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Local Government Services

As one of Australia's best known economic consulting firms, Access Economics is available to provide expert economic, financial and policy advice to local government.

Local governments across Australia are facing increasingly complex economic and financial challenges from:
  • national climate change policies which will impact differentially across local and regional Australia;
  • increasing infrastructure renewal and expansion demands, which will be increasingly more difficult to finance just from annual rates and charges;
  • demographic change (the greying of the population) and internal population shifts (such as 'seachange');
  • ratepayers (and best practice within local government), with increased emphasis on financial sustainability;
  • state governments, with increased financial accountability requirements and the need for long-term financial plans and associated budgetary projections.
Building on its involvement with local government in recent years, and the range of hands-on experience of its team of consultants, Access Economics is well placed to assist individual councils and state departments/offices of local government in scoping out and meeting these challenges - and at a realistic cost.

Our services

Economic assessments
  • Impact of prospective internally or externally developed policy proposals, economic development activity or climate change impacts on councils and local and regional economies.
Independent financial assessments
  • Arms' length assessments of current and future financial performance and sustainability for individual councils.
  • Prudential review and cost benefit analyses of specific spending proposals.
Financial performance improvement
  • Responses to independent and internal assessments of councils' financial performance and sustainability.
  • Long-term financial planning.
  • Advice on development of and adjustments to financial policies and strategies, including how to deal with deficits and consideration of inter-generational equity.
  • Rating and other revenue raising reviews.
  • Debt, leasing and investments management policies.
  • Evaluation of resource sharing, contracting out and other alternative means of service delivery.
Financial governance advice
  • Financial governance policy and process improvement design specific to a council's circumstances.
  • Training programs for council members and staff.

Examples of our work
  • Significant work recently undertaken across the local government sector and with individual councils includes:
  • analysing councils' financial positions and performance relative to key financial indicators and benchmarks;
  • modelling the outlook for a council's finances over the next ten years, using scenarios for alternative infrastructure and service provision;
  • reviewing council financial governance policies and processes against good practice and suggesting improvements;
  • examining the equity and efficiency of funding arrangements with federal and state governments;
  • assessing proposals to reform local/federal financial relations.
An example of some of Access Economics' public reports follow:

Our local government team

Access Economics' local government team is lead by:
Dr Ric Simes, Director, 02 9220 0600
John Comrie, Consultant, 08 8350 0223

Dr Ric Simes

  • Since 2004, economic and policy consultant for Access Economics and, previously, Charles River Associates International.  Specific expertise includes fiscal policy at both federal and state government levels, and funding and financing of urban infrastructure.
  • Member of the New South Wales Government's Reference Panel for its 'Metropolitan Strategy'.
  • Senior positions in two international financial institutions - NM Rothschild (Aust) and the brokerage firm ICAP (1996-2004).
  • Senior Economics Adviser to the Prime Minister (1992-1996).
  • Various positions in the Commonwealth Treasury (1975-1991).
John Comrie
  • Since 2006, as a Consultant focussing on local government financial management and governance and state/local government relations issues.  He has led and delivered much of the LGA of SA's ongoing comprehensive education and training program developed to assist SA councils respond to the SA financial sustainability inquiry including drafting much of the associated support material.  He has also undertaken financial reviews/assistance programs for individual SA councils.
  • Executive Director, Office of State/Local Government Relations, South Australian Government, where he initiated and directed work to reform local government legislation relating to financial governance (eg:  mandated long-term asset management and financial plans, audit committees) (2003-2006).
  • Executive Director, Local Government Association of South Australia, where he applied his previous experience as a local government CEO and CFO to support the ongoing development of the SA local government sector as well as actively contributing to national work on public finance matters of importance to local government (1997-2003).

Other Access Economics' consultants are called upon, to suit the task at hand.
Economic Consulting
Local Government Services
Health Economics