2023 End of Year Newsletter

Climate Action: The Role of Local Government

by Darcy Coleman, Research Analyst & Consultant at Delos Delta

“Earth is likely to surpass the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees within the next decade” (Perkins, O’Malley, 2023).

If you found that a lot to take in, I don’t blame you. Over the past decade, there has been such a dramatic increase in disaster level news that many of us are completely desensitised to it.  Information detailing the climate crisis immediately falls into this category.  Take, for example, the statement above.  Hearing that we will surpass the 1.5-degree warming mark incites moderate concern, but it doesn’t exactly paint the picture of a scorched earth.  It’s hard to be afraid of something that seems so arbitrary.

Well to be completely candid, we should be.  Allow me to paint a clearer picture.

The Climate Context

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty that was agreed upon by 196 countries in 2015.  The overarching goal was, and remains, to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels (United Nations Climate Change, 2016).  This metric, although hard to comprehend its associated consequences, is an incredibly important one.  For every one-degree increase in global average temperature, the frequency and intensity of climate associated disasters increases tenfold.

To give an idea of this, the Earth is currently sitting at an increase of 0.9˚C from pre-industrial levels, and we are experiencing an:

  • Increased fire risk (Canadell et al. 2021)
    • Extended fire season period
    • Bushfire intensity and frequency have increased
    • Increased amount of high fire danger days
    • Larger fire-affected area
  • Increased cyclone frequency and strength (Kossin et al. 2020)
  • Accelerating rate of rising global sea levels (NOAA, 2022)
  • Increased risk of extreme flooding events (Goodwin et al. 2017)
    • What were ‘once-a-century’ flooding events are now occurring every few years

In Australia, it is hard to ignore these consequences.  Over the last two years alone, millions of every day Australians endured the Black Summer bushfires of 2020, and the Eastern Australia floods of 2021 – and that’s only at an increased temperature of 0.9˚C.

There is, however, a surge of action and optimism stirring across the globe.  Despite the likelihood of breaching the 1.5˚C Paris Agreement target, the Agreement has catalysed and facilitated a global climate action agenda, which in turn has produced the largest coherent policy creation the world has experienced.  Climate action is occurring through renewable energy procurement, sustainable practice, and innovative policy across hundreds of countries, with just over 70 nations committing to net zero emissions by 2030 (United Nations, 2022).  Yet these national policies and commitments require critical input from one heavily overlooked contributor to achieve tangible results.  It is local government, who create place-specific policy and facilitate palpable climate action, that are allowing the global climate agenda to be realised.

The Role of Local Government

Often overlooked by its state and national counterparts, the local government role has been and will continue to be vital in keeping to below a 2˚C total warming.  It is crucial that local government continues to accelerate climate action, as they are the frontline in facilitating the greater climate agenda, producing real-world measures to positively affect their communities.  Currently, there exist multiple ways in which local governments and municipal councils alike are participating in climate change practices.

Climate Leadership

A common misconception many have when considering the leading entities in climate action is that national and state governments are the primary facilitators in sustainability and climate policy.  Whilst this is mostly true, what is often unnoticed is how local and municipal governments lead in sustainable practice through tangible action.  Rather than the broad strategies and commitments developed by state and national government which aren’t frequently noticed by the general public, local government exemplify climate action to their community through physical measures.  This creates on-the-ground momentum, which if instigated in each municipality, is the fastest pathway to the adoption of the global climate agenda. 

Action Plan Development and Climate Resilience

Local governments can create comprehensive plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as setting emissions reduction targets, increasing renewable energy usage, promoting energy-efficient buildings and transportation, and reducing waste.  These plans provide a roadmap for reducing emissions in the short and long term and can help guide decision-making and resource allocation.  Further, local governments, as the curators of key public infrastructure, play the critical role of ensuring their communities are resilient to the impending consequences of climate change.  As noted, surpassing the 1.5˚C warming goal is highly likely – therefore, it is essential communities have the technology, infrastructure, and processes available to mitigate the effects of climate disasters.

