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ALGA News archive 2017
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21 April 2017
President's column
Local Government Minister Senator Fiona Nash's address to the National Press Club this week strongly highlighted the importance of local partnerships, investment and leadership to drive change and development in not just Australia's regions but, by extension, the country as a whole. It is refreshing to hear the Australian Government understands and appreciates that local government's strength lies in our capacity to identify and respond to local needs which are often diverse, complex and changing rapidly in response to evolving domestic and global pressures.
More councils urged to apply for $5k in funding
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, has this week written to councils about the Government's support for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court Decision. Funding is available for councils under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy Culture and Capability Programme to help their communities celebrate National Reconciliation Week 2017 (27 May 2017 to 3 June 2017) and mark the Referendum and Mabo decision anniversaries.
NGA motions - deadline extended
The deadline for motions submissions to the 2017 National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) has been extended to Friday 28 April, giving councils an additional week to submit their motions for the ALGA Board's consideration. The NGA, to be held in Canberra from 18 to 21 June, is an opportunity for individual councils to identify matters of national relevance to the sector and to submit motions to seek the Assembly's support for these matters.
14 April 2017
President's column
Councils have just one week left to access new funding from the Government to help deliver local National Reconciliation Week 2017 celebrations commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court decision. The funding round closes on Friday 21 April 2017. Councils will have the opportunity to use the funding to partner with a local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisation to mark these two historic events
Opposition Leader, Hon Bill Shorten MP, to address NGA
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, has agreed to address this year's National General Assembly of Local Government on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. This week, the Opposition came out in support of ALGA's call to end the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation agreeing that local government funding has been under pressure following the 2014-15 freeze. The party called on the Government to rule out any extension of the FAGs indexation freeze beyond 30 June 2017.
Get your council future-ready
Registrations for the Government's Future Ready series of webinars and masterclasses close on 21 April 2017, with just one week left for interested councils to sign up. Future Ready is a smart cities incubator series that sits alongside the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program and aims to help councils prepare for smart city transformations through learning, collaboration and ideas generation. The series brings together national and international experts, researchers, service and technology providers, governments
07 April 2017
President's column
For many of our communities across the country, natural disasters are a constant threat. The recent and continuing effects of the powerful ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie remind us that our communities require appropriate support to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters where possible, as well as timely support to recover as quickly as possible from those impacts that cannot be avoided. Local government has been a strong supporter of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements
Call for submissions from the Referendum Council
What do you think about a future referendum being held in Australia to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution? The Referendum Council has made a call for submissions on constitutional recognition to continue an open and constructive national conversation about this important issue. The council has released a discussion paper which sets out some of the different options for change and outlines some of the issues to be taken into account.
Around the nation: Financial Assistance Grants indexation freeze impact on Burnie City Council, Tasmania
With Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) remaining at 2014-15 levels following the Government's decision that year of a three-year freeze to the grants' indexation, many councils across the country have felt the pinch. This week, Mayor Anita Dow from Burnie City Council in Tasmania shared the impact that the Government's decision has had on her council, which relied on the grants for seven per cent of its total operational funding.
31 March 2017
President's column
"End the freeze" and "restore indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs)" were the lines I took at a recent meeting with the Federal Local Government Minister, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, at Parliament House in Canberra. I explained to the Minister that the freeze of the indexation to FAGs is estimated to result in a permanent reduction in the grants base by about 13 per cent. This means that even if indexation is restored in 2017-18, the gap will continue to widen
Additional disaster assistance for QLD communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie
Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, and Queensland Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Mark Ryan MP, have announced additional disaster assistance in response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie that has affected eight local government areas. The assistance is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).
Climate Change Review discussion paper released
The Federal Government has released a discussion paper for public consultation as part of the 2017 review of climate change policies. The discussion paper follows the Government's commitment to review its climate change policies when it set Australia's target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The review aims to ensure the Government's policies remain effective in achieving Australia's 2030 target and Paris Agreement commitments.
24 March 2017
President's column
This week brings with it a timely reflection that local government is in so many ways at the cutting edge of promoting cultural diversity and promoting multiculturalism in our communities. Earlier in the week, the Australian Government reaffirmed its commitment to multicultural Australia with the release of the statement Multicultural Australia: United, Strong and Successful. The statement outlines the strategic direction and priorities for multicultural policy in Australia while emphasising our unique national identity
Are you an elected council member? Please read this...
ALGA is urgently seeking your support to end the freeze on indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) by contacting your federal representative via ALGA's campaign website. ALGA initiated this campaign to ensure the Australian Government honours its commitment to councils and restores indexation to FAGs payments in this year's Federal Budget. At the time of publishing this ALGA News edition, there have been 63 emails sent to federal representatives via the site.
