Abstract from Professor Brian Dollery's Guest Lecture presented at the Treasury on 13 April 2007.
Professor Brian Dollery
Centre for Local Government, University of New England
Brian Dollery is Professor of Economics, Director of the Centre for Local Government at the University of New England, and an authority on the economics of Australian local government. He has co-edited and co-authored a number of books on local government, including Australian Local Government: Reform and Renewal (1997), The Political Economy of Local Government (2001), Reshaping Australian Local Government (2003), and Australian Local Government Economics (2006). Moreover, he has published on local government in numerous scholarly journals. Professor Dollery has been involved in the debate over local government restructuring in Australia and has written a number of papers that explore promising alternatives to amalgamation, including various kinds of shared service models. Inn addition, together with his colleagues at the Centre for Local Government, Brian has devoted considerable attention to the thorny problems of local government sustainability in Australia.
The long-run sustainability of Australian local councils has come under intense scrutiny over the past few years. Two federal government reports, several state-based local government inquiries, a national commissioned report, an embryonic but growing academic literature and numerous conferences by peak local government bodies all attest to deep misgivings over the current condition of Australian local government. Various approaches to the analysis of local government sustainability have been developed, most of which focus heavily on the financial dimensions of the problem. This has led to a plethora of putative policy solutions to the problem. This paper provides a synoptic review of previous work in the area and advances a typology of local government sustainability as a potentially useful analytical tool for conceptualizing the problem of local government sustainability.