Incentives and Partnerships

Local governments can provide incentives for individuals and businesses to adopt more sustainable practices, such as rebates for purchasing electric vehicles or installing solar panels.  These incentives, alongside the facilitation of public-private partnerships, can help reduce the cost of transitioning to more sustainable practices and can encourage more widespread adoption of sustainable technologies.

Green and Smart Infrastructure

Local governments can invest in green infrastructure, such as parks, green roofs, and permeable pavement, which can reduce urban heat island effects, improve air quality, and mitigate stormwater runoff.  Green infrastructure can also help provide additional benefits, such as creating green spaces for recreation and improving the overall quality of life in a community.  Further, several smart technologies exist, including smart bins and smart water meters, which utilise IoT (internet of things) systems to collect data and direct local governments to informed, sustainable decision making.

Education and Innovation

Local governments can also educate their communities on the impacts of climate change and ways they can reduce their own carbon footprint.  This can include outreach campaigns on energy efficiency, recycling, and transportation options, as well as education on the risks and impacts of climate change on their communities.  Facilitating innovation hubs is also a highway to developing local solutions for local problems, which is the best route for scalable outcomes.

A Greener Future

It is from local government actions, such as policy and strategy development, infrastructure commitments, and innovation facilitation, that we see tangible results in our communities.  For climate action, it is no different.  Local government should be further encouraged, appreciated, and applauded for the ongoing on-the-ground efforts in actioning the climate agenda.  It is essential that these efforts be built upon and fostered by both state and national levels of government.  With such a critical role, local government climate action will put us as a society onto the pathway of a greener, safer, secure future.



Canadell et al., “Multi-decadal increase of forest burned area in Australia is linked to climate change” (2021) Nature Communications, 12 (6921).

“For a livable climate: Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action”, United Nations, 2022, https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/net-zero-coalition#:~:text=Yes%2C%20a%20growing%20coalition%20of,about%2076%25%20of%20global%20emissions

Goodwin et al., “A new approach to projecting 21st century sea-level changes and extremes” (2017) Earth’s Future, 5 (2).

Kossin et al., “Global increase in major tropical cyclone exceedance probability over the past four decades” (2020) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (22).

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “The IPCC Climate Change 2022 Impacts Report: Why it matters” (2022) NOAA, https://www.noaa.gov/stories/ipcc-climate-change-2022-impacts-report-why-it-matters

Perkins, Miki; O’Malley, Nick, “We have everything we need to fix the climate crisis. But we need to do it now” Sydney Morning Herald, 2023, https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/we-have-everything-we-need-to-fix-the-climate-crisis-but-we-need-to-do-it-now-20230320-p5cthx.html

The Paris Agreement, United Nations Climate Change, 2016, https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement

Local Government: On the Frontline of Service Delivery and Unfair Criticism 

by Anna Wilson, General Manager at Delos Delta

‘Roads, rates and rubbish’ is the classic trope to describe Council services, but in reality, local governments play a much larger role in supporting their communities and strengthening democratic principles. 

Across NSW and Victoria there have been calls to abolish and amalgamate local government for the past 30 years.  Recent polling conducted by Redbridge Group in Victoria towards the end of 2022 suggested that, 57% of those polled were supportive of wholesale council mergers, while 45% supported scrapping local governments altogether. 

 As the frontline face of government in Australia, Councils cop a lot of criticism.  However, there are three key points that this criticism fails to consider: 

  1. The changing role and expectations of local governments  
  2. The funding challenges and inequalities  
  3. The flawed premise that fewer levels of government automatically equals greater efficiency.


The role of local government has changed. 

Globally speaking, as accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, governments are trending towards de-centralisation – the transfer of funding and responsibilities from a national government to sub-national governments.  This shift is motivated generally by a desire to promote democratic accountability, and to better address the requirements of specific suburban areas demographically distinct from others (OECD, 2019).  

COVID-19 demonstrated this shift in responsibilities which saw local governments delivering economic support programs, digital literacy training, and other activities that are far from ‘traditional’.  This gap in local service delivery left by other levels of government is not only essential but can also target the individual needs of the community.  

