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Sustainability Action Network [SAN]
PO Box 517
Neutral Bay Junction 2089

Mon 16 Aug 2021 Recipient: 613IRTa1

REF: AAEMHGn1 in the public interest Y/R: BMIN-2-21-11734

Warren McCANN
E: localgovernment@remunerationtribunal.vic.gov.au
Chair
Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal
S1, Ground Floor, 1 Treasury Place Melbourne 3000

Please find attached the Submission from members of the Sustainability Action Network [SAN] for the

“The Victorian Local Government Proposed Determination of allowances for Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors”

This Submission has been placed On-line hereExternal Link for speedy reference to the On-line links

Part of the submission is a need for Key Performance Indicators [PKIs] for Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillor allowance for not only addressing the COVID-19 issue but possibly also for Waste Management and Climate Change issues

These KPIs could be monitored by the Rate-Payers if the details of the Processes and the Performances can be provided On-line as part of the Council web-site.

This will not only enhance local Communication and Information Technology [CIT] skills but provide also the impetus for Rate-payers to review the Council web-site to understand and assist with Council applications and possibly provide a better bang-per-buck for Council rate-payers

Yours sincerely

Peter Axtens LLB (Retired) Stephen Gould
Chair Public Officer
Sustainability Action Network [SAN]External Link


W: www.oic.org/SAN/External Link


Submission to: “The Victorian Local Government Proposed Determination of allowances for Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors”

Index

  1. Reviewing the Submission Brief
  2. Organisation making this Submission
  3. Management Summary
    1. Councillors have Waste Management, Climate Change and COVID-19 issues
    2. Understanding COVID-19 long term costs
    3. Many organisations not just Councils have long term COVID-19 costs
    4. Utilising new technologies to monitor and record offsets
  4. Response to Brief Consultation Questions

A. Reviewing the submission brief:

“The Ministerial Statement on local governmentExternal Link articulates the Government’s future priorities for the local government sector, including the critical role of councils in Victoria’s pathway through social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tribunal may wish to consider whether the priorities identified in this statement should be taken into account in determining councillor allowances.?

Consultation questions

Without limiting the matters persons or bodies may wish to raise in a submission, the Tribunal is particularly interested in receiving submissions on the following questions.

Roles of Council members

What are the most important duties and responsibilities of Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors?

How have the roles and responsibilities of Council members changed since the last review of Councillor allowances in 2008?

What future challenges may emerge?

How are Council member roles affected by a Council’s electoral structure (for example, ward structure or ratio of Council members to population)?

Purpose of allowances

What is, or should be, the purpose of allowances for Council members?

Allowance category factors

What factors should be considered when allocating Councils to allowance categories?

Is the existing system, in which Councils are allocated to categories based on population and

revenue, appropriate?

Adequacy of allowances

Are current allowance values adequate, for example to:

  • attract suitable candidates to stand for Council?
  • reflect the costs (e.g. time commitment) and benefits of Council service?
  • support diversity amongst Council members and potential candidates?

Superannuation

How, if at all, should superannuation be considered in determining allowance values?

Comparators

The Tribunal is required to consider allowances for persons elected to ‘voluntary part-time community bodies’ when making the Determination.

Which bodies should the Tribunal consider, and why?

The Tribunal is also required to consider similar allowances for elected members of local government bodies in other States.

Which States are particularly relevant (or not) for this purpose, and why?

Financial impacts

What are the financial impacts of varying allowance values for Council members?

B. Organisation making submission

This submission is made by Members of Sustainability Action Network [SAN] of the Open Interchange Consortium [OIC]

The OIC was formed in 1994 by membersExternal Link including Ourworld Global Network [OGN], Commonwealth Bank, AIDC and Halisa International Network [HIN] , dedicated to assisting Large , Medium and Small Enterprises through regular monthly meetingsExternal Link , specific Interest Groups such as XML Special Interest Group [XZIG]External Link and On-line project tendersExternal Link to understand and benefit from Electronic Information Technologies [EIT]

In 1997 foundation members developed an XML application called “Electronic Association Information Management [EAIM]External Link ” which included Electronic Committee Information Management [ECIM]External Link with the Special Interest Groups utilising ECIM

