A Message from the Chairman

May 2022

The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC

Be Transparent with your Community.

Well, the Federal election has been conducted and the result known.

We wish the new government good fortune, fairness and strength in meeting the real challenges we as a country are going to face over the next few years. I fear it may be more dramatic than anything we have faced economically since WW11.

Growing inflation, higher interest rates and huge expectations are a recipe for a great deal of community unrest and disappointment.

Labor’s $750 million Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program extension will support councils to build new libraries, community centres, sporting facilities and playgrounds right across the country. This is a welcomed initiative.

Millions of Australians will also benefit from the new Government’s $200 million per year Disaster Ready Fund, that will help protect high-risk communities from fires, cyclones, and floods.

Labor has committed to providing fair increases to Financial Assistance Grants, to ensure that councils remain sustainable. Labor’s commitment to including local government on National Cabinet will ensure local voices are heard and considered and deliver better outcomes for the sector.

The expectations of communities will remain high as inflation and interest rates rise.

The ongoing impact of rate capping squeezing the financial capacity of Councils will really impact Councils over the coming 5 years putting enormous pressure on Councils capacity to provide services and maintain a reasonable level of capital expenditure.

Councils will need to prioritise and review services to ensure they can fulfill their commitments in their strategic plans. There is also the continuing challenge of attracting good and qualified employees.

I know Local Government has faced challenges in the past, but this period could be the most difficult Councils and their communities have faced for decades.

Best advice I can offer, is if challenged, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

No one on their own has all the answers, and where a council has a shortage of skills, go out and find them. Ensure that the CEO has the best of people leading his or her teams.

I am sure we will all survive what I fear is heading our way, but as always teams of people, not individuals will deliver the best results.

My strongest recommendation for all Councils is to be fully transparent with their communities.

In fact, if necessary being overly communicative. Be open about how rising interest rates might affect Councils Budget, the impacts of rate capping, the implication of not being able to attract skilled employees. Offer community members the opportunity to help out if times get tough.

I have always found the more open you are with people the less stress and misunderstanding arises.

Let’s hope my fears are unfounded.

For now, look after your health, and that of your family and employees. With good physical and mental health, every challenge can be overcome.

The Hon Jeff Kennett AC
CT Management Group

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