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Corporate planning

What is the Corporate Plan?

The Local Government Corporate Plan is an outward looking document that provides a picture of how the Local Government's present and future community should look and feel.  It is a strategic document that takes a vision and reflects that through objectives and actions towards a result.

The Operational Plan is an annual step towards that result.  Both the Corporate Plan and the Operational Plan must be structured within the bounds of the resources available to the Local Government.  Long term financial planning is therefore a critical element of successful Corporate Planning.

Statutory Requirements

The statutory requirements for Local Government Corporate Plans are located in the Local Government Act 1993 (LGA) and the Local Government Finance Standards (LGFS).

They require (in brief):

  • A plan to be adopted by resolution
  • The period of the plan to be specified and be at least 4 years
  • Be open for inspection for 30 days before adoption
  • The consultation process to be reported in the plan
  • Include assessment of local & regional issues, external and internal factors affecting the LG area and the responses
  • A statement of strategic direction and objectives and strategies for achieving outcomes
  • Section 16 of the LGFS requires responses in the plan to a number of Local Government roles
  • The Operational Plan must reflect the strategies in the Corporate Plan
  • The budget must reflect the Operational Plan


This needs to be closely monitored in this process.

Section 25 Jurisdiction of local government  (LGA) states: "Each local government has jurisdiction (the "jurisdiction of local government") to make local laws for, and otherwise ensure, the good rule and government of, its territorial unit."

Section 511 Compliance with corporate and operational plans (LGA) states "A local government's exercise of the jurisdiction of local government must be consistent with its corporate plan and operational plan."

These sections show there is now a very distinct link between the Corporate Plan and the jurisdiction of Council.  Council is therefore on unsteady legal ground where it exercises power outside the jurisdiction it has specified in the Corporate Plan.

Sorting Out Council's Role and Jurisdiction
This can be assisted by gathering information from local stakeholders through a community consultation process.  Stakeholders include Councillors, Council staff and contractors, residents, business and the community in general. 

Information such as the demographics ie. growth, income, unemployment etc will provide indicators of some of the needs within the community.

A suggested way of starting the planning process and determining roles for Council is to complete a matrix exercise.  If all the proposed actions by Council are determined in this manner the required jurisdiction issues should be covered.

Examples Only




Service Delivery/Law Enforcement




Support local funding application for funds – Clean Up Australia Day

Support LGAQ by media releasing regarding land fill remediation grants

Provide waste management services – landfill site and wheelie bin service

Bring together EPA, LG, community to consider future landfill needs

Develop regional landfill in conjunction with neighbouring Council

Water Management


Raise issue with EPA management in regard to water reuse guidelines

Provide water and wastewater services

Bring together community, DNRM& E, Council, Sunwater to consider concerns over water allocation






Facilitate the development of local land care groups

Participate in NHT program




Library services



A matrix such as this is very useful in directing the requests from the community into actions by the Local Government.  Often the community will communicate a need which Council sees is outside of its "service delivery/law enforcement" jurisdiction.  Council may wish then to take on a lobbying role or a partnering role.

For example if the issue of aged housing is raised during community consultation then Council may wish to take the choice of becoming the service provider, lobby State Government to be the provider, facilitate a developer to become the provider or partner with the State and/or a developer on the service provision.

Once information has been packaged this way objectives and strategies for achieving outcomes can be determined and the Corporate Plan can begin to take shape.

Corporate Plans Should Follow the SMART Initiative

SPECIFIC - does it clearly state Council's aim and objectives?

MEASURABLE  - can Council's objectives be assessed/measured for Council and Community reporting?

ACHIEVABLE  - can the aims and objectives be achieved given the present resourcing?

REALISTIC  - can objectives be achieved whilst dealing with the unforeseen challenges, and available staff?

TIMELY  - has adequate time been provided, given other priorities and changes in legislation that may present themselves?


There is a three monthly requirement for reporting by the CEO of achievements towards the Operational and Corporate Plan.  This reporting should include some non financial measurement data that shows progress towards target outputs and achievements.

Options for measurement:

  • Statistics
  • Target percentage or numbers achieved

Example: 100 invoices processed is a very low level statistic.  100 % of invoices processed within the target timeframe of 2 days is a measurement of achievement.  The target might be 98%.

Although this examples are very low level and operational based it is a good simple example of the difference between statistics and targets.

At a strategic level the measurement items are more sophisticated but could relate to formal bi-annual surveying of the community or random in house developed survey tools.  Resources again often drive the solution.

LGAQ is working towards developing social capital indicators that will be high level strategic indicators about the wellbeing of the overall community.  These very high indicators are possibly the best measurement tools for Corporate Plan level.

Operational Plan measurement tools might focus in the mid range.  For example, with water and wastewater, the use of one indicator might be sufficient.  This might be number of non compliance with EPA standards.  Annual target might be less than 5.

Low level measures are better suited to operational improvements as the community is less focused on them.  If the waste service has been delivered weekly for 30 years the community focus would only appear if there is a missed bin or scattered waste.  This is not necessarily a measure of the performance of Local Government in this service delivery.

The ABS report Measuring Social Capital, An Australian Framework and Indicators has plenty of ideas on how you might structure Corporate Plan  performance benchmarks.  There is also a range of indicators for measurement that are more likely to reflect the strategic deliverables of the Council rather than the operational ones currently in use by many Councils.


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