One of those Special Interest Groups was the Local Government Interest Group [LZIG]External Link

In 2000 OIC members worked together to submit a response to a 9 Council SyndicateExternal Link for an Application Integration Project which include eBusiness and the InternetExternal Link

In 2001 the Federal Government Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business [DEWRSB] joined the OIC to commission a joint-venture to promote an understanding of XML to 172 NSW Local Government AgenciesExternal Link

In 2006/7 OIC members worked with Mosman Council on understanding Sustainability issues and formed the Sustainability Action Network [SAN]External Link

As a result of this understanding of Local Government applications SAN members submitted a number of On-line responses to local Government initiatives including:

  1. the North Sydney Council Community Engagement Strategy [CES]External Link
  2. the Inner West Council Draft Climate & Renewables StrategyExternal Link

C. Management Summary

  1. Councillors have Waste Management, Climate Change and COVID-19 issues
  2. Understanding COVID-19 long term costs
  3. Many Community organisations not just Councils have long term COVID-19 costs
  4. Utilising new technologies to monitor and record offsets

a. Councillors have Waste Management, Climate Change and as well as COVID-19 issues

Councils have a number of challenges over the next 10 years which few have appeared to identify properly in their published 10-year plans on their web-sites

These Challenges include stimulating new community work initiatives for local economies. managing waste more effectively for Climate Change Greenhouse Gases reduction policies, providing more effective rate-payer value and encouraging higher qualified candidates to run for Council positions

This submission tries to address these issues by proposing that the Role of a Councillor becomes a Ward Resource Co-ordinator who encourages Street Co-ordinators to Participate in the local democracy by managing local volunteer resources and waste far more effectively and creating a local economy credits system that can be spent in local shops

b. Understanding COVID-19 long term costs

There are many aspects of long term COVID-19 costs that are difficult to quantify

Whilst the newspapers have tried to quantify costs eg Article 12 Oct 2020 “The COVID-19 Pandemic and the US$ 16 Trillion VirusExternal Link

“The SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) pandemic is the greatest threat to prosperity and well-being the US has encountered since the Great Depression.

This Viewpoint aggregates mortality, morbidity, mental health conditions, and direct economic losses to estimate the total cost of the pandemic in the US on the optimistic assumption that it will be substantially contained by the fall of 2021.

These costs far exceed those associated with conventional recessions and the Iraq War, and are similar to those associated with global climate change.

However, increased investment in testing and contact tracing could have economic benefits that are at least 30 times greater than the estimated costs of the investment in these approaches.

Since the onset of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in March, 60 million claims have been filed for unemployment insurance.

Before COVID-19, the greatest number of weekly new unemployment insurance claims (based on data from 1967 on) was 695 000 in the week of October 2, 1982.

For 20 weeks beginning in late March 2020, new unemployment claims exceeded 1 million per week; as of September 20, new claims have been just below that amount………...

The above article is about the United States of America and the same issues apply to every Country throughout the World

According to the Guardian Newspaper 11 May 2021External Link “The 2021 Federal Budget reveals huge cost of Au$311 Billion cost of COVID to the Australian Economy”

However the major cost was for Economic stimulus packages like “Jobkeeper” and “Jobseeker” and does not include the Economic costs of State Government lockdowns and the costs of establishing on-going testing locations

Hence Councils have to set the example for the rest of the Community to follow as to how to offset COVID-19 costs, manage waste more effectively and progress as Community networks

c. Many Community organisations not just Councils have long term COVID-19 costs

There is a plethora of community networks which will have long-term COVID-19 cost including Business Associations, Chambers of Commerce, sports clubs, body corporates, RSLs, school meetings as well as Councils and different Council committees

Just in the last Olympics in Tokyo 2021 there were over 339 different medal events and this does not include various other sports and pastimes which have regular meetings

All of these organisations could benefit if committee meetings both physical and On-line could be recorded as that Community Asset

d. Utilising new technologies to monitor and record offsets

Most Communities that have meeting record the Minutes these days produce them on PCs or terminals

It is now a simple process to put those minutes On-line so that the members can review the minutes

