Climate study to cost $60k

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Ratepayers will fund a postgraduate student’s research into climate change and local government to the tune of about $60,000 during the next three years.

Earlier this month, the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council voted six-nil to back the project, billed as a response to climate change linked to chief executive Stephanie Addison-Brown’s council-set key performance indicators.

The chief’s KPIs include “maintain(ing) the Shire as a leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation, improving our scores across the 10 WA Local Government Association climate-excellence categories”.

The project would see an Edith Cowan University postgraduate student sponsored to research and report on opportunities to bring climate change responses into Shire operations.

About $20,000 would be given to the postgraduate student each year, including in-kind support and office resources, with milestone reviews set to gauge progress.

The report noted the student “would be hosted by the Shire team and would work alongside key Shire staff, ensuring an ongoing two-way knowledge transfer and the ability to embed the learnings into the culture and processes at the Shire”.

“The PhD student would engage with the local community during their research, which would in turn enable knowledge transfer and encourage and promote thinking in regard to future resilience within the community,” the report said.

“This work will need to take place over multiple years and will require a significant amount of time and resourcing to ensure that change is truly embedded throughout the organisation. Research into mainstreaming will need to look across all facets of local government responsibility and governance — including waste, vehicle fleet, civic buildings, procurement, investment etc — to arrive at whole-of-organisation outcomes.”

Ms Addison-Brown told the Times the research would also draw on work via the Shire’s National Cities Power Partnership Alliance.

“The proposal ... will provide additional expertise to help guide the Shire in mainstreaming action on climate change throughout its operations,” Ms Addison-Brown said.

“The Shire has a successful track record of engaging with WA universities to achieve useful and cost-effective solutions to the challenges which we face, including, for example, research undertaken by ECU relating to short-stay use of residential properties.”

The report noted recruitment of a full-time officer would otherwise cost about $300,000 for the term of the project, with consultants similarly expensive.

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