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Bombshells fail to jolt focus on the future

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday, 10 November 2017.

The Supreme Court handed down a ruling against the validity of the Fraser Coast Regional Council’s past three years’ rating which parts of the media did their level best to turn into a statewide crisis. It isn’t. After a quarter of a century seeing all sorts of weird and unexpected turns of events I’ve learned to take a deep breath, consult the experts and stick to a fundamental truth: the bigger the problem the more certain a solution will be found. We didn’t panic and feed the media machine. We quietly spoke to the 25 largest councils, law firm King & Company, the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and both major political parties. Yesterday we sent out to all councils a succinctly written legal advice from King and Co on the implications of the Supreme Court decision. Please make sure your council reads that circular.

To reiterate, there is no crisis or mad rush. The 28-day appeal period following the Court’s decision has to roll over before any other action can occur. Meanwhile the LGAQ, King & Company and the Department are working together to find a meaningful solution to put to whomever forms government after the November 25 election.

Our Get Real election campaign continued to deliver in spades for our member councils this week.

Our campaign branding extends across multiple channels and platforms, built around a call for the State to ensure the next Queensland Government has real and lasting solutions to the challenges communities face.

The hashtag #GetReal speaks to the real dedication of councils to create better communities – as well as a call to action for whoever forms Government on 25 November to deliver the real support and action our sector needs.

At the halfway point in our campaign, our social media activity has reached roughly 40K across Facebook and Twitter. Our most popular posts have been videos featuring mayors who graciously gave us some time during the recent LGAQ Annual Conference. Mayor of Torres Shire Vonda Malone speaking on the impact of car wrecks in the beautiful Torres Strait is one such video.

Visits, followers and engagement across our social media platforms have increased significantly – a sign our message is cutting through.

Whilst we necessarily focus on the here and now at the LGAQ, we don’t ever take the future for granted. For that reason, this week a number of us flew to Sydney for discussions with the NSW Chief Data Scientist and chief executive of NSW Data Analytics Centre Dr Ian Opperman to gain clues from the ground breaking data operation he heads up. The significant lessons we collected will be applied to LG Sherlock. This week I also spoke to McKinsey Consulting’s Global Partner on Public Sector Reform, Johnathan Dimson, as well as Marek Stepinak, one of our annual conference keynote speakers and McKinsey’s Asia Pacific Digital Lead consultant. The takeaway message from these encounters is that while the LGAQ is on the right path with our Better Councils Better Communities project and LG Sherlock, we can’t take our foot off the accelerator as change is happening at mind boggling speed. The business life cycle of IT innovation is now 10 to 12 weeks. The LGAQ is also teaming up with London Councils (the old Association of London Government) who are starting their own data analytics centre but are six months or so behind us on the journey.

Finally, a big thanks to President Mayor Mark Jamieson and our other ALGA Board Member Mayor Karen Williams, who were accompanied by our advocacy general manager, the redoubtable Ms Sarah Buckler, for their flight across the country to Albany Western Australia for the two day ALGA AGM and National Roads Congress. Gee, our President has covered some country in his first year as President - he has literally been everywhere. This week also marked the completion of Sarah Buckler’s first year heading up the LGAQ’s advocacy in what is her third stint at the Association over 21 years. She has been a marvellous contributor to the Association’s work over the past 12 months and taken our advocacy efforts to even greater heights. Well done, kiddo.

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