All Sports Communities, Council Communities and Councils in Australia also have extensive Volunteering at regular Committee meetings whereby the minutes record the attendees, preparation of reports and actual time spent by VolunteersExternal Link at these committee meetings

These Committee activities should be included as an Asset in the Economic Value of that Community

Indeed with repeated COVID-19 outbreaks, many of these meetings could be performed On-line or by Zoom meetings hence should be included as Economic Contributions

This issue of the Economic Value of participation in On-line Committees was recognised by the foundation members of the Open Interchange Consortium [OIC] at the inaugural AGM minutes and members’ mandates in 1996External Link

Following that AGM OIC members developed a number of On-line services including Electronic Committee Information Management [ECIM]External Link

ECIM was based on research carried out with Hampton School Rugby Old BoysExternal Link , South Sydney Council, South Sydney Chamber of Commerce and a joint-venture with the British Standards Institute [BSI] which printed and posted out over 1,000,000 pieces of paper annually to members of over 350 national and international committees

The research by OIC members into ECIM included hourly Accreditation creditsExternal Link for Electronic Committee Participation as used by Electronic Business [eBXML] Australia 2000-2002External Link for telephone conference meetings around Australia and Hong Kong

NZ councils have elected councillors and community boards

  1. NZ Councils elected Community Boards
  2. North Sydney Council 26 Precinct system espoused by Mayor Ted MACK
  3. Volunteer Participation as Community Assets

a. NZ councils elected community boards

Further to our emails about the Australian research on the Economic Value of Volunteers for each state on 15 Jun 2021External Link and valued in 2013 at $ 25 Billion per annum in email 14 July 2021External Link you may be interested in reviewing how New Zealand Councils have elected Community Boards many chaired by elected Councillors

NZ Example 1: Whakatane Council

1 elected Mayor, 10 elected Councillors with 20 elected membersExternal Link for 6 Community Boards providing multiple committee meetings each month

And these are the On-line committee meeting dates

July 2021 – 7 committee meetingsExternal Link

Jun 2021 – 8 Committee MeetingsExternal Link

May 2021 – 9 Committee MeetingsExternal Link

Unfortunately all the agendas and minutes of meeting are On-line PDF files that have to be downloaded to be read. - none of the minutes are documents that can be read On-line by other interested members of those Communities

Compare those On-line PDF minutes with the On-line minutes of an Electronic Business [ebXML] Australia meeting nearly 20 years ago on 05 Feb 2002External Link of the Marketing Strategy Work Group chaired by Mark BEZZINA Director of Communications, IT and eCommerce at Standards Australia – his changes to the draft minutes are included in blue

This is a link to the members and their attendance recordsExternal Link of Electronic Business [ebXML] Australia which could be used by every Council/Sports Club/Body Corporate Committee to show On-line attendance with COVID-19 travel restrictions

For some reason Standards Aus cancelled all other scheduled 2002 ebXML Meetings after that 05 Feb 2002 meeting !

NZ Example 2: Selwyn District Council

Another example is Selwyn District Council which has 1 mayor and 12 Councillors and over 70 listed CommitteesExternal Link with regular meetings and PDF minutes

NZ Example 3: Christchurch City Council

Christchurch City Council has 15 councillors with 7 Community BoardsExternal Link comprising – 52 elected Volunteer members

However recently some New Zealand Councils have published Councillor and Committee Participation Remuneration schemers which appear to add considerable Rate-payer costs without any Key Performance Indicators [PKIs] such as waste management to justify the large salaries eg Auckland Council elected member remuneration schemeExternal Link , Christchurch Councillors Pay riseExternal Link and Tauranga CouncilExternal Link

b. North Sydney Council 26 Precinct system espoused by Mayor Ted Mack

In 1974 Ted MACKExternal Link was elected as initially as an Alderman and then as Mayor from 1980-1988 on North Sydney Council and espoused the principles of “Participatory DemocracyExternal Link ” whereby “Citizens have a right to participate in local precinct issues”

Ted established 26 PrecinctsExternal Link in the North Sydney Local Government Area and now this Precinct system is under reviewExternal Link , possibly because North Sydney Volunteers are no longer fulfilling all the roles necessary to maintain the value of the precincts.

