Please check out the NF Hub and provide feedback to WCC if necessary

The Neighbourhood Forum Hub had disappeared from the new WCC website. As a result of our inquiry as to its whereabouts, it has been restored.

Message from Consultation at WCC:

” Our IT people have added the ‘hub’ to our new website

Please see link below:

http://www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/council/haveyoursay/neighbourhoodforums/Pages/default.aspx

Check out the Hub link (under “See also” right hand side of page)

and note the request at the Hub:

“Welcome to the Neighbourhood Forum Hub

Use this site to gain access to Wollongong City Council’s interactive web content.

This site has been updated with links to the new Council Website (August 2010).

Please report any comments, suggestions and problems through our website feedback.” http://wcc.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/limesurvey/index.php?sid=65665&lang=en

Dogs on beaches – revised off-leash policy to Sept meeting

Will dogs get run of Wollongong beaches?
BY LAUREL-LEE RODERICK
18 Sept, 2010 Illawarra Mercury

“The future of dog off-leash areas on beaches between Stanwell Park and Windang could be revealed by the end of next week.

More than a year after Wollongong City Council unveiled a controversial proposal to allow dogs on all but four of the city’s busiest beaches, a revised off-leash policy is set to be presented to the administrators at the next council meeting on September 28.

The business papers for the meeting will be made available on the council’s website towards the end of next week.”

full story:
http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/will-dogs-get-run-of-wollongong-beaches/1945207.aspx

NSW Opposition – delay in ICAC prosecutions and need to rebuild community

ICAC aftermath: still no decision on charges
BY LAUREL-LEE RODERICK
Illawarra Mercury
16 Sept, 2010

The NSW Opposition has criticised the delay in deciding whether to prosecute six individuals embroiled in the Wollongong City Council corruption scandal, almost two years after the state’s corruption watchdog recommended they should face criminal charges.

On October 8, 2008, Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner Jerrold Cripps flagged a potential 139 criminal charges against 11 individuals in his final report on corruption within the council.

But in the subsequent 23 months, just five individuals have been brought before the court on charges related to the ICAC hearings.

When Mr Cripps, who is no longer with ICAC, was in Wollongong last month, he agreed the process was taking too long.

“It should have been well and truly over by now,” Mr Cripps said.

Shadow attorney-general Greg Smith called for Premier Kristina Keneally’s government to explain why after nearly two years, the matters were not finalised.

Mr Smith said the public needed to have confidence in the justice system but delays undermined this. “If the evidence is sufficient, the people of Wollongong need prosecutions to be launched and to run their course, in order to rebuild their community.”

full story
http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/icac-aftermath-still-no-decision-on-charges/1943019.aspx?storypage=0

CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION, SUPER-COUNCILS – AND US.

With all the talk of a new paradigm at the Federal level, reformwcc has been promoting the pressing need for a new paradigm at the community level for some years now.

See, for example, http://reformwcc.info/new-life-design/

While the 20th century models of organisation have shown themselves to be reliable for the provision of certain services, they have equally shown themselves to be unable to deal with present and emerging major social and environmental issues. They can also be prone to various types of corruption.

Sooner or later, a political party operating with the same outmoded 20th century mentality, will try to find solutions to the mismanagement of state finances by insisting that we move to super-councils.

Combining Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama (for example) might appeal to the bean-counters and politicians alike in the name of ‘efficiency’.

This MBA notion of efficiency is based on a very narrow interpretation of community costs. It does not include the very real costs transferred to people in community.

But more importantly the move to super-councils represents another instance of community disempowerment and disengagement by taking the decision-makers further away from life in our everyday communities.

As it stands, constitutional recognition of local government will do nothing to stop this process.

What is required is a 21st century model of local government which actually includes effective and systematic community participation in the decision-making process.

I am not talking about the lightweight reference groups, council kiosks or neighbourhood forums which presently make up the suite of ‘community consultation’ methods in mode on the late 20th century.

What we need is the organisational means to bring an increasingly ‘unearthed’ decision-making back down to earth.

