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What’s ruining our Councils?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

The culture of appalling leadership!

Local Government employs over 50,000 people in Victoria. That’s more than the Commonwealth Bank – Australia’s largest bank.

Many of these employees turn up each day to serve residents and help them in their dealings with Council. Whether it be a community room booking, a sports team registration, a librarian helping with resource material or a school crossing supervisor, the majority of Council staff are like any other employees. They are just trying to do their job. They do not have any motive to upset or cause the community at large any discomfort.

There is a second group of employees within the Local Government sector. Those with “delegated authority” or “decision-making ability”. This is the highly paid (often biased) bureaucrat, who writes the reports and recommendations on matters that involve large sums of money and significant change.

Often these senior officers are the source of frustration for ordinary residents. Their “expert advice” seemingly cannot be questioned, yet always collide with residents.

I have watched these staff control and shut down ANY questions from the community, councillors or media. Their best skill is avoiding ANY accountability and blame.

Senior officers are responsible for writing the governance and meeting rules that also shut residents out. They have an open chequebook with ratepayers’ money and are ready to waste it on ill-conceived major projects without any commercial logic, self-promotion, and of course lawyer’s fees to fight residents who disagree.

They also have a revenue model that relies heavily on fines and penalties to raise income for Council.

Often, Senior Officers are NOT qualified or experienced to be experts in complex capital-intensive projects, they lack commercial experience. They are not attached to the outcome of their decisions and may not care about the needs of the community. Often they do not reside in the communities they serve. Almost everything is outsourced to provide “plausible deniability” so that they can claim the hired experts were responsible. Often snippets of information are taken out of context and reports are written devoid of fact and evidence. Any scientific measure or analysis of projects and decisions would reveal there is just no factual basis for decision-making. Rhetoric, influence, and bias call the shots.

Senior Council staff are often ideologues who believe they are somehow saving the community from itself. They honestly believe they know best; they have special information that you don’t have, and they have a fundamental right to implement change, in areas outside not in their council remit.

The sorts of things they recommend are:

  • Removal of gas cooking and wood fires

  • Installation of bike lanes in busy traffic precincts

  • Junkets to sister cities, just to name a few.

It is the Senior staff within our Councils that have destroyed the intent of Local Government. They ask for community feedback and consultation, but they absolutely do NOT want it. It is used as a box-ticking exercise as anything critical that may challenge their mindset is set aside. There is a deep leadership vacuum and crisis in our local Councils.

Residents are focused on roads, parks, pools, and libraries – on value and impact on their lives.

In contrast, Senior officers are obsessed with their expensive project construction pipelines, control of councillors’ thoughts/beliefs, and their ability to write innovative, socially progressive policy – no matter how negatively it affects the community.

Councils are first and foremost meant to be a custodian of community assets and service providers to the community. Today the vast majority of services are being outsourced or abandoned if they do not make big bucks. Rubbish collection, park and street cleaning and maintenance, and running of pools and sports centres are a few of the items being outsourced. More recently, we have seen Aged Care Services, in-home Help, Meals on Wheels and kindergartens being progressively abandoned.

If Councils are simply to be a bureaucracy that outsources most of its functions, and will not listen to anyone but their own echo chamber, then why do we need them at all?

A sector with a staff of 50,000 where the average full-time employment cost is over $100,000 gives me 5 billion reasons to force these functions into an automated arm of the State Government. (We wish)

Council community satisfaction is at its worst levels in decades. The responsibility lies squarely with Senior Council Officers. Sheer incompetence and their political stranglehold are killing local government.

The perceptions of local government are lower than ever.

People no longer feel heard, represented, or served by the sector.

If nothing changes, 50,000 should be out of a job and it is all management's fault.

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Its incredible how councils neglect basic maintenance. In Seymour at the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Walk they very rarely sweep the street despite planting a huge avenue if gum trees which shed. And Yarra Council are on very shaky ground as they charge rates in streets they are refusing to sweep. Under Sec 245 if the LGA they are not getting value for money. The ratepayers woll win at VCAT. What a shambles councils are!!


I have numerous gripes with councils, which I won't bore you with, as you seem to have a handle on most of them. I believe we need to put pressure on the state governments, to abolish councils and take responsibility for the monsters they created. Councils were created by the state governments and should be removed by the state governments. Initially they were created to serve local residents, in the horse and buggy days, where communication was difficult. This is no longer the case, therefor (again) state governments should take responsibility for their roles.

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Excellent idea as councils cant approve developments tree removal etc. Its all Victrack. No need for them now


Soft do nothing voters and constituents that sit on their hands is what is allowing council fester and throb on junkets and woke adgendas and fat remuneration packages is killing what was once getting things done


Membre inconnu
05 sept. 2023

My personal experience in Whitehorse was appalling. I contacted them for help because I purchased a unit my PPR and later discovered I was landlocked ftom my carport. I contacted them for help. Instead I was attacked over my carport because i had built a 3/4 side wall and put on a door to protect me ftom an abusive neighbour. They sent me a demolition order. Very heavy handed threatening bureaucratic response Went the Building Appeals. I still have the 3/4 wall and door. It has left me taumatised. That they would do this to a 76 year old. And 5 emails to my local ward councillor for hrlp were unanswered. Now they know my Sec 32 was misrepresented and…


What each council area needs is an electors association. Unfortunately ratepayers groups are myopic and only interested in local issues not systemic issues and cannot get together to see the "forest for the trees"

Jmichael D'angleo
Jmichael D'angleo
15 oct. 2023
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