As the reports on the “Economic Value of Volunteering” to the 5 State GovernmentsExternal Link by Dr Duncan IRONMONGER indicate that a Volunteer hour is now valued at over $ 35.00/hr, recent COVID-19 large-scale community shutdowns dictate we must use technology to record Volunteer participation as a Community Asset rather than leave Communities in perpetual debt under current accounting processes

D Response to brief consultation questions

A. Roles of Council members

QA1 What are the most important duties and responsibilities of Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors?

AA1 : Encouraging the local Community to participate in Council discussion making with the Councillors chairing various Committees whereby the Committee Minutes and reports can be reviewed On-line form home computers and NOT AS PDF FILES THAT HAVE TO BE DOWNLOADED

QA2 How have the roles and responsibilities of Council members changed since the last review of Councillor allowances in 2008?

AA2 The Roles and Responsibilities of Council members have changed dramatically since 2008 in that Councils have implemented far more sophisticated Information systems with most Councils providing Councils minutes On-line mainly as PDF files

In addition many Councils are encouraging their local communities to participate as Volunteers in a number of spheres as Councils become more “Entrepreneurial” re the 1993 Australian Model of GovernmentExternal Link

QA3 What future challenges may emerge?

AA3 The key issues for many future challenges are how to cope with further COVID-19 issues and maintain financial credibility with rate-payers

Judging by the number of Councillor payments schemes implemented by local councils in New Zealand eg Auckland CouncilExternal Link and Tauranga CouncilExternal Link as well as Western Australia CouncilsExternal Link then Council rate-payers should be reviewing their local Council websites

QA4 How are Council member roles affected by a Council’s electoral structure (for example, ward structure or ratio of Council members to population)?

AA4 Councillors should be responsible for set areas each with the similar numbers of council rate-payers

B. Purpose of allowances

BQ1 What is, or should be, the purpose of allowances for Council members?

BA1 The Council is a business and the Councillors should have Key Performance Indicators[KPIs] which include Waste Management, Climate Change and Community wellbeing PKIs

C. Allowance category factors

CQ1 What factors should be considered when allocating Councils to allowance categories?

CA1 Allowance categories should include Waste Management, Climate Change improvements and local Community Participation Credits

CQ2 Is the existing system, in which Councils are allocated to categories based on population and revenue, appropriate?

CA2 It needs to be enlarged to include Waste Management, Climate Change improvements and local Community Participation Credits

D. Adequacy of allowances

DQ1 Are current allowance values adequate, for example to:

  • attract suitable candidates to stand for Council?
  • reflect the costs (e.g. time commitment) and benefits of Council service?
  • support diversity amongst Council members and potential candidates?

DA1 No because they do not include any Key Performance Indicators [PKI] and hence probably do not attract the best candidates

E. Superannuation

EQ1 How, if at all, should superannuation be considered in determining allowance values?

EA1 As we understand it according to this web-siteExternal Link Victorian Councillors do receive the Superannuation Guarantee

Superannuation Guarantee
Mayoral and councillor allowances are also subject to the addition of the equivalent of the superannuation guarantee (9.5%). Note that this percentage is scheduled to increase to 10% from 1 July 2021.

EQ2 How, if at all, should superannuation be considered in determining allowance values?

EA2 Superannuation should be considered particularly if each Local Council can accumulate the Superannuation as an Asset for future community purchases

F. Comparators

The Tribunal is required to consider allowances for persons elected to ‘voluntary part-time community bodies’ when making the Determination.

FQ1 Which bodies should the Tribunal consider, and why?

FA1 Any Community Body that is prepared to implement and On-line Electronic Committee Information Management system so that local community members can review the minutes On-line

The Tribunal is also required to consider similar allowances for elected members of local government bodies in other States.

FQ2 Which States are particularly relevant (or not) for this purpose, and why?

FA2 All Australian and New Zealand local government bodies because people should be able to travel regularly to these location

G. Financial impacts

GQ1 What are the financial impacts of varying allowance values for Council members?

GA1 Judging by the remuneration allowances already granted to New Zealand and Western Australian Councillors, they have added considerable cost for local rate-payers without any way of judging how effective the Councillors are in managing the key community issues for other rate-payers

Reviewed 07 October 2021

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