Rather than going further down the old paradigm pathway elevating the old 20th century model of local government to super-councils (for example), we need to be turning our minds to new forms of organisation which re-centralise local government back into the places where we actually live.

The present Ward level may be an appropriate level – with some finer tuning to reach into the ‘village’ level. We have some great new communication technologies as well – why not use them?

In an ideal world the Australian Local Government Association would be taking the lead in these matters – perhaps by generating a discussion paper on global best practice, and by putting its resources into the task of encouraging a much wider community discussion about what model of local government would work for us.

In the absence of that leadership, it is up to us to ensure that our interests are not overlooked in any rush to gain constitutional recognition of local government.

We can do this by raising issues of effective, systematic and well-resourced community participation in local government decision-making whenever the topic of constitutional recognition is raised.

If we don’t speak up for ourselves, rest assured, no-one else will.

Solomon, J – NSW corruption a problem and must be overcome

Developer loses appeal over ‘sex with planner’ lie

Sydney Morning Herald September 13, 2010

Corruption in NSW “must be overcome”, says a District Court judge, who has dismissed an appeal by a Wollongong developer convicted of lying to the corruption watchdog.

“The community must be told loudly and clearly that corruption in this state is a problem and must be overcome,” Judge Ronald Solomon said in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court today.

“Persons who deal with ICAC must be full and frank with their disclosures, so deterrence is of great importance when it comes to these matters,” Judge Solomon said.

full story:
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/developer-loses-appeal-over-sex-with-planner-lie-20100913-158la.html

Campaign for recognition of a community based model of local government

With the ALP now forming government we can expect that preparations will be made for a referendum on the recognition of local government either during the life of the present Parliament, or the next Federal election.
As the situation is highly unstable (despite the hype about stability) it is difficult to know just how far off this will be.

My guess is the Coalition, sensing the wider public would be unhappy if we had to return to the polls too soon (and would punish the Coalition if it was seen to cause this), will concentrate on building up enough dissatisfaction with the new government for a fresh election to appear as the best course of action.

This will take at least a year if they are not to over-play their hand. There is also the March NSW State election to take into account, with the Liberals keen to maximize on dissatisfaction with the NSW ALP and win government here.

So we may not have the luxury of a three year campaign, but we have some time and need to make the most of it.

HOW DIFFICULT TO AMEND CONSTITUTION?

I wonder to what extent it would be possible to amend the Australian Constitution to gain recognition of local government as things presently stand with the wider Australian people.

There is a widespread cynicism regarding the importance of local government in the general community, with many people consistently undervaluing just how important local government is in our lives.

They often have good reason to be disenchanted since the present (20th century) model of local government is highly flawed and open to abuse. We need a new model of local government – one which can make use of new technologies and re-centre decision-making in our local communities.

It is no easy matter to amend the Australian Constitution, and some of the States may oppose such recognition if they regard it as a threat to their own power. So a real effort and campaign will be needed for a successful referendum.

On the positive side, the existence of local councils (of one kind or another) across Australia provide a vast network which should be able to assist in a campaign to gain Constitutional recognition.

No doubt such a campaign would build on the efforts of the Australian Local Government Association. They provide some good info on their present website, and talk about setting up a dedicated website. But will they promote a model of local government which actually empowers our local communities?

A COMMUNITY BASED MODEL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The concern of reformwcc.info is to ensure that any model of local government which is recognised in the Australian Constitution also protects the role of community based committees (e.g. “Precinct Committees” or “Community Boards”) in Council decision making.

Long way to go on that one, and we start so far behind the pack that there is really very little chance of seeing this key design feature included in the discussion about Constitutional recognition.

Nothing new there, and this website will continue to pursue the issue of making sure that we get a 21st century model of local government recognised in the 21st century Australian Constitution.

The ALGA will be looking for support for the campaign, and success in the referendum may come down to a small margin.

A non-negotiable condition of our support must be that the model of local government recognised in the Australian Constitution includes recognition, protection and effective resourcing of community based committees (or similar) in Council decision-making.

We may never get another chance to gain Constitutional recognition these much needed reforms.

Bruce Reyburn
10 September 2010