From the President
Local government has an important role in balancing heritage and aesthetic considerations with functionality and development. Good design does not need to be thrown out the window when spending money quickly is the priority.
The recent stimulus package delivered by the Federal Government has provided local government with an opportunity to reinvigorate local built environments while revving up the economy.
Last month I wrote to the Mayors and Shire Presidents of every council in Australia seeking support to expedite the implementation of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan - Fiscal Stimulus Package which was passed by the Senate on 13 February. Since then, I have received a strong message from councils that projects are ready to roll out and several have taken advantage of the offer by the Australian Institute of Architects for some pro bono architectural assistance prior to the March 6 deadline.
I have also raised this matter with the Presidents of every State and the Northern Territory Local Government Association at a recent Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Board meeting in Hobart. There was strong support for the package and State and Territory Presidents said they would do everything in their power to support the timely implementation of the initiatives under the package.
ALGA acknowledges the possible need for state and territory leaders to implement temporary measures to expedite planning and development applications within jurisdictions in certain areas. However, as I stressed at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in February, timely approvals for planning and development and council involvement in good planning and development are not mutually exclusive.
To this end, I have written to state premiers and chief ministers, urging them to ensure that any measures taken to speed up planning approvals at this time of economic uncertainty should not distort good planning and development processes and outcomes in the longer term.
I have asked state and territory leaders to contact me if there is anything that I or State and Territory Association Presidents can do to assist in relation to the implementation of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan.
ALGA is committed to micro economic and regulation reform including the reform of planning and development and I am keen to see progress on this front through the Local Government and Planning Ministerial Council under the auspice of the COAG Business Regulation and Competition Working Group.
On another note, it is pleasing to see that announcements by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, under the first round of the $800m Community Infrastructure Program are beginning to flow and local communities around Australia are benefiting from community infrastructure such as sporting facilities, bike paths, upgrading town halls, community centres, swimming pools, sports grounds, main streets and foreshores and water and energy conservation measures. It is important we remind ourselves and state and territory governments that this is an opportunity to get the right balance and build facilities that will last us at least into the middle of this century and meet the community needs both in terms of quality of design and amenity. This will ensure we leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Cr Geoff Lake
Landfill concerns under CPRS
The Australian Landfill Owners Association has said that it is disappointed at the Government's apparent need to rush through the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation sacrificing consistency between the CPRS legislation and its accompanying commentary.
Both the CPRS draft legislation, and its accompanying commentary state clearly that once a
landfill emits 25,000 tonnes or more of CO2eq it will be included in the scheme. The draft
legislation goes on to say that if "at any time during the eligible financial year, the landfill facility is within the prescribed distance of another landfill facility that is open for the acceptance of waste" its threshold for inclusion will be 10, 000 tonnes of CO2eq.
However the accompanying commentary contravenes this, stipulating that the two landfills within
a prescribed distance of one another need to be "competing landfills accepting the same
classification of waste."
ALOA is also calling for legacy waste emissions to be fully excluded from the CPRS rather than
partially excluded as proposed in the draft legislation. ALGA raised the threshold issue in its submission which is available here.
ALGA's submission argued that lowering the threshold to 10 kt CO2e may act as a direct disincentive to regionalisation of landfill facilities and actively work against attempts by many State Governments to encourage a rationalisation of smaller, less efficient, often unlicensed landfills into better managed, larger licensed facilities.
Aboriginal leaders gathered in Adelaide last week to discuss the possible make-up of a leadership organisation for Indigenous people.
One hundred Indigenous people from around the country met to lay the groundwork for a new national Indigenous representative body. The consultation was convened by the Indigenous Steering Committe headed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma.
The previous Indigenous body, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), was dismantled in 2004.
State migration patterns
WA is leading a boom in Australia's population not seen since the 1960s - and it is not a baby boom. High levels of immigration are fuelling record high population growth. Australia's headcount increased by almost 400,000 last year to 21.5 million, fresh data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.
More than half of the new arrivals, or just over 230,000 people, were immigrants.The rest were babies born in Australia.
The federal government this week moved to cut back immigration, reducing the skilled migrant intake by 