The changes in our expectations around the role of local governments was demonstrated in a recent representative study conducted by Australian Catholic University.  Despite 7 in 10 Australians suggesting that Councils should only focus on delivering basic services, 8 in 10 Australians suggested Councils should also be involved in shaping their region beyond roads, rates and rubbish.  This ‘shaping’ role included promoting the development of local identities and culture and providing forums to discuss national issues. There was also a focus on services that support planning for the future, health, and community development (Chou, Busbridge & Rutledge-Prior, 2023). 

So, despite having the foundational belief that local government should only deliver basic services, communities are increasingly relying on, and expecting services that cover wider social, economic and environmental issues. 


Current funding structures do not set local government up for success. 

Put simply, councils are under-resourced. However, the broadening scope of Council responsibilities and inadequate levels of support from state and federal governments is leading to misconceptions of inefficiency or inability. 

Local government spending is heavily scrutinised at a local level, and rightfully requires demonstrated value for money and public accountability.  However, unlike state and federal governments, local government functions and services (e.g., asset management and maintenance) have limited scope for revenue raising. There are only two local governments across all of the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand that exceed 5% of total revenue through these ‘alternative’ (non-rate, non-fine, non-grant) streams (SGS Economics, 2023). 

Current funding arrangements mean Councils must maintain approximately 33% of all public assets, while collecting only 3.5% of Australia’s total tax revenue (SGS Economics, 2023).  Additionally, only 14% of total local government funding is provided by state and federal government support (Australian Local Government Association, 2021). 

So, while the expectations of Council service delivery are expanding, the funding afforded to their delivery is decreasing.  This puts local governments in a situation where they need to deliver more with the same funding support as previous service requirements, and little opportunity to seek alternative revenue options.  


Mergers and abolitions lack efficiency  

Most commonly, those who support merging or abolishing local governments argue that these measures will achieve ‘economies of scale’ through a more effective distribution of resources over a larger area. 

This argument has little (if any) basis in practice.  Merging and/or abolishing local governments is not a silver bullet for savings.  Evidence suggests the size of a public jurisdiction has no systematic effect on the cost effectiveness of that jurisdiction (Blom-Hansen, Houlberg and Serritzlew, 2021).  In practice, savings generated by up-scaling are likely to be offset by increased costs associated with losing the benefits of a small jurisdiction, including (per Blom-Hansen et al, 2016): 

  • Ease of local monitoring 
  • More efficient democratic accountability, and  
  • Greater competition for residents between LGAs, compelling each to provide optimal services. 

Ultimately, abolition of local government in favour of state governments risk the creation of large, pseudo-local governments with limited democratic representation of the community and thus decreased sensitivity to local needs.    

As such, local governments are best placed to deliver local services.  This was confirmed by the ACU research which found that 67% of Australians believe that local government is best able to make decisions about the local area.  Within Councils there is also a strong desire to deliver benefits and value to their communities.  In the past five engagements conducted by Delos Delta with Council staff, increasing efficiencies and the delivery of enhanced benefits to local communities were identified as top objectives for Council activities.   



Having discussed the unique capacities of local government and the risks inherent in abolishing them, this article concludes with a series of practical steps councils can take (in partnership with state and federal governments) to build residential support for their operations and to maximise their performance quality. 

1. Ongoing engagement with communities 

Councils should take advantage of their close connection to the community by regularly engaging with residents to determine key spending priorities and promote the value and benefits of projects, range of services, and local opportunities available. 

2. Advocate for funding reform 

State and federal decision-makers should be reminded of the importance of supplying local governments with adequate resourcing to enable the delivery of their expansive range of responsibilities. 

 3. Seek financially productive partnerships 

In lieu of sufficient funding from higher levels of government, councils should act proactively in procuring innovative, alternative revenue streams through appropriate private sector partnerships and collaborations.  




