Local Government and the Regions

Welcome to this special issue of Sustaining Regions. This issue has been produced in partnership with the National Office of Local Government within the Department of Transport and Regional Services. The articles presented in this issue arise from research, consultancy activities and other initiatives sponsored by NOLG. All of us should be aware that the views expressed in these articles are those of the authors, not the Federal Government. The next issue of Sustaining Regions will also be a theme issue, this time looking at skills shortages in non¬ metropolitan regions. A focus on local government is entirely appropriate for a publication concerned with Australia’s regions. As one of the submissions to the Cost Shifting Inquiry noted, in many parts of Australia local government is the last man standing, following the withdrawal of the Commonwealth Government, State Governments and many private sector institutions. Even within the capitals, local governments play a fundamental role in promoting community well being - through the provision of basic infrastructure and services, the promotion of economic development, regulation of the built environment and acting as an advocate. The first of our papers from a team of researchers from the CSIRO examines the changing face of regional governance in Australia. It considers the shifts in State and Commonwealth Government engagement with the regions, and the role local governments can and do play at the regional ievel. The paper includes a useful state by state breakdown of current administrative arrangements. Our second paper considers capital flows into and out of non-metropolitan or regional Australia. This paper by Marcus Spiller and Sasha Lennon considers how regional Australia can become a more attractive destination for capital. Access to capital is a critical issue in regional Australia as many fast growing industries based outside the capitals have struggled for investment. The authors suggest there are a range of strategies that can be adopted, and that local government can play a pivotal role in their implementation. Ian Manning is the author of our third paper on a national regional benchmarking system. This paper extends work originally undertaken as part of the State of the Regions series and maps out a range of variables that can be helpful in assessing the performance of any one region or group of regions. Our final paper comes from Sasha Lennon, William O’Neill and Marcus Spiller and reports the findings of a survey undertaken in 2002 into the economic development efforts of local governments across Australia. In common with other research (Beer and Maude 1997; Beer and Maude 2002; Beer, Maude and Haughton forthcoming), it finds that local governments play an important role in local and regional economic development, though confronted by a number of challenges. Local governments play an important role in the management of the national economy and in ensuring the well being of capital city regions, country regions and remote regions. The papers presented in this issue canvas some of the important issues confronting regions and local governments and I would hope that this issue helps trigger an on-going debate between those who identify themselves as part of local government, and those whose primary concern is with the well being of regions. As several authors in this issue note, ‘joined up’ solutions are needed to address current policy and market challenges, and local government is one of the key stakeholders in finding these answers. As a practice oriented journal Sustaining Regions looks for opportunities to work with other organisations in order to disseminate best practice and highlight current policy issues. Many aspects of regional development are troubled by the need to secure information from a wide array of sources. Federal, State and local governments all produce important studies, as do community groups, academics and private individuals. Practitioners, academics and policy makers alike often complain about the difficulty of keeping up with developments in their particular field. Theme issues present us with an opportunity to bring this diverse material together in one place and make our readership aware of other information sources.


The Changing Face of Regional Governance for Economic Development: Implications for Local Government

Boosting Capital Flows into Regional Australia - What Local Government Can Do

Towards a National Regional Benchmarking System and The Role of Local Government in Economic Development

Extending Private Sector Involvement in the Development Assessment Process: Towards a Certification Model

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