskforce included developing a national civics campaign and working with the Australian Local Government Association and the Australian Electoral Commission to prepare materials.

2011–12 result: Achievedb
  • Participation in National Awards for Local Government is high and used as a tool for promoting innovation and best practice service delivery.

The awards continued to promote innovative and best practice policies across local government. The National Awards for Local Government were held at Parliament House on 16 June 2013, along with a meeting of the Australian Council of Local Government. Participation in the awards remained strong. They are nationally recognised as the peak award to recognise best practice in local government.

2011–12 result: Achieved

a Trend information provided where available.

b The wording of this key performance indicator was updated in the 2012–13 Portfolio Budget Statements. In 2011–12, it read ‘Process for a referendum on constitutional recognition of local government agreed’.

Major achievements

National Awards for Local Government

The National Awards for Local Government recognise, reward and promote the innovative work of local governments across Australia. The 2013 awards program showcased the unique local solutions to common issues across a variety of categories from the arts, road safety and reconciliation to diversity and youth engagement.

Ten categories were offered in the 2013 awards program and 192 entries were received from 145 councils across Australia. The category judging panels selected 16 winners, from which the national judging panel selected the two national winners: Safer Motorcycle Routes, a joint project of the Dungog Shire Council, Maitland City Council and Port Stephens Council in New South Wales and the Monash Steps/Stawell Steps project of the Northern Grampians Shire Council in Victoria.

The awards were presented in Canberra on 16 June 2013. The category awards were presented by representatives from the Australian Government departments sponsoring the awards while the national awards were presented by the Prime Minister at the Australian Council of Local Government dinner.

Local Government Reform Fund

The department administers the Local Government Reform Fund, which was introduced in 2009 to improve the asset and financial management capabilities of councils around Australia. Under the fund, each state and territory government identifies priority projects that would most benefit their local governments.

Projects completed during 2012–13 included:

  • An integrated strategic planning reform project for Western Australian local governments
  • Improved asset and financial management practices for councils in South Australia
  • Refined data collection, analysis, and reporting policies to enable better asset and financial management planning in the Northern Territory.

Progress was made on three other projects in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. Payments totalling $1.88 million were advanced in 2012–13. In addition, $100,000 was provided to support scholarships under the Australia and New Zealand School of Government's local government programs.

Financial Assistance Grants

The Australian Government provides Financial Assistance Grants to local governments under the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. These grants account for around 7 per cent of all local government revenue. They are particularly important for regional and remote councils, for whom the grants may account for up to 50 per cent of revenue and sustain the viability of services to communities.

Financial Assistance Grants seek to improve local governments' capacity to provide their communities with an equitable level of services and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of local government.

In 2012–13, the department delivered $2.16 billion in cash payments to local governments through Financial Assistance Grants. This included an accelerated payment of two quarters of the 2013–14 entitlement.

Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government was established in 2009 with an $8 million grant from the Australian Government to improve the capacity and performance of local government.

Every year the centre designs and delivers a range of research and education projects that increase the knowledge base of Australian local government to inform key policy debates and build skills and capacity in the sector. The department's focus on local government capacity and skills development is delivered through the centre's work.

In 2012–13, the centre's publications included two briefing notes: The importance of the local government workforce to Australia and Strengthening local government revenues and availability and use of debt by local governments.

Projects included developing the draft national local government workforce strategy and launching the online database of rural-remote and Indigenous local government community engagement resources. The centre also continued to run the Excellence in Local Government Leadership Program.

Local government infrastructure financing

All levels of government have been working together to find innovative ways to finance new infrastructure and to tap into the resources of the private sector.

In 2012–13 the Australian Government commissioned two reviews to look at ways to better address the infrastructure funding gap in local governments.

The reviews examined the underlying causes of the gap, which include the increasing demand on local government infrastructure as a result of population growth and the increasing diversification of local governments' role and services.

They also considered how councils can improve access to finance. The reviews recommended the establishment of a national financing authority to address the infrastructure funding gap.

The Australian Government, along with state, territory and local government colleagues, investigated establishing a national financing authority and is continuing to address the impediments to investment in local government infrastructure.