ALGA, Background on Local Government Funding ALGA, 2019: https://alga.com.au/policy-centre/financial-sustainability/background-on-local-government-funding/ 

Blom-Hansen, Houlberg and Serritzlew, Jurisdiction size and local government effectiveness: Assessing the effects of municipal amalgamations on performance, 2020: https://ejpr.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/1475-6765.12394?saml_referrer 

Blom-Hansen et al, Jurisdiction Size and Local Government Policy Expenditure: Assessing the Effect of Municipal Amalgamation, 2016: https://typeset.io/pdf/jurisdiction-size-and-local-government-policy-expenditure-3geht7mkw1.pdf 

Chou, Busbridge, and Rutledge-Prior, The Changing Role of Local Government in Australia: National Survey Findings. ACU Research Centre for Social and Political Change, 2023: https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2023-02/apo-nid321483.pdf 

SGS Economics, Alternative Sources of Funding, 2022: https://media.ruralcouncilsvictoria.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/13085030/20220153-RCV-own-source-income-Updated-Final-report-221212.pdf 

OECD, Making Decentralisation Work; A Handbook for Policy-Makers: https://www.oecd.org/cfe/Policy%20highlights_decentralisation-Final.pdf 

Large Scale Waste Recycling in the ACT

Fyshwick would be worse off with waste facilities than Hume: report

Delos Delta prepared a rapid economic impact assessment of large-scale waste recycling in the ACT, specifically comparing the locations of Fyshwick versus Hume.

The goal was to understand which location would deliver a better economic outcome for the ACT as a whole.

While the analysis focuses on a subset of the total economic impacts, our findings are clear: Hume is a better location for large-scale waste recycling activities.

Our report highlights that Fyshwick is moving away from its traditional industrial base towards a mixed-use commercial environment.  Accordingly, any large-scale waste recycling facility in Fyshwick would have a significant negative impact, on traffic and property values in particular, with flow on impacts to government revenue, rental returns and employment, which are the focus of our analysis.

Overall, there appear to be benefits for establishing new, innovative waste management processes.  If a facility of this type does proceed in the ACT, Hume should be the preferred location, from both an economic and a planning perspective

Read the full Canberra Times article or Download the Large Scale Waste Recycling in the ACT Report

Wodonga Innovation Project

Since late 2019, Delos Delta have partnered with the Wodonga community to design and establish the Wodonga Innovation Project (WIP).  

This story below first appeared in the Border Mail on the 22nd of January 2021. 

Let’s make Wodonga a hub of innovation

Wodonga is prospecting, staking a claim to become an innovation powerhouse. It is searching for future generations of entrepreneurs to develop and nurture. The aim is to become a hub of economic opportunity – a breeding ground for innovators, start-ups and new technology.

Last year was a challenging one. COVID-19 imposed uncertainty and upheaval across Australia. But 2020 also proved to be a year of renewal for Wodonga, with the launch of the Wodonga Innovation Project.

The Innovation Project is building local innovation skills and connections, helping local businesses and entrepreneurs to create new jobs and industry for the region.

Chair Steve Martin says: “The long-term goal is to position Wodonga and region as a hub of innovation – a place for investment, ideas, partnership and economic opportunity. The disruptions of COVID-19 have reinforced the value of innovation and resilience. When change comes, innovation mitigates the negative impacts, and generates new economic opportunities.”

The project’s establishment was supported by funding from the state government and Wodonga Council.

Delos Delta and the Canberra Innovation Network, innovation and technology experts based in Canberra, were engaged to design the project. As a first step, in late 2019 Delos Delta and CBRIN facilitated workshops in Wodonga to identify local priorities. The Innovation Project was welcomed by local innovators, businesses and organisations. This broad base of support is reflected in the Innovation Project Steering Committee, with representatives from business and associations, local governments, the Victorian government, Charles Sturt and La Trobe universities.

The Innovation Project was ready in early 2020. More than 100 people were expected at the launch event. Innovation programs, accelerators and incubators were poised to roll out. Then COVID-19 hit, ruling out face-to-face events and activities for most of 2020.

But the economic disruption and uncertainty made the Innovation Project even more important for the local economy. So, COVID was never allowed to slow down the project. It would always be full-steam ahead. The project rapidly pivoted to digital interaction and virtual events. The development of the Wodonga Innovation Project website was fast-tracked. Social media accounts became the main point of interaction and communication. Steering committee meetings were held via Zoom. Innovation programs moved to digital modes. A local innovation co-ordinator, John Elgin (CEO of Murray-Hume Business Enterprise Centre) was engaged to maintain momentum “on the ground”. Two flagship programs of 2020 exemplify the project’s purpose and energy: the Youth Innovation Program and the Wodonga Accelerator.

