Inspire : Public Works Mar Apr 2014
4 Public Works Professional March-April 2014 | From the President | |FromtheCEO| How exciting to pen my ﬁrst President’s Notes as I embark upon this new two-year challenge. I would like to thank my fellow Board members for their support and vote of conﬁdence in electing me as the new President of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia at the February 2014 meeting. I also acknowledge the great work and dedication of the immediate past president Paul Di Iulio, with whom I had the privilege of ser ving on the IPWEA Board over the past four and half years. For those of you who do not know me yet, I am a qualiﬁed Civil Engineer and have spent the majority of my 20-year career in Local Government and have worked in a number of councils in Queensland and Western Australia. I have ser ved on the IPWEA Queensland Board for a number of years and was privileged to be elected as President from 2012 to 2013. In recent years I have worked in the consulting sector, and currently lead AECOM’s Community Infrastructure teams in Queensland, Northern Territory and Wester n Australia. The IPWEA has undergone signiﬁcant positive change and growth over the past few years and this will continue to be fostered during my term as IPWEA President. The recent creation of a New Zealand Division of IPWEA will ensure we have a strong and dynamic presence across Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Paciﬁc region now and well into the future. The IPWEA service offering and expertise in areas such as Infrastr ucture Asset Management and Public Works Sustainability are very relevant to the broader public works sector at this period in history and while a core focus of IPWEA will always be local government there are many new and exciting opportunities for the Board to consider going for ward. I am absolutely thrilled to be working with our talented CEO Chris Champion, our very capable new Vice President Ross Goyne and the IPWEA Board to build on the many existing successful IPWEA Board and Division initiatives and contribute to the IPWEA journey over the next two years. On average, councils have more money in the bank than they have debt. Local gover nment has extraordinarily low levels of debt relative to the security and the level of its income base and the nature of its responsibilities. IPWEA and the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Gover nment (ACELG) are collaborating to release a discussion paper titled Debt is not a dirty word – The role and use of debt in local government. IPWEA commissioned leading local gover nment economist John Comrie to research the paper, and it is worth noting some of its key points. Local government ser vice provision is asset- intensive and infrastructure assets have, on average, long, useful lives. In such circumstances, it is impossible over time to ﬁnance the acquisition of new assets, while at the same time ﬁnancing warranted asset renewal, without signiﬁcant reliance on debt. Under-use of debt will result in inter-generational inequity in ser vices and charging decisions – and an inability to accommodate needs for new capital works and asset renewal. Local governments are generally debt averse. Many councils are likely to better serve their communities by making greater use of debt. And many have considerable capacity to deal with urgent asset renewal needs. Current local government debt-related attitudes and practices are often encouraged in guidelines and the requirements of states or territories. These instr uctions reﬂect approaches that were commonly advocated in the old cash accounting era. Debt levels in local government should not be ‘as low as possible’ in an absolute sense, but should instead be as low as possible relative to what is needed to provide affordable, preferred ser vice levels on an ongoing basis. Intergenerational and equitable rating and charging decisions need to be maintained. As a ﬁrst step, state and territory local gover nment associations and local government regulatory agencies, and national peak bodies, need to meet to explore the merits of reforms to promote better use of debt by local governments. This IPWEA/ACELG discussion paper may be controversial, but it is an opportunity to seriously raise the conversation about debt and its role in ﬁnancing much needed infrastr ucture renewal. Dow nload the paper at w w w.ipwea.org/DebtPaper Note: The conclusions in the discussion paper are necessarily general. Some of the ﬁndings and proposals may be less relevant, or irrelevant, to councils depending on their particular circumstances. There are many exciting opportunities for the Board to consider going forward. Under-use of debt will result in inter- generational inequity in services and charging decisions.
Public Works Jan Feb 2014
Public Works May Jun 2014