Reminder - Submit your NGA Notice of Motions
Councils are being reminded to submit notices of motions for this year's National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA), which will be held in Canberra on 18 - 21 June. The NGA is an opportunity for councils to identify matters of national relevance to the sector and seek the Assembly's support via notices of motions for these matters to be considered by ALGA as national policy. To be eligible for inclusion in the NGA Business Papers
17 March 2017
President's column
Making our cities, towns and regions smarter, stronger, more efficient and more resilient is a constant focus for local government - but will the decisions and investments of the past be the right ones for the future? Under the theme Building Tomorrow's Communities, delegates at this year's National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) will look at how councils are enhancing their capacity to respond to the new and unforeseen challenges of tomorrow's communities.
Senator the Hon Fiona Nash confirmed to address NGA
Senator the Hon Fiona Nash will address this year's National General Assembly of Local Government on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. Senator Nash is the Minister for Local Government and Territories, Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Regional Communications. The Minister's address at this year's NGA will be the first opportunity for delegates to hear from the minister as the sector's representative in the Federal Government. Delegates will also have the opportunity to receive an update straight from the minister about
Around the nation: Financial Assistance Grants indexation freeze impact on Balonne Shire Council, Queensland
Due to a relatively small rate base, with minimal shift in population and limited opportunities to dramatically increase this rate base, Balonne Shire Council is reliant on government assistance, in particular the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), which makes up an estimated 25% of its annual recurrent revenue. Rural and remote councils in Queensland are facing economic stress through the rural downturn and drought conditions and the decision to freeze the Financial Assistance Grants places further pressures on already stretched resources.
10 March 2017
President's column
International Women's Day this past Wednesday was a chance to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women here and worldwide. Women are amazing, terrific, talented - they rock! So why is it that they don't rule? I don't mean totally, I mean just in the same 50:50 proportions that make up society? Of the three levels of government, ours should be the easiest to get this right, and perhaps provide pathways to other roles too.
The Hon Angus Taylor MP to address NGA
The Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, has confirmed that he will address National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) in Canberra on Wednesday 21 June. The Assistant Minister's portfolio stretches across the whole of government to improve city liveability and tackle long standing issues of traffic congestion, housing affordability and the need to create jobs closer to where people live. Mr Taylor has a focus on regional cities and outer suburban cities.
Announcement to help local communities incubate bright ideas
The Australian Government has announced that it is helping local councils and communities incubate clever technology projects to prepare for a digital future. Councils are invited to register for the Future Ready series of webinars and masterclasses on building smart cities know-how. Launching the series in Brisbane today, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, said Future Ready complemented the Government's $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.
03 March 2017
President's column
ALGA has launched an advocacy website dedicated to the campaign to restore indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) in this year's Federal Budget, and we urgently need your assistance. The campaign website provides a powerful advocacy tool for all councils to contact their federal representatives and seek their support to ensure indexation is restored in the upcoming 2017-18 Federal Budget - and you can complete it in less than five minutes.
Laura Tingle confirmed for NGA 2017
The Australian Financial Review's political editor, Laura Tingle, will address the National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) to be held on 18 - 21 June in Canberra. Laura has reported politics from the Canberra press gallery for almost thirty years, after beginning her career in Sydney reporting on the financial markets and economics. She is the author of Chasing the Future - a book about the recession of the early 1990s
New ALGA campaign website to restore indexation of Financial Assistance Grants
ALGA has launched a new campaign website to restore indexation of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs). The simple website allows councils to join ALGA's campaign by contacting their local Federal MPs via the site. With a template already written up, this powerful contribution from councils will take less than five minutes. Mayor David O'Loughlin, ALGA President, has urged all councils to get behind the campaign.
24 February 2017
President's column
Early last week the ALGA CEO and I met with six Federal Ministers and Shadow Ministers on behalf of the sector and our message was the same with every one of them - end the freeze, restore indexation of the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), and work with us to improve community safety, productivity and prosperity across the nation. We received a warm reception, but that doesn't mean we have their firm commitment in hand. We want the Government to work with us, as genuine partners, in supporting our communities at the local level.
Government seeking views on protecting Australia's critical infrastructure
The Government has released a discussion paper, "Strengthening the National Security of Australia's Critical Infrastructure", to seek views on managing the complex and evolving national security risks to Australia's critical infrastructure. The Government is seeking views of stakeholders in relation to the operation of the Government's new Critical Infrastructure Centre, including how an assets register should be developed and maintained to achieve a consolidated picture of critical infrastructure ownership in high risk sectors.
One week left for 2017 National Awards for Local Government nominations
Councils have just one week left to make nominations for the Government's annual awards for innovative local government projects. The National Awards for Local Government celebrate local government projects that are innovative, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and make a meaningful difference. Category winners will be announced in mid-April 2017 and the national winner will be announced at the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly dinner on 20 June 2017.
