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Abstract

Australian local government policy makers have traditionally placed great emphasis on forced ‘top-down’ council amalgamation as the main engine of local government reform to the exclusion of other approaches. Drawing on the distinction between structural reform and process reform in local government, this paper examines the Service Review process conducted by the Lake Macquarie City Council over the period 2008 to 2010 as a case study of ‘bottom-up’ internal reform. While the Australian literature on amalgamation has spawned a very useful line of inquiry which has focused on alternative structural models to council mergers, in common with amalgamation most of these alternative models represent different forms of structural change. By contrast, through its analysis of the Lake Macquarie City Council Service Review as a quintessential example of process reform, this paper represents a tentative first step at establishing a parallel Australian literature on models and case studies of internally driven process reform.

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