FNQROC Update - August 2013

Riverina Eastern ROC (REROC)

Scrap Metal

Initially some member Councils had received minimal monetary amounts for their scrap metal while others were paying for it to be removed.  Through a joint tender in their first year each Council received $40 per tonne.  Over the years and with each tender this has climbed as high as $250 per tonne.  Hopefully we will be able to do the same.

A Procurement Killer

Julie Briggs, EO, advised that of all the procurement activities REROC had undertaken, guideposts nearly sent her over the edge (I know the feeling!)  Steve has been advised accordingly.

www.yours2take.com.au

This is a website for the community to list stuff they are happy to give away rather than send to landfill.

Build a bridge and get over it

Program to attract kids to civil engineering. They take 24 kids per year on a camp for a couple of days and do all things civil.

Senator Barnaby Joyce

a. Wants to extend R2R and add a similar program for Bridges to Recovery.  He questions how this can be done without constitutional recognition.

b. Will still have FAGs etc but is fighting not to have cuts.

c. Health and Defence are the primary priorities in the budget, with everything else under this.

d. He identified a number of alternative ways to attract funding:

  • Super funds have the money we need, make your asset attractive to invest in.
  • New York – municipal bond scheme, bonds for 30 years – effectively cheaper interest.  An imperfect solution but an alternative solution given the federal debt.

e. Question: National Parks are unrateable and the Federal Government is purchasing or not renewing leases and turning the land into National Parks. This is having an impact on Councils' revenue (in one case recently it was a 5% impact).  Answer: Acknowledged (but no resolution to the issue was given).

f. Question: R2R was $750 million 10 years ago and is still today $750 million.  With indexing this is effectively a cut in funding.  Answer: Yes, we should index but they are still finalising the policy.  He also asked, if they drive funds in that direction, where do they take it from?

Hunter Councils

Roger Stephan, CEO, spoke about Hunter Councils (which is a beast!!)  They operate as two. Hunter Council of Mayors and Hunter Ltd.  Hunter Ltd is the business arm of the organisation and being Ltd, they operate under Commonwealth legislation not State.

One particular offering which caught the eye of one of our CEO's was Legal Services. They have 'in-house' legal services for Local Government. They initially started with one lawyer and now have three.

Karen Andrews, MP

Interestingly, she advised Gold Coast has been funded for a FIFO coordinator. The reasoning was high unemployment rate, tourism downturn and high Australian dollar (doesn't sound too dissimilar to us).

Ron Palmer, President, Local Government Automation Society, Dallas, Texas USA

Ron splits his time between Texas and mines in Australia.  He spoke about Councils adversity to automation of processes.  On a side note, he also spoke about using the resources of your people to solve issues you would generally get consultants in to do. He grew professionally within the mining industry by simply collecting the beer coasters at the pub and putting forward ideas for improvement based on these which were accepted and implemented. One council he worked with on WH&S he got all the workers together (approximately 300) for a breakfast and handed out beer coasters.  He asked them to write down three things which could be done to improve WH&S in their work environment to receive a bacon and egg roll.  As a result they received 280 ideas to consider.  He asked "How much would that have cost if you had bought in a Consultant?" The staff also felt engaged and included as they saw their ideas implemented.

Calibrating Pavement Deterioration

Ashish Shay & Greg Kelly (Logan City Council and Griffith University) spoke about the research work they had been doing through funding by the Roads Alliance to calibrate pavement deterioration.  In talking with Greg after the conference, there is certainly the opportunity for some research work to be undertaken up here.  I have given this one to Scott to follow up on.