17 February 2017
President's column
In my President's Column this week, I would like to address an important issue that is facing our sector and that is likely to play out over the coming months. With the Federal 2017-18 Budget to be handed down in May, and no cast-iron guarantee that the Government will reintroduce indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), it is important for our sector to come together now to lock in the Government's support and commitment to restoring the indexation as signalled in the last Federal Budget.
Call for council motions to 2017 NGA
ALGA is inviting local councils to participate in the 2017 National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) by submitting a notice of motion under the NGA theme of Building Tomorrow's Communities. The NGA, to be held in Canberra from 18 to 21 June, is an opportunity for individual councils to identify matters of national relevance to the sector and to submit notices of motion to seek the Assembly's support for these matters to be considered by ALGA as national policy.
Time running out to apply for Building Better Regions Fund
Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, has reminded local councils and community groups that applications for infrastructure projects under the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) close in two weeks' time. Minister Nash said the BBRF infrastructure stream will invest in projects that drive new investment across rural, regional and remote Australia. "The strongest applications will highlight the economic benefits of the project and show how it will create ongoing jobs and strengthen the local community," she said.
10 February 2017
President's column
Financial sustainability, strengthening regions and cities, safe and productive infrastructure, and innovation will be the four key planks in ALGA's work and advocacy over the coming two years. At the Board's strategic planning workshop this week on the Sunshine Coast all associations were well represented and discussion was lively and positive about the future of local government and our key relationship with the Commonwealth government in block funding, policy development and program funding to achieve mutual objectives.
Progress on Townsville City Deal
Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, has welcomed the announcement that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will invest $20 million in the Ross River Solar Farm near Townsville. This investment represents early action on one of the core commitments of the Townsville City Deal: to boost energy productivity and establish Townsville as a leader in renewable energy through CEFC investment. The CEFC's investment will accelerate the development of Australia's largest solar farm
$10m a year to strengthen Indigenous Affairs Strategy evaluation
The Government has announced that it will allocate $10 million a year over four years to strengthen the evaluation of Indigenous Affairs programs. Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said the multi-year program of evaluations would be underpinned by a formal Evidence and Evaluation Framework to strengthen reporting, monitoring and evaluation at a contract, program and outcome level. "The IAS has already greatly improved the transparency and accountability of Indigenous Affairs funding," he said.
03 February 2017
President's column
Next week, the ALGA Board will come together for a two-day strategic planning meeting to review ALGA's strategic plan, discuss the possible implications of Government policies introduced in the past year, and also address a number of other strategic issues. This important meeting will help guide ALGA's ongoing advocacy work with each priority reviewed, clear strategies agreed and new items considered. This meeting is also part of the process of developing an ALGA 2017-20 Strategic Plan and associated action plans.
Registration open for the National General Assembly
Registration is now open for the National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA). Under the theme 'Building tomorrow's communities', speakers, debate and discussions will seek to highlight local government's fundamental role in shaping our communities for today and tomorrow. The discussions will look at how councils, working in partnership with other levels of government, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector, can innovate and harness the ever-increasing range of data and technology to ensure their communities are best-placed to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.
$15.3 million to NDIS projects
The Government is providing a package of more than $15.3 million to help people prepare for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) through the NDIS Sector Development Fund. The Sector Development Fund (SDF) was established to assist the disability sector - including people with disability, their families, carers, services providers and workforce - transition to the new arrangements for disability support under the NDIS. The Hon Jane Prentice, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, said that SDF funding of more than $6 million was for projects in the Northern Territory.
27 January 2017
President's column
Happy New Year! 2017 is well underway and the year ahead looks to be filled with a range of opportunities for local government and Australia. This year the Government will reveal its refreshed regional policy, the outcomes of the Regional Development Australia (RDA) review will be known, new programs announced last year will be implemented, and we will see the current City Deals agreements taking shape around the country.
Strong representation from local government in Australia Day honours
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Australian of the Year awards on Thursday night in Canberra, with the 2017 Australian of the Year award going to Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, an inspirational scientist and international leader in stem cell research. Local government was strongly represented in the Australia Day honours list through past and present local government councillors and mayors. Those honoured by being made a Member in the Order of Australia (AM) were:
ALGA calls on the Government to deliver on promise in May budget
ALGA has called on the Federal Treasurer the Hon Scott Morrison MP to deliver on the Commonwealth's promise to restore the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) payments in the 2017-18 Federal budget. The Australian Government estimated that the three-year freeze on FAGs indexation introduced in the 2014-15 Federal budget would strip more than $900 million from council revenues over the period up to 2017-18. Mayor David O'Loughlin, ALGA President, said that it is ultimately communities that felt the pain of this freeze

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