Constitutional recognition of local government

The government announced on 9 May 2013 its intention to conduct a referendum on the recognition of local government in the constitution. The department supported the independent expert panel led by the Hon James Spigelman AC QC and provided input to Parliament's Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government. It also consulted with a range of stakeholders on behalf of the government to seek views on the proposed referendum and managed and led the work for the proposed referendum.

Image:  Two indigenous people using an ipad to record a story, overlooking a coastal inlet.

East Arnhem Shire Council In the Northern Territory won the Active Arts award for small councils for its iStories digital arts project at the 2013 National Awards for Local Government.

Rewarding Organisational Excellence

Secretary's Merit Awards

The inaugural Secretary's Merit Awards were presented on 4 April 2013. The awards recognised 14 individuals, listed below, and four teams who contributed to the six organisational strategies in the department's strategic plan.

Individual award winners

  • Glenn Barry
  • Eve Cullen
  • Margaret Lopez
  • Sarah Vandenbroek
  • Sally Basser
  • Alison Diamond
  • Rob Perrin
  • Claudia Woolfe
  • John Borojevic
  • Jane Heffernan
  • Rebecca Smith
  • Danielle Wuttke
  • Steve Clay
  • Bruce Howlett

Team award winners

  • 2012–13 Regional Ministerial Budget Statement Team
  • Australia Council Review Team
  • Events Team, Regional Development Programs
  • Team working on the myregion website
Image:  Secretarys award winner Sarah Vandenbroek being presented with her award from Ms Glenys Beauchamp PSM.
Sarah Vandenbroek (right) at the presentation of her Secretarys award for the successful delivery of key Australian Government commitments to sports infrastructure and grassroots participation.

Sarah Vandenbroek (right) at the presentation of her Secretary's award for the successful delivery of key Australian Government commitments to sports infrastructure and grassroots participation.

Celebrating Community Innovation

National Awards for Local Government

Two very different projects were given the highest recognition this year in the department's National Awards for Local Government. The two winning projects were selected from 192 entries for the awards which recognise identification of local challenges and creation of solutions appropriate to local communities. The awards program is an important extension of the department's work in supporting a strong and progressive local government sector. The awards celebrate the high-quality and innovative work undertaken by local governments across Australia, and pay tribute to their continuous improvement in business practices and service delivery.

Rethinking motorbike safety

Three New South Wales councils won the 2013 National Award for Excellence for a collaborative project to improve the safety of motorcyclists in the Hunter Valley region. Dungog Shire, Maitland City and Port Stephens councils worked with a range of motorcyclist and roads organisations to rethink their road signs and road development. The councils conducted a motorcycle danger audit, developed an integrated warning and advisory road sign plan and provided police enforcement bays to target speeding. Thanks to the sharing of resources and information across stakeholders, the successful project not only made roads safer, it broadened awareness of motorcycle riders' needs and provided pedestrians with greater protection.

Ready for future floods

The National Award for Excellence for small councils with fewer than 15,000 rateable properties was awarded to Northern Grampians Shire Council in western Victoria for a flood mitigation project. After major flood damage in 2011, the council designed a structure to reduce the risk of future flood damage, while at the same time creating new community recreational infrastructure. The Monash Steps / Stawell Steps project built two flood spillways that present as a large-scale architectural feature to create different textures, layers and levels on which the community can enjoy relaxing, picnicking and fishing. The project showed what can be achieved when a community works together and is thinking innovatively. Architecture students designed and built the structure with the hands-on expertise of local retired tradesmen and Council staff.

Category winners

As well as the overall winners, there were winners in the 10 categories, 145 councils having entered in this twenty-seventh year of the awards. Information on all winners is available at: www.regional.gov.au/local/awards

Image: Two council employees preparing bricks as part of the construction of the Monash/ Stawell steps projects.
The Monash Steps / Stawell Steps was a winning project for the Northern Grampians Shire Council at the 2013 National Awards for Local Government. (Photo courtesy of the Northern Grampians Shire Council.)

The Monash Steps / Stawell Steps was a winning project for the Northern Grampians Shire Council at the 2013 National Awards for Local Government. (Photo courtesy of the Northern Grampians Shire Council.)

Outcome 2

Program 2.1 Services to Territories

The department administers the Territories of the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands and Jervis Bay Territory, and manages national interests in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island.

Administration in the self-governing territories focuses on promoting economic development, fostering effective self-governance and constitutional development consistent with the national interest. Administration of the non-self-governing territories focuses on developing legislation and policy, delivering state and local government-type services and managing a capital works program to maintain or modernise infrastructure for which the Australian Government is responsible.

Table 11 summarises the department's performance against its key performance indicators for 2012–13. The department fully achieved all but one of its key performance indicators under Outcome 2. Performance indicators relating to governance reforms and provision of essential infrastructure were partially achieved.

Image: Showing the Nui Nui Port facility on Christmas Island, taken from a barge. The port facility and crane is  in the right-hand side of the shot, overlooking medium-sized cliffs.

The Nui Nui Port Facility on Christmas Island, May 2013. (Photo courtesy of Lloyd Honeycomb.)

Table 11: Program 2.1: Services to territories—performance results

Table 11: Program 2.1: Services to territories—performance results
  • Community services, infrastructure and legal frameworks and processes in the territories are equivalent to comparable mainland communities.
  • Social and economic links to the wider Australian community are strengthened.
  • Reforms to promote long term financial sustainability and improved governance are progressed on Norfolk Island.
  • Essential infrastructure in the Indian Ocean Territories is maintained and upgraded in line with the capital management plan.
Key performance indicators Resultsa
  • Legislative and legal frameworks are in place in the territories that provide the same rights and protections enjoyed by the rest of Australia.

Non-self-governing territories

The department has continued to manage the legal frameworks within the non-self-governing territories, and will develop new legislation to ensure the rights and protections of territories' residents are comparable to equivalent state communities.

Self-governing territories

In March 2013, amendments were made to the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 to support governance reforms for the ACT Legislative Assembly.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • State-type services are delivered efficiently and effectively to residents of the non self-governing territories.

State-type services (including health, education and major roads) were delivered to the residents of the territories to the same standard delivered in similarly remote mainland communities.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • Essential infrastructure meets the needs of communities, border protection and other national strategic priorities.
Partially Achieved

The department is providing public infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, ports and airports for residents of the non-self-governing territories.

Construction of a hospital extension is underway on Christmas Island to enhance community health services. The new housing program on Christmas Island will alleviate some of the pressure on the Christmas Island rental market. The reseal of the airport runway at Cocos (Keeling) Islands was completed, extending the operational life of the runway and allowing for regular public transport services through Virgin Airlines and air cargo by Toll.

Other projects to deliver essential infrastructure are in planning or budgeting processes.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • Grant funding is targeted, supported by the community and fully utilised.

Non-self-governing territories

Grant programs targeted community needs for economic and social development and provided services and activities to meet the needs of territories' residents. Funds were fully utilised.

Self-governing territories

The department administered two agreements with the ACT Government which provided funding towards three Centenary of Canberra projects. All 2013–13 funding obligations were met.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • Inter-governmental agreements meet value-for-money criteria and deliver the required level of services to the territories.

The department continues to review and monitor all current agreements to ensure they meet value-for-money criteria and deliver high levels of service provision to the territories.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • The Territories Law Reform Act 2010 is implemented to provide a sustainable financial governance and accountability framework for Norfolk Island.
Partially Achieved

Norfolk Island's Ombudsman Act 2012 recieved royal assent during 2012–13, providing the Commonwealth Ombudsman with the power to provide services on Norfolk Island. At 30 June 2013 the delivery of services is being negotiated.

Reforms to Norfolk Island's electoral system are on track to be finalised before the next Norfolk Island election in 2016.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • Long term financial and governance reform for Norfolk Island is achieved through constructive partnerships with the Norfolk Island Government and the community.
Partially Achieved

Initiatives in the 2012–13 funding agreement are a first step to opening up the Norfolk Island economy. Critical advances were made in reducing barriers to economic development, such as removing immigration restrictions on Australians.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • Sustainable economic, environmental and social policies are progressively implemented in the Indian Ocean Territories.

The department continued to develop and implement policies for the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT), including a range of governance reforms which will have economic, environmental and social benefits for the IOT communities.

2011–12 result: Achieved
  • The roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the Australian Capital Territory Government in the national capital are clarified.

The Commonwealth, in consultation with the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government, continues to work to deliver agreed actions and to clarify mutual roles and responsibilities.

2011–12 result: Achieved

a Trend information provided where available.

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