Local Government Association-conference Albury

Here are some facts,  I thought you might be interested in:

In NSW there are 152 local councils.

The Local Government Conference in Albury listed attendees as 350.

Including staff we sent 8 people… 7 councillors (+Partners in some instances) and the GM or rep.

I’ve spoken with a number of councillors from various locations around the state and found out that in many if not most instances; they have to pay their own way to go to this conference. That is they foot the bill for the $900 per person registration, their own hotel accommodation, food and travel expenses. Several Councils don’t send a representative at all as it is deemed a less than necessary addition to councillor’s tasks compared to outcome. A recent press summary from this current conference concluded ‘that besides a lot of hot air, not a great deal had been achieved’.

Whilst I think it is perhaps worthwhile sending a representative or two, we are in essence at least 4 times better represented than the majority of councils in the state… the next question has to be for all our rate paying dollars, our over representation what do we get out of it? I guess we will have to wait until our many return, I’ve been calling for fewer councillors attending and better notes in the past let’s see what this, if anything, comes out of our recent overindulgence. Perhaps we’ll earn that coveted award for councillors who spend the most on conferences as we did last year ;-(

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4 Responses to Local Government Association-conference Albury

  1. Peter Harle says:

    Signe, it seems I need to point out the facts. Liverpool Council sent four Councillors, the GM and one support staff. Two Councillors went by plane, Council staff and the GM used Council vehicles. I chose to use my own car as did another Councillor; we paid for our fuel costs which although I am entitled to claim have not done so for the last two conferences. The vast majority of Councillors at the conference actually claimed all expenses. Liverpool City Council only paid for accommodation, breakfast and the registration fee of four Councillors. All costs incurred by Councillors spouses (two) were paid for by Councillors. Most Councils sent more delegates than their voting quota allowed. I won’t name them, but there are several advantages gained by doing so.
    The primary reason for attending these conferences is to present Notices of Motions that affects the operation of Councils in NSW, some 140 motions were presented, Liverpool had eight of which only one was deferred. These motions are voted on by the delegates and governed to a large extent by their political persuasions. Greens, Liberals, Labor and Independents all have a say in how Councils across NSW operate. Sending fewer delegates affects the decisions reached. In fact the number of Greens delegates seemed to dominate the mood of the conference and the decisions reached. The money spent in my humble opinion is worth every cent for the benefits gained. The decisions made at the conference will have significant affects on ratepayers. It is in our own interests to send the maximum number of delegates allowed to ensure that the wishes of Liverpool Ratepayers are conveyed in voting rights at the conference. Sending less, as we did, resulted in decisions which are in some respects detrimental to the majority of Liverpool Ratepayers. Bear in mind that many decisions were lost or won by only a few votes. While it is true that there were instances of less delegates than required to form a quorum, that sadly is one of the less than satisfactory aspects of the conference and it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

  2. Signe says:

    Thank you for the clarification Peter, at the council meeting there were more delegates selected than apparently attended, great news. I didn’t imply spouses were paid for so I really don’t offer an opinion there, in the same circumstances I suggest having a spouse may be the only ‘sounding board’ and company on the trip. However, as you mentioned two of our councillors flew. Whilst I applaud your desire to cover your own costs it isn’t mandatory and we may yet bear the cost of those flights. It is also my understanding that there are no more than two voting councillors attending from each council. I am aware that other councils send more than their ‘quota’ however that in effect only highlights the number of councils who don’t send councillors at all as they don’t deem it necessary or perhaps even worse futile. I also understand that an excursion on occasion depleted numbers significantly and is perhaps why the Greens appeared dominant on a couple of occasions. I am also confused as to how attending as a nonvoting councillor is of significant value to the outcome as they are NON voting. Information gained is great and the reason I support us sending delegates. 2 council staff is an increase to the usual as the previous GM was I understand the only staff member to attend in the past, although on this I am happy to stand corrected. I, as always, look forward to a report on the significant benefits and outcomes being addressed in council to the community, although in the past none has been forthcoming. Finally Peter how is sending less people detrimental to the outcome if we are limited in our voting capacity anyway?

  3. Peter Harle says:

    Sorry Signe, somehow managed to exclude the first paragraph. So here it is again in full, you might care to remove the first posting.

    Signe, I’m always happy to provide information, unfortunately many people are misinformed and tend to jump to conclusions based on an opinion or deliberate misinformation intended to detract from Councils and Councillors.
    Below is the link for information regarding voting delegates and Councils entitlements.
    http://www.lgsa-plus.net.au/www/html/3389-voting-information.asp

    Liverpool has been allowed 7 voting delegates for several years, it is based on a population of more than 150,000. The Aboriginal Land Council is currently allowed 27, although that was subject to a vote recommending a reduction to 7 simply because no Council can have more than 7 delegates irrespective of its population.
    Council usually has one non-voting delegate such as the GM plus a staff member to co-ordinate material needed at the conference as well as events co coordinator and generally help with all matters relating to the conference. I can assure you that the help given by the staff member and the GM was highly appreciated by all. Our GM is particularly knowledgeable in Local Government rules and regulations. In fact we managed to get 7 out of 8 motions passed that will have a significant effect on the ratepayers of Liverpool, particularly in relation to S94 funding and developer contributions. That information is also available from the above link.
    The Conference is run much like our Council with similar rules of debates.
    It is important to send as many voting delegates as is allowed in order to have Council issues dealt with in its favour. As an example, Liverpool Council presented a motion to amend parking restrictions that currently prevent parking a vehicle partially on the road and partially on the grassy verge in front of a property so as not block the road. It currently attracts a fine of some $80 and many residents have suffered that fate. I suggested that it is morally wrong to fine vehicle owners in areas where the streets are so narrow (and approved by Council planners) that it is dangerous to park vehicles “legally” as it blocks emergency vehicles entering such areas. Liverpool Council presented a proposed amendment at the Tamworth LGA Conference last year. It was narrowly defeated mainly by Councillors that do not suffer from that problem or are unsympathetic. I agree with trying to save spending ratepayers dollars, but there are times when it is necessary and may appear to be a wasteful. Rest assured, I try my very best not waste ratepayer’s hard earned dollars wherever possible. Here is another link to a report presented to Council. http://www.governmentnews.com.au/2010/10/29/article/LGA-conference-served-its-purpose/QINCWAZUZS

    I was also given the “proxy” vote of two Councillors that could not attend, although that was only for voting of the new Members of the board, not the debating of motions.

    Regards
    Peter Harle

    • Signe says:

      Always good to share information Peter and we appreciate your input. I also suggest that if people like me didn’t raise these concerns very often we’d be left in the dark unaware of the process at all as you would be well aware until I started raising concerns there has been almost no information available to the general public at all. I for one cannot remember ‘ever’ hearing about these conferences in previous councils going back as far as I can remember. I strongly believe bringing this information forward is fair and just considering the funds used are public.
      I have to admit I’ve never argued at the inclusion of the GM their expertise I believe can relinquish any misinformation as they are as you mentioned better informed of the ‘rules of engagement’. Just to clarify was the amendment passed this year regarding the parking on verges; I strongly agree with the recommendation but am unclear of your answer or the result. All in all it is good to see that you are at least presenting some of the info from the conference via this site.

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