Member - Ray Smith, PSM, Fellow

General Manager, Bland Shire Council

Tell us about how you started your career in local government?

My career in local government commenced on 6 January 1971 when I was appointed as a trainee rates clerk at Baulkham Hills Shire Council. It was the first job I applied for after completing my Higher School Certificate.!

What is the key to longevity in the sector?

I believe that the key to longevity in the local government industry involves a number of factors:  Being prepared to accept change and to focus on the benefits of that change. To embrace the role and responsibilities of a local council, in particular, the opportunities that exist to improve and enhance the lifestyle of the communities in which you work. To undertake studies in your preferred area of expertise and to participate in ongoing professional development. To be honest and forthright in all of your dealings with fellow staff, elected representatives and the local community.

Weethalle Silo Art Project Bland Shire Council

What benefits have you enjoyed from your membership?

Have you benefited from participation in any LG Professionals, NSW events or professional development opportunities? I have been a member of Local Government Professionals NSW now for 36 years having commenced my membership with the NSW Town Clerks Society and then transitioning to the NSW Institute of Municipal Management, to Local Government Managers Australia to the present day.

I have made an effort to be involved in my professional association as follows:

  • President of the Metropolitan Group of the IMM
  • President of the North Coast Group of the LGMA

I have also attended the majority of the annual conferences along with attendance at numerous forums and meetings, all of which has provided me with greater insight into the local government sector and the networking has been invaluable. The strength of any professional organisation can be measured by the level of involvement by its members. What piece of advice do you want to share with others entering the sector? My advice to anyone entering the local government sector now is be prepared to work hard, to embrace change, to develop your skills and to act with integrity because the rewards will be enormous.

Bland Flavour Festival

What do you wish that others knew about the work of council, that they are unaware of?

Unfortunately, local government does not promote itself well enough, despite the best efforts of Local Government Professionals and the Local Government Excellence Awards. Local councils are doing amazing and innovative things for the benefit of so many communities on a daily basis. Herein lies a message for all general managers: Allow your staff the freedom and opportunity to come forward with their ideas of new and different ways of doing things. Create an atmosphere of optimism. As much as we, as general managers, like to think so, we don’t know everything!

What do you wish would change about the way government works?

Despite the establishment of Joint Organisations and the promise of an improved relationship between state and local government in NSW there is still an air of ‘mistrust’ being displayed by state government agencies when dealing with local councils. In order for NSW to thrive there needs to be an ‘honest’ working relationship between to the two levels of government to ensure the effective delivery of the many services, facilities and infrastructure required by our communities.