The Board has developed a set of ‘capability and outcome aspirations’. Importantly, these aspirations make clear that our vision is holistic – it is about ensuring much more than sustainability in the sense of simple cost efficiencies. In broad terms, these are a set of statements that describe what we think should be the defining features of a successful and sustainable system of local government for Tasmania in the 21st century.
Capability and outcome aspirations
Councils have responsibility, accountability, and autonomy for providing a clearly defined range of place-based functions and services. The community has a clear understanding of the role of local government, what their councils do, and why. Councils work in a smart, collaborative, and effective way - with one another, with business, with the community, and with other levels of government - to meet the needs of their individual local communities while having regard to the overall social, economic, and environmental wellbeing of all Tasmanians.
Councils have ready and reliable access to a high quality, professional workforce, supported by knowledge, systems, and data. This allows them to make good decisions that deliver on clearly defined objectives informed by what their communities want and need. As an employer, councils attract and retain good people who have the right mix of skills to deliver for their communities.
Councils have the necessary financial resources to plan for, provide and maintain - on a sustainable basis - infrastructure and services to a clearly defined and consistent level, which meets the current and projected future needs of their communities. Funding models that support councils are equitable, transparent, consistent, and efficient.
Councils deliver infrastructure and services that meet the needs and preferences of communities at the lowest possible economic, social, and environmental cost. Service standards and associated costs are transparent and applied in an equitable way so that all Tasmanians have access to a certain level of services, but which also reflects communities’ willingness and capacity to pay. Services where local differentiation is not necessary, or desirable, are delivered at a scale that maximises their overall value for money. Cost efficiencies achieved from increased scale economies are re-invested in locally tailored services that are valued by local communities and which support wellbeing.
Councils are underpinned by a robust and trusted system of local democratic participation, representation, and accountability, where decision-makers (both elected members and council staff) act transparently and with integrity in the best interests of their communities. Elected members reflect and represent the diversity of the communities they serve and are competent stewards of resources, people, and place. Because of this, local communities have confidence in their council’s elected members and staff, actively engage and participate in council decision-making, and know they will be listened to on the issues that matter to them.
How these aspirations will help
The aspirations act as a ‘vision statement’. They also serve a clear and practical purpose in guiding the work of the Review over the next 12 months. We think they help in three main ways.
They have helped us shape the development of more specific ‘future visions’ for each of the Review theme areas (we talk about these more in Section 4). They also form the basis for our Priority Reform Areas
They will help us develop a set of clear measures and indicators for assessing how well the sector is performing now. By doing this, we will be able to identify areas of strength and where there are potential weaknesses, to guide identification and prioritisation of potential reform opportunities
They will help us to test reform options. In this way, the aspirational statements, and the measures that sit beneath them, will act as reform ‘assessment criteria’. This will help clearly identify and prioritise specific reform recommendations that the Board believes have the best prospects of delivering a more robust and capable sector in the future.
More details about how these aspiration statements will help guide the work of the Review can be found in Section 3 of the Interim Report.