April 2017


LGFA - In The Loop

In this edition:
Change of Chair at LGFA
Your Experts View
Who is Paul Slater?
The Boardroom

Change of Chair at LGFA:

John Comrie

The New Year has brought about a large amount of change to the board of the LGFA. Three new board members were welcomed at the February board meeting being; John Comrie (LGA nominee & Financial Consultant), Dr Andrew Johnson (LGA nominee & CEO of Port Pirie Council) and Annette Martin (LGFA elected member & Manager Finance City of Charles Sturt).

As the LGFA’s previous chairman was not re-nominated to the LGFA Board, the newly formed representatives were called on to appoint a new Chair.  The elected Chairman is John Comrie, and John Frogley was re-elected as Deputy Chair. 

John Comrie is well known to many of those in Local Government. John has been the CEO of a local Council, Executive Director of the LGA, Executive Director of the Office of State/Local Government Relations and more recently runs a consulting business and amongst other things chairs a number of Council Audit Committees around the State.

John is the Author of “Debt is not a Dirty Word,” a publication he prepared with the assistance of the ACELG and the Institute of Public Works and Engineering Australia. John is a strong advocate of Councils responsibly using debt and thinks that as a whole the local government sector has an extraordinarily low level of debt relatively to its operational circumstances. He feels that it is simply not possible for many councils to make significant improvement in their financial, asset management and service delivery performance without greater and better use of debt.

If you're interested in reading more information, below are a couple of links.

Debt is Not a Dirty Word

The role and use of debt in local government

Financial Sustainability Information Paper 10 - Debt

We congratulate John Comrie on his appointment and John Frogley on his re-appointment.

Your Experts View On The Markets

Global financial markets took a breather over the past couple of months as the volatility experienced after the election of President Trump subsided. The new US administration has yet to provide a lot of detail on the large fiscal program announced at his acceptance speech and are yet to provide costing on the proposed cuts to the corporate tax rate. So far this has not phased markets reflected by the Dow Jones industrial average recently posting an all-time high. In mid-March the US Federal Reserve increased the US Federal Reserve rate by 0.25% taking the benchmark rate to a range between 0.75-1.00%. This move was widely anticipated by the market however the accompanying statement was more dovish than expected so medium & long term yields drifted lower around the globe.

Australian financial markets were also subdued over the past few months. The Australian equity market has also performed well and the price of iron and coal, 2 of our major exports, have remained at elevated levels compared to the past couple of years. GDP data released in late February showed that the Australian economy grew by 1.1% in the September 2016 to December 2016 quarter, taking the year on year figure up to 2.4%, which is still higher than most advanced economies.
The RBA meet in February and March this year and left the cash rate on hold on both occasions. The accompanying statements were unchanged to those released late last year and it still feels that the RBA are comfortable with the current accommodative interest rate settings. Current futures pricing reflects this view with the market currently predicting no change to the cash rate this year.

Meet Paul Slater

Paul has been the CEO of the LGFA for almost 20 years and has seen the LGFA grow from strength to strength.  What you don't know about Paul is.....

What was your first job?
My first fulltime job was with the Pyrmont branch of the Commonwealth Bank, an inner-city suburb of Sydney.  In those days, tellers had pistols in their teller cages and one day the branch ran out of cash and I was instructed to take the bus to the city, with my pistol and pick up $50K.  I made the call to return to the branch with the cash and my pistol in a taxi.  Another day, there was a robbery and the accountant and I chased the robber down the street and rugby tackled him.  The bank agreed with the initiative, but were reluctant to replace my torn trousers from the altercation.

What's your fondest memory from your career thus far?
I received a $100K bonus for producing exceptional results for Midland International.  That was quite a considerable sum for a job well done, particularly back then.
I worked for the CBA for 8 years, then spent 19 years at investment banks in Sydney and the last 19 years at LGFA.  Definitely, the most enjoyable has been as the CEO at the LGFA, working with a small and tight team of 6/7 people.  LGFA compete with Banks and do extremely well and add tremendous value to Councils, a win/win for the sector.

If you had one piece of advice what would it be?
Enjoy your job, take holidays and don’t let your family down.

What is the secret to financial success?
You’ve got to save, be prepared to save and invest wisely, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Have a portfolio across shares, property and fixed interest. Negotiate your own way in life, through the companies you work with, and ensure your salary is commensurate with your skills and abilities and don’t accept underpayment.

You’ve seen many parts of South Australia while visiting Councils, have you found a treasured spot?
A big part of my role is to market to Councils and visit their hometowns, something which I have done for the last 20 years.  I love getting away, the further the better, but the Eyre Peninsula is a favourite along with the South East and Coober Pedy.

What is your favourite wine (South Australian of course)?
I am almost exclusively a Shiraz drinker, with the Barossa high on the hitlist but I enjoy fantastic wines from all areas of South Australia. Here’s a shortlist of a few I’ve found….
Rockford Basket Press, Barossa Valley
The Beauty, Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley
Dead Arm, D’arenberg, Mclaren Vale
Old Adam, Bremerton, Langhorne Creek
Parker Terra Rossa, Coonawarra
An underrated winery is Taylors in the Clare Valley
And who can forget Shaw + Smith in the Adelaide Hills…
It may seem I am taking an each way bet here, but we are spoilt for choice in this State.

Where to from here...
I took up my CEO role at LGFA on the 4th November 1997 after the inaugural CEO Don David retired.  My contract expires on 31st December 2019 at which point I will probably retire.  Even though I love Adelaide and South Australia, I will retire in Queensland as most readers will be aware, I have lived in Brisbane for the past 19 years and have commuted each week to Adelaide.

The Boardroom...

Now available with teleconferencing facilities
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