Research Advisory Committee

A Research Advisory Committee comprising a mixture of local government practitioners and local government researchers meets bi-annually to oversee current research projects and advise on future research activity.

Professor Lawrence Pratchett - University of Canberra - Committee Chair

Professor Pratchett is the Dean of Business and Government at the University of Canberra. He was previously Professor of Local Democracy and Head of the Department of Public Policy at De Montfort University in the United Kingdom and prior to that Director and co-founder of the Local Governance Research Unit. Professor Pratchett’s PhD won the Political Studies Association Walter Bagehot Prize for the best dissertation in public administration in the UK. He has published widely in various esteemed journals. He has attracted significant research income, including approximately $560,000 in the last 3 years as Principal Investigator. His earlier major grants include $300,000 for a project on “barriers to local e-democracy”, from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and $250,000 from the Economic and Social Research Council for a project on political participation.

Greg Hoffman - Local Government Association of Queensland

Greg has had a long and distinguished career with Local Government. With over 40 years dedicated to Local Government he has worked for three Councils including the position of CEO of Darwin City Council. He was the Executive Director of LGAQ for 10 years, the Local Government Commissioner for Queensland for 5 years, and for the last 13 years he has been the Director of Policy and Representation at the LGAQ.

Greg holds two Degrees - a Bachelor of Business with majors in Accounting and Management and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Community Studies and Media Relations.  He is a Certified Practicing Accountant and a Fellow of the Local Government Managers Association.

In 1994 Greg was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Australia Day Honors List for outstanding service to Local Government and in 2002 received a Centenary of Federation Medal.

Professor John Martin - La Trobe University

John has a strong interest in the institutions and processes that create sustainable communities.

His initial training in ecology and natural resource management, sociology and a PhD in public policy provides a multidisciplinary view on sustainable development.

John has worked across Australia for the Federal, state and local governments and in the Asia Pacific and Africa on a range of assignments for the World Bank, the ADB, AusAID and the UNDP. His current research and consulting interests include local and regional governance, agriculture and rural change, and the impact of climate change on regional Australia.

Dr. Robyn Morris - Edith Cowan University

Robyn Morris is currently a Research Consultant to postgraduate students in the Faculty of Business and Law and is involved in a number of collaborative research projects on rural-remote and Indigenous local government in ECU’s capacity as the WA Program Partner of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG). She has tertiary teaching experience in Australia and the USA. She was based at ECU’s regional campus in Bunbury, WA for 15 years where she was Head of the Business Program and taught Economics, Marketing, Small Business and Quantitative Methods to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. She has 18 years’ consulting experience in the private and public sectors, with a particular focus on the local government sector in Western Australia. Robyn was a founding member of the WA Bunbury Wellington Economic Alliance, a regional alliance of local government, business and industry. She was a member of the Board for 7 years during which time she served as Chair for 2 years. Robyn is currently a member of the Research Advisory Committee of ACELG and is a member of the implementation committee for ACELG’s National Strategy for Building the Capacity of Rural-remote and Indigenous Local Government.

Shane Sody - Local Government Association of South Australia

Shane Sody had an 18-year career in journalism, including at managerial level in commercial radio, before switching careers in the 1990’s to become a media adviser to a South Australian State Government Minister. Then, after obtaining a first-class Honours Law Degree from the University of Adelaide in 2000, a further career switch led him to a position as legal adviser to the SA Attorney-General, and then in 2005 to a role as Principal Policy Officer, Legislation, with the former South Australian Office for State/Local Government Relations (now defunct). In 2011, he transitioned to the Local Government Association of SA where he now holds the joint positions of: Project Manager, Local Government Reform; and Acting Executive Officer, Local Government Research and Development Scheme. Shane’s interests include Local Government rating policies, financial sustainability and governance practices. In December 2011, Shane was one of the co-authors of a paper that he presented to a previous ACELG Researchers Forum Rating policies – an ad hoc or principled balancing act? He is current studying towards formal qualifications in project management.

Marianne Di Giallonardo - Maroondah City Council

Currently the Director of Corporate Services at Maroondah City Council in Melbourne, Marianne has an extensive 30 year Victorian local and state government career spanning Corporate, Community and Infrastructure Services portfolios. In her current role she is responsible for Finance and Governance, Information Technology, Human Resources, Resident Services (Local Laws, Waste, Risk Management and Council Planning and Performance) and Property, Rates and Valuations and Customer Service. 

Marianne is hugely interested in all things local government especially as they relate to people serving the needs and aspirations of local people and communities in conjunction with other spheres of government and the private sector to make the world a better place.

Rolf Fenner - Australian Local Government Association

Rolf has been the Senior Policy Adviser with the Australian Local Government Association since late 2005. During his time in Canberra he has developed an extensive appreciation of the  diverse range of national policy issues impacting local government through his participation at multiple ministerial council and senior official meetings. He has an extensive professional network and reputation for working collaboratively with all levels of government and peak national institutions. Rolf participates annually in the National Local Government Awards as a category judge and manages ALGA`s Regional Cooperation and Development Forum and highly acclaimed State of the Regions Report.

Rolf has worked for Councils in NSW, QLD and Victoria. He was a senior Planner with the NSW Department of Planning for several years, a planning and local government training consultant and part time university lecturer. He holds qualifications in public policy, business management and urban and regional planning.

Dr. Katrena Stephenson - Local Government Association of Tasmania

Dr Katrena Stephenson has been the Policy Director at the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) since 2007, and prior to this held policy and evaluation roles in a number of Tasmanian State Government departments and in the UK. In her role Katrena represents LGAT in government, business and other forums, and works with a diverse range of stakeholders including Member Council senior staff and elected members, officers in Federal and State Government, Members of Parliament and their advisory staff, other State and the Australian Local Government Association, business and community organisations. Katrena manages the diverse policy functions of the Association, including oversight of policy and project staff and with the CEO has responsibility for the development and implementation of Association strategy, policies and services, which reflect the views and needs of the Association and its member councils. She has been successful  in securing funding for the sector to improve strategic asset management and long term financial planning practices and to pilot electronic development assessment systems. 

Dr. Bligh Grant - ACELG

Bligh is a political scientist specialising in local government. He completed a PhD in Local Government Studies under Professor Brian Dollery at the University of New England (UNE) in 2012 and is currently Senior Lecturer at ACELG. From 2008 has held research-intensive positions at UNE and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and has taught across all social science disciplines at these institutions. Bligh has been involved with ACELG activities for several years, including as Visiting Fellow in 2013. He has co-authored two recent books, Funding the Future: Financial Sustainability and Infrastructure Finance in Australian Local Government (2013) and Councils in Cooperation: Shared Services and Australian Local Government (2012) both written with long-standing collaborators Brian Dollery and Michael Kortt. Recent co-authored articles include ‘Recasting leadership in Australian local government: a typology from political theory’ (Local Government Studies (2014) and ‘Old foes: Structural change and local democracy in Australian local government’ (Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics and Business Law). Specialising in the political theory and political economy of local government, he has published on public value, community engagement and gender and a variety of other topics, all pertaining to local government.


Back to Research and Policy Foresight »