The Youth Innovation Program ran for three months via online workshops, aiming to develop the entrepreneurial skills and innovation capacity of youth aged 15-25. The program linked teams of young people in the Albury-Wodonga region with local business and innovation mentors, to develop, test and discuss their innovative ideas.  For the 16 young participants, the program culminated in an “innovation pitch” to a panel of experts, where they presented their innovative ideas, products and proposals.

Grace King, 19, won the top award, picking up $1000 for her Plastics to Products pitch. She proposed using emerging technology to turn soft-plastic waste into new products, reducing local waste and creating local manufacturing opportunities. Her pitch combined business, technology, economic development and sustainability. We’re looking forward to the next steps.

The second flagship program of 2020 was the Wodonga Accelerator. Delivered via digital workshops, it covered topics such as customer validation, prototyping, business models and raising capital.  More than 20 local businesses and innovators took part.

Mr Elgin said: “The accelerator program pushes local businesses and entrepreneurs to turn their great ideas into new products and services. By forming a cohort of like-minded innovators and moving together through a disciplined pathway, the accelerator rapidly catalyses new business ventures.”

The Innovation Project promises more in 2021. The team will expand the project as a regional innovation network supporting the entire region, collaborating with Albury and Wodonga councils. The project will also align innovation activity with the federal government’s Albury-Wodonga Regional Deal. This year will also bring a host of new innovation, events and programs.

According to Mr Martin: “It’s going to be a big year for innovation in Wodonga and region. We’re looking to deliver a range of programs, both digital and face-to-face, that will build local skills, create new partnerships, increase our national profile and spark new business.”

Another accelerator program, networking events and webinars with international innovation experts are just a few of the highlights. Everyone is welcome to participate – innovators, businesses, individuals, students, researchers, government officials, community groups and beyond.

We want to build a broad and vibrant network of local innovators, where collaboration and competition generate new ventures, investments and industry.


Author: Brook Dixon – Managing Director of Delos Delta and Innovation Project Co-ordinator, Wodonga Innovation Project. 

Dirty Data, Done Dirt Cheap

Let’s start with a trick question. What type of company is Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, Alibaba or Tencent? If you answered ‘data’, you are ahead of the curve in understanding new business models.

In 2017, The Economist declared “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. In 2020 just Facebook, Alphabet, Apple and Amazon have market capitalisation of $US5 trillion, with revenues of US$773 billion.

Alone, data is not much use to anyone except boffins. These data companies, and smart organisations across the globe, are demonstrating that activated data provides insights that drive better decisions. We are hearing leaders and voters demanding better information, nowhere has this been more evident that keeping the community informed during COVID.

Are you ready? Be honest. If not, it is okay, you can start now with small steps.

In our experience, the essential first step is doing some boring bits. No matter if you are in government, not for profit, or private entities these bits include—clear data governance, capability uplift at all levels, structured coordination mechanisms, clear and repeatable business processes, supporting architecture, communication across the data value chain and supporting these with the right mix of tools (applications and infrastructure).

Doing nothing is always an option, but this will cement some of the consistent challenges we are seeing in the activation of data. Again, reflecting on practical experiences, these challenges include siloed and single channel thinking, systemic data illiteracy, bootstrapped approaches from legacy systems, key person and ‘need to know’ approaches, and fragmented policies and practices.

Action is happening around Australia. We are seeing many local governments thinking big about their approach to data, changes in infrastructure towards cloud options, transitions from traditional to digital interfaces and, of course, the emergence of smart city data being used to drive decisions.

One word of warning. There is absolutely, positively, no single silver bullet to fix all your data challenges. There is a universe of approaches that sound great, but they still need to be driven by the needs of your whole organisations—single product decisions without the boring bits may conflate the challenges you already have.

