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CEO meetings start dud talks

… a case can be made that significant operational efficiencies may be gained through consolidation of Council activities into a single facility. Whether such efficiencies are directly related to operating cost through consolidation of functions and resources, or efficiencies in service delivery improvements, (they) should be explored through a detailed business case. The lack of robust analysis and community engagement around wider organisational benefits (including efficiencies, communication and cultural improvements) is symptomatic of the themes identified in this Report.

This is was contained in the Independent Review of the City of Greater Bendigo Final Recommendations Report Review, 28 June 2013, recorded on Page 4 of a document released following widespread community disappointment and anger with the council’s direction and management, and a residents’ petition seeking improvements and efficiencies.

There in black and white the recommendations for a detailed office consolidation business case before the Bendigo Bunch took another decision on the future office accommodation of the officers and staff we pay through rates or rent to service our needs as a community.

No mention of a GovHub rather consolidation of council activities into a single facility. Head servant of the Bendigo Bunch Craig Niemann certainly has some explaining to do on whether a council business plan exists or not. No more ducking and weaving and handpassing to dud GovHub project partner the State Government.

But perhaps, that is part of the game plan of the CEO who was part of a State Government advisory committee just two years (2015) after release of the council review that found:

Adopting a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach to service delivery through co-location of DEDJTR, other local and state government and public sector agencies over time, firstly in Bendigo and Ballarat, followed by Geelong and other regional centres.

The masters of Spring Street had announced a review of its regional economic development strategy and service review model overseen by an external advisory board chaired by former rejected former premier and rejected former Bendigo MP John Brumby assisted by disciples including Craig Niemann.

According to the State Government’s own website, the subsequent Regional Economic Development and Services Review Final Report included recommendations to optimise customer experiences by providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ in regions through co-location over time of DEDJTR and other government and public sector agencies.

In response to the report the government committed to improving rural and regional business support by providing one-stop-shops to house new trade and investment teams and economic development specialists from across government departments and local and Commonwealth governments - now that's not what has happened in Bendigo. Why?

Bendigo Council wrote to the Government advising it would be willing to participate in a feasibility study of such a proposal.

Mr Niemann must have been beside himself, being on the inside and part of the decision-making. The government now had a possible one-stop (GovHub) willing partner to experiment with if it could only get Bendigo’s co-operation.

No problems, he may have said. Within months he had convinced then Mayor Fyffe and Bendigo Council to write to the Government advising it would be willing to participate in a feasibility study of such a proposal. To our knowledge no feasibility study was done.

In the meantime, the highly-paid chiefs in the Bendigo Bunch executive team had supposedly investigated alternative models of office layout and design as part of the broader office accommodation project.

It really does look like another case of Bendigo Bunch doing the State Government’s bidding, ignoring the community and keeping mum about backroom talks that affect the assets of the people of Bendigo.

So Bendigo Bunch: Where are all these reports, studies and business plans or will you just send out copies of State Government policies for one-stop shops that actually won’t exist under the dud GovHub model.

If the joint feasibility study and council’s own detailed business case are not released the public could assume that none exist, and that council disregarded its duty of care and democracy failed in Victoria with the GovHub always being a camouflaged backroom done deal.

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