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DEATH BY A THOUSAND COMMITTEES

Why Council Decisions have been compromised.

 

You know how it goes, Council makes a decision, the community is outraged, councillors and staff become defensive, the community is labelled aggressive and unreasonable, staff safety is chanted, council refuses to engage and shuts down meetings.

Too often we see Community Outrage over Council decisions or reports because the community cannot understand where the thought processes have come from and how the decision could possibly have public support. We hear daily that Community members aren’t asked, don’t feel consulted properly, and sadly in a lot of cases, are not being represented by the “system”.

Little wonder.

Councils are a governance nightmare of too many committees, self-interest associations and “peak bodies”.

All of these bodies are funded by you and me, the ratepayer. Millions of dollars a year is funnelled into these “support organisations” that are nothing more than a grifting and self-aggrandisement exercise for our local councils.

Councillors and CEO’s aplenty are sitting on these boards and committees and padding their resumes with cushy motherhood mantras and agendas. Reading the LinkedIn posts is enough to make one sick. No, they are not solving anything, they are not saving anything, nor are they the change they claim to be.

What we see is nothing short of narcissism on the public purse.

So, what level of committees exist in local government circles?

I am glad you asked.


Council Committees - internal to council

Today, most Councils have the following types of “Committees” (which may alternatively be named Reference Groups or Working Groups):


·         Active Ageing Committee

·         Animal Welfare Committee

·         Arts & Culture

·         Audit & Risk Committee

·         CEO Remuneration Committee

·         Community Awards Committee

·         Community Safety & Wellbeing Committee

·         Disability, Access & Inclusion Advisory Committee

·         Early Years Advisory Committee

·         Environment Committee

·         Gender Equity Committee

·         Governance Committee

·         Heritage Advisory Committee

·         LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee

·         Reconciliation Advisory Committee

·         Tourism Committee

·         Youth Advisory Committee

·         Multicultural Committee

·         Recreation and Leisure Committee

·         Timor-Leste fundraising committee

·         Economic Development Committee

·         Emergency Management Committee


That’s 79 Councils having at least these committees to begin with. These committees, whilst having no decision-making power, are where ideas and policy comes from. These committees are often chosen by staff and Councillors and stacked with specific people that those in power choose to be there. Those who are not liked are excluded from selection from these committees, for good reason.

They are not subject matter experts, but they carry a loud voice of recommendation making directly to the Councillor Group.

Council staff organise them, write reports and use them as the “recommender” when implementing ideas, action plans and tasks. They are the home of most action plans.


Action plans are “what Councils do”.


External Boards and Committees - Regional Councils groupings.

On Climate change alone, the following is a list of Council organised committees in Victoria:

·         Barwon South-West Climate Alliance (BSWCA)

·         Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA), 

·         Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (EAGA),

·         Goulburn Murray Climate Alliance (GMCA)

·         Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA)   

·         Southeast Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA)

·         Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action (WAGA) 

 

Other Council groupings/alliances and not for profits in the sector:

·         Eastern Transport Coalition

·         Peri Urban Councils Victoria 

·         Rural Councils Victoria 

·         https://www.gbac.org.au – Greater Ballarat Alliance of Councils

·         Eastern Affordable Housing Alliance

·         Southern Metro Region Alliance

·         CoRE (Communities of Respect and Equality) Alliance

·         Recycling Victoria Local Government Advisory Committee 

·         Global Convenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy 

 

 

State and Federal Peak Bodies 

·         https://www.finpro.org.au/ (state)

·         https://www.vlga.org.au/ (state)

·         https://www.lgpro.com/ (state)

·         https://www.mav.asn.au/ (state)

·         https://alga.com.au/ (federal)

·         ALGWA - Branches - Victoria 

 

Government Taskforces and Panels

·       Local Government Mayoral Advisory Panel – selected by the Minister herself.

·       Australian Government Local Government Taskforce 

·       various suburban revitalisation boards and metropolitan partnership advisory groups


Now I don’t know about you, but this is overkill and nepotism, and it is all paid for by you and me. We are being pillaged publicly all whilst these bodies all complain Councils need more money.