Taking steps towards an activated data system, to underpin better decisions and inform your customers will keep you lockstep with emerging market trends, potentially lower the cost of service delivery and build a beautiful relationship with your customers.

Reach out for a conversation if you are ready to take some steps but don’t know where to start. We would love to be a partner in your modernisation.

Googong Smart Precinct

Smart Community Blueprint & Awards Finalist

Congratulations to Peet, Mirvac Residential, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, and Onewifi & Infrastructure for joining esteemed company as finalists for the Smart Cities Week ANZ Future of Place Award.

This consortium worked together to imagine and deliver the Googong Smart Community Project.

The Project aims to integrate forward thinking and smart technology into the foundations of community development, setting a new benchmark for smart city deployment in cities and suburbs around Australia.  The Googong development will eventually comprise of five connected neighbourhoods – home to around 18,000 people in 6,500 dwellings.

The Googong Smart Community Blueprint was also support by the Australia Government under the Smart Cities and Suburbs program.

Delos Delta are proud to have partnered with Googong and the Smart Googong project team to deliver this collaborative and future-focused project.


2020 Wrap Up

2020 has been a year of change for all

The rapid pace of urbanisation and technological developments, combined with the challenges of a global pandemic, have forced organisations and communities to reimagine the way they live, work and connect.

Delos Delta have worked with clients to address these challenges and are aiming to build resilience, intelligence and innovation.

We have harnessed our smart transformation expertise to expand our digital capacity and data systems to support full online, remote and intelligent consultation, client support and general operations.

Below are some of our key highlights from 2020:

  • Developing smart transformation frameworks, strategies and action plans for a range of clients.  These include the Smart Casey Launchpad, the Smart City Strategic Framework for the City of Greater Geelong, the Norwood Payneham & St Peters Smart City Plan and the Port Macquarie-Hastings Smart Community Roadmap.
  • Supporting economic development, resilience and reinvigoration by providing dedicated strategies, plans and organisational reviews for clients including Blue Mountains City Council, Charters Towers Regional Council and more.
  • Encouraging innovation and unlocking the benefits of innovation networks and partnerships for clients like Wodonga Council.
  • Building better, smarter, more sustainable places that promote inclusivity, connectivity and innovation.  These projects include the Googong Smart Precinct and Maribyrnong City Council SC2 Project.
  • Helping organisations, such as Glenelg Shire Council and the City of Greater Geelong, to improve their capacity to harness the potential of big data, and better manage their data processes.
  • Delivering targeted community and corporate planning, supported by close stakeholder consultation. Projects include planning long-term, better futures for clients such as the City of Wanneroo and Charters Towers Regional Council.
  • Delos Delta has progressed innovation and inclusivity in our growing team by partnering with Curijo to provide cultural awareness training to our team, enhancing our commitment to reconciliation. We also provided advanced IAP2 stakeholder engagement training to our senior consultants.

Delos Delta would like to thank our clients, partners, associates and team for their commitment to innovating, growing and supporting development in the face of the unknown and the difficult.

We look forward to expanding and sharing our expertise to support smart transformation, economic development and better governance in 2021.

North Sydney Council

Smart City Strategy & SCCANZ Recognition

Congratulations to North Sydney Council whose Smart City Strategy was highly commended in the Policy Leadership category of the 2020 Smart Cities Awards powered by Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand.

Building on existing digital and smart technology projects, North Sydney launched their Smart City Strategy in 2019.  Recent highlights include:

  • Installing 10 EV charging stations in carparks
  • Implementing an electronic lodgement system for development applications
  • Approving planning for a co-working space
  • Developing a suite of new online forms
  • Installing solar photovoltaics on the shed roofs at Coal Loader
  • Delivering the “Tech Help for Seniors” program

Delos Delta is proud to have to have partnered with Council to develop this Strategy and comprehensive Implementation/Action plans.

New Melbourne Offices

Delos Delta landing in Victoria

Delos Delta are excited to announce that in January 2021 we will be opening a new headquarters in Melbourne.

Our new base is set to provide closer support to our Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian clients, and allow us to work more closely with our interstate associates.

Reach out to find out more and to connect with our Melbourne team!