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New Century Local Government
. Publication funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat

This book is being jointly edited by MDL's Peter McKinlay and Graham Sansom, Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government. It will present a number of case studies of innovation in local government from across the Commonwealth. The book results from an initiative Peter presented to the Research Advisory Group of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum at the 2009 CLGF conference. To talk to Peter about the book, contact us.

Evolution in community governance: Building on What Works. MDL is leading a major project with the objective of providing an overview of community governance in Australia looking particularly at the practice of community planning within local government and through the community banking network of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. This project is being undertaken as a collaborative research venture between the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG), the Local Government Centre at AUT University and McKinlay Douglas Ltd, with the support of the Municipal Association of Victoria, Local Government Managers Australia, and the Community Banking Network of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd. It has been initiated as a partnership with each party wanting to develop a better understanding of the different ways in which community governance in Australia is evolving, including the opportunity for greater collaboration.

The project recognises the growing distinction between the formal government role of local government, and the practice of governance which typically involves a wide range of networks linking government bodies of various kinds, civil society organisations and the private sector. A further distinction is that government as an activity is undertaken within a defined geographic boundary - the borders of the nation state, the boundaries of a state within a federal system, or the statutorily defined district of a local authority. Governance in contrast will often be concerned with areas defined by peoples' sense of 'identity'. This can be seen in much of the Australian experience where the focus for community governance may be around a single township within a rural Shire, a neighbourhood within an urban council, or the catchment of a community bank branch.

The project will involve an extensive literature review, a series of case studies exploring the experience of community planning both through local government and through community banking, elite interviews with key opinion makers participants and observers with significant relevant background experience and a one-day workshop to be hosted by the Municipal Association of Victoria. The report will make recommendations for the future evolution of community governance.

To learn more about the project, and how you might contribute to or learn from it, contact us.

Options for Consolidation: A Fresh Look
This project is a major review of current research and practice on improving local government performance through structural change including options such as amalgamation, and shared services. It is being undertaken for the Local Government Association of South Australia and Local Government New Zealand and being led by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government with McKinlay Douglas Ltd as a key project partner. It is both literature research and case study-based, drawing on current experience from Europe and North America, as well as Australasia. Its purpose is to help the client associations, and their members, take a fresh look at the issue of local government structural reform, free from any particular political or other pressures to recommend any particular approach towards consolidation. To find out more, contact us.


Australia's Grattan Institute takes a close look at how technology may transform the delivery of higher education, and the institutions which deliver it in its recent report The online evolution: when technology meets tradition in higher education. There are profound implications for all higher education sectors.

Strong Foundations for Sustainable Infrastructure June 2012. This new report by Ernst and Young for the Australian Government urges the Government to create regional groupings of councils to manage infrastructure delivery.

Unlocking Growth in Cities March 2012. Central government in England has made this offer to cities: in exchange for local leadership, central government is prepared to pass down unprecedented control over budgets and powers in areas as diverse as transport, housing, skills and business support. It’s an interesting contrast with countries such as New Zealand where the Government is looking to confine local government to the core functions of providing local infrastructure, public services and local regulation.

Evolution in community governance. May 2012.The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government has released a major report on how community governance is evolving in Australia. A combination of case study research and an extensive literature review of Australian and international experience, it covers the practice of community planning within local government and through the community banking network of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. See the report and literature review.

Reform in New South Wales August 2011. The Warringah Council, on Sydney’s northern beaches, has released a discussion document to start a dialogue with its communities and neighbouring councils on options for the future of local government.  It’s the first response to the State Government’s destination 2036 initiative for local government across the state.

The Cooperative Council This January 2011 report (The Co-operative Council Sharing power: A new settlement between citizens and the state) discusses the UK Lambeth Borough Council's proposals for a new approach to public service delivery, based on doing things with its communities rather than to the community. The Council put its proposals out to the public a year ago and set up a Cooperative Council Citizens' Commission to report back and make recommendations on implementing the Cooperative Council approach.

Cities: Who Decides? A cross country study of decision-making in cities by the Grattan Institute, an Australian think tank. The study is about city governance and focuses on who makes decisions about our cities and how they are made,  emphasising the importance of good engagement rather than structure in getting good outcomes.

Shared Necessities: The Next Generation of Shared Services February 2011. This report from the New Local Government Network shifts the debate about shared services from the periphery of local government activity to the core, with a compelling argument for a new approach.


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