The number 1 complaint of these bodies is funding – they are all lobbying for rate capping to end. We are paying lobbyists with rates money to end rate capping – I hope you are shaking your head too.

Alas, some of these groups pay Councillors up to $500 a meeting to attend them. 

It makes the position of Mayor all the more valuable, because the Mayor is automatically appointed to many key external boards and committees.

Many hold secret elections amongst Victorian Councillors annually, and pay those elected. If you wonder why some Councillors are not doing their job locally, now you know why. They are busy perhaps with committees.

This is a major part of the reason why Councils are full of staff writing reports, committees recommending things that have not been tested with the paying community, and why so many Councils are literally copy and pasting the narrative.

It’s not a dystopian conspiracy led by the State, rather, it’s a self-obsessed and insular industry that cannot seem to know what its role is – if it doesn’t involve blowing millions of dollars on conferences, junkets and itself.

We elect Councillors to make the hard decisions. The buck stops with them.

All of these “committees/boards/associations/groups exist to tell them what they should be doing and how they should be doing it. They do not for one second represent the community or resident – not one of them. They represent themselves.

Councillors have ONE job, to balance the views and recommendations of the officers AGAINST the views of the community that elected them.

Far too many Councillors are far more interested in sitting on the endless list of wannabe committees and padding their resumes.

These committees are a massive part of the insidious culture that steals democracy, and we need to shut most of them down. These committees design and influence council policy and decision making far greater than any community consultation process ever will.



At tens of millions of our money spent each year, I’d rather fix some potholes than keep paying for their junkets, conferences, meetings, and aggrandisement.

Oh, and no CEO should be sitting on ANY external committee – they are paid handsomely to run the Council organisation and should be doing just that.

 

We need to end this culture of self-absorption that is a Council Committee/Lobby Group/Association/Working Group/Forum/Alliance.

 

 

PS. As far as residents’ groups go focused on your needs, they can be counted on one hand, and Council Watch is the largest.


No funding. No grifting. It's time to end this WASTE CULTURE.

 

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I think councils are not doing what they were originally formed for.

They need to go and contract manager needs to be implemented with no political, cultural, educational issues included, Basic municipal needs attended to like, rubbish, road and drain cleaning, footpath maintenance. Put the rate money back into these areas, not filtered into all the backhand slapping going on.

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How do we make these things happen????

  • councillors and staff to transparently appoint members to any committee

  • Most committees to be disbanded as they are not necessary

  • better Community Consultation on ALL matters (not via committees where activists can insert their views and skew community representation)

  • all EXTERNAL bodies, alliances, associations to be defunded and disbanded - they are just gouging millions in public money.

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Is this post calling to disband all community committees or just calling for them (and Councillors who attend them) to not be paid?

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Hmmm. I feel that committees (as flawed as they are), provide the only opportunity for community input for marginalised groups and important issues/projects. I would advocate for better management of them, rather than a removal of them!

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In addition Council CEO's formally referred to us "The Town Clerk" receive up to 300 thousand PA. Realistically all Councils should be abolished replaced by a Governor style regime. Whereby candidates can outline their Agenda leading up to each election, like a voting platform. Said person then for example nominates Department Heads, for Administration (Town Clerk) By-Laws, Parks and Gardens, Sanitary Responsibilities, Aged Care Services, Minor Thoroughfares, Motor Pool, Infrastructure etc. The citizenry then votes for the best package, possibly based on effective and efficiency and economic stability, not necessarily the cheapest however the most balanced. The weakest link in this may be open to nepotism / cronyism and corruption however its up to the citizenry, the power …

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I think there is one way to solve these issues permanently. We need a rate payer association in each council to represent ratepayers. Woke council will be put on notice that rate payers will stop paying their rates. Full Stop. The rate payers must demand a set of standards to be meet residents expectation and do way with unnecessary committees and politicised councils. Once council agrees to rate payers demands ratepayers can start paying there rates again. See if ratepayers stop paying rates there will be no councilors in a matter of weeks. Amen.

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RAPIDLY GROWING

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