LGMA WA State Conference

This conference is still going on as I write. It’s the annual conference of the Local Government Managers Association of WA. These are people who are CEOs and senior executives in the 100+ local governments in WA.

My role was on day 1 where I interviewed the Minister, John Castrilli and the Opposition Spokesman, Paul Papalia in the morning and did a keynote on working with the media in the afternoon.

The Minister is presently pushing through with “voluntary” amalgamations of councils in WA; a process which is causing some angst in the sector. So far,  nine councils have agreed to merge and another 51 have committed to exploring the option further.

The Minister acquitted himself well in the Q&A and I think demonstrated a genuine commitment to ensuring the viability of the sector. My research had unearthed some probing questions which he handled well and did not shirk any of the issues. Chief among these was the question of the State Government providing funding to those Councils who had agreed to amalgamate. It’s going to be a time-consuming and expensive exercise if it is to be done correctly and if not funded by the State the cost will be worn by already rate increase-weary ratepayers.

The Minister said he’d written to the Treasurer, Troy Buswell, though had yet to receive a commitment form him that the amalgamation costs would be funded by the State. However, as this is a State government initiative it would be surprising if they didn’t come through.

The Opposition Spokesman, Paul Papalia, was thoroughly unprepared for the event and admitted he’d not even prepared a presentation. The thrust of his comments centred on the Royalties for Regions policy and what he saw as discrepancies in its administration. Frankly, I thought Paul was disappointing in his performance.

The keynote I presented on “Making and maintaining your Relationship with the Media” was the keynote version of a half-day training course I’ve rolled out with a number of local authorities around WA over the past five or so years. On this occasion, I’d done brief interviews with some journos on how they found working with local authorities and asked them to give three tips on how to do it better. I’ve not seen the evaluation of that session as yet, but I received some positive feedback from a number of delegates after I’d finished.

Posted in Blog