In the elections of 13 September 2008,
there was a complete regime change in the Shoalhaven.
I am pleased that I made some contribution to achieving that.
I was myself unsuccessful as a candidate...
though it is a great honour to find that having come from nowhere
into the political debate, thousands of people had confidence to vote for me. And I am in many ways pleased not to have been elected as I am more an agent of change, a provocateur of policy, than a long term administrator.
I will continue to observe political developments in the Shoalhaven,
but for the moment - from October 2008 - it is not my place to sustain criticism.
The new leaders need time to find ways of dealing with new problems.
Whether there is general awareness of scale and difficulty of new problems is unclear.
I have made this observation at my personal web site:
I am concerned still that we have, at no level of government in Australia a real sense of the difficulties ahead. Government is pervasively distrusted and many issues will not be solved at federal or state level, or by the machinery of local government. To get any resilient capacity to cope with future issues, especially climate change and fuel and energy costs, will require fundamental new attitudes in the community, shifting away from sitting and waiting for services to working collaboratively. No, I don't imagine we are going to find that easy for Australians, but we have to do it...
The role of local goverment in achieving such a shift is critical, but it requires vision and energy to begin the process... working with communities that are eager to be exemplars.
I am for the time being leaving this web site in place with the ideas for reform which I put forward during the election campaign.
I am happy to assist in advancing any of these ideas (or other matters) if asked.
initiative for change in the
Shoalhaven City Council
I am an independent candidate for Mayor in the Shoalhaven from 2008 to 2012. Local government here (and elsewhere) is in great need of reform. The Shoalhaven can lead this process.
I have called my project Shoalhaven 2020.
We have seen the Prime Minister's 2020 Summit but cannot expect rain to fall locally from that any time soon. Energising community into thinking far ahead is critical, we will need local 2020 processes. We tend too often to consider local government a lowly business, but in fact it is in our local world that we are going to have to encourage communities to solve many rapidly arising problems which are simply not solvable by national policies.
In May I set out foundation principles of transparency, accountability, integrity leadership and community. This web site now sets out:
• a 100 Day plan [click the blue to go to details]
• specific commitments and
• 'Five Pillars of Productivity' - a package of structural and cultural reforms to provide a new and more productive council in support of community.
These proposals are put forward for comment. I wish to be a catalyst for change. Positive results will follow when we discover that we can and may speak positively and build a collective vision.
Of course, none of this is Dennis-dependent. It requires a general attitude change to what is possible with positive community. In fact, there is nothing I can do without that change. Look at the question more broadly... It seems to me that we all face a prompt future of difficult issues which we will not be able to work our way through without positive community and collaborative rather than divisive decision-making processes.
I have experience in working with communities, in making and implementing large areas of government policy. We have come through a period in national history in which communities have become more distrustful and more alienated. If we do not reform local government, if we do not get communities trusting themselves, we are in big trouble as problems of the economy, fuel prices, the environment and social disruption grow in these next few years.
In June 2008 the NSW Department of Local Government published a binding 'Model Code of Conduct' for local government. This document provides principles and defines how elected councils and staff should conduct themselves and see their roles. The Model Code still leaves great freedom for individual councils to build their own structures and ways of doing business.
You can download a brochure I have circulated through the Shoalhaven by clicking here and here (two sides of sheet). My personal web site is aplaceof.info
And gosh, there is nothing hide-able when the google search engine chases you!
Click here for a google search for Dennis Argall.
I have been maintaining a blog since May, here. More thoughts and background than constant news.
I commend these two simple documents (pdf downloads) as ways of addressing issues:
• a page from the US on healthy versus unhealthy approaches to discussion,
• a page from Professor Stuart Hill of the University of Western Sydney, on practicality.
Please write to me or phone 02 4421 3840 with your ideas.