74 – More books to read if you are interested in local government management.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              660 words

Leahy and Greene books

I have previously posted on books every local government manager should read (see here and here). Again I will acknowledge the difficulty in getting people in local government to read and learn especially senior management. My earlier posts started with what I call ‘bread and butter’ reading. This post looks at some more focussed reading on specific aspects of management relevant to local government. Continue reading

53 – Coffee, basketball and privatisation. What significance could they have for Australian local government?

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                                    1000 words

the barista economy

Image from The Age, 11 March 2015

On the 11 March 2015 there were three articles in the Melbourne Age newspaper on different topics that each held a message of potential relevance for local government.

The first was ‘Welcome to the barista economy. The article is based on a speech by Christopher Kent from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) who looked at changes in household expenditure patterns over the past 30 years.

One thing is clear: we are spending a lot more on ‘services’ than we are on ‘stuff’. The share of household spending on services is up from 53 per cent to 65 per cent of household consumption.

The RBA explains the increased spending on services as a result of cheaper goods because of better productivity and more goods coming from ‘emerging economies’. The world has become better at producing goods and people now have more money to buy services, which in effect is buying time. We can afford to employ someone to perform tasks when our time is better spent on other activities, we don’t have the skills, or it improves our quality of life (e.g. leisure).

The barista connection highlights the growth in service industry jobs. Coffee shops are everywhere. Having a coffee has become part of every outing.

I think that the significance for local government is twofold. Continue reading

47 – Core services in local government. What are they?

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              560 words

In an earlier post I discussed local government services and how they can be defined. This post discusses the concept of ‘core’ services delivered by councils, particularly in relation to the potential impact of rate capping (see here, here, here and here). Councils will be looking to reduce the rate of growth in expenditure and many will have to reduce current levels of expenditure. It will not be possible to maintain delivery of all services at current service levels. The starting point is likely to be a discussion about what makes a service a ‘core’ service.

A working definition of a core service is anything the council does that it is compelled to do under legislation. For example, hold elections and form a council, make and enforce local laws, provide a town planning service, control building development, inspect food premises, ensure there is a road to every property. Councils have no choice but to provide these services. Councils also have to prepare some statutory plans, for example the Public Health Plan. The State government has passed legislation to ensure that they do. The council is an authority.

The next category of ‘core’ service are the universal services provided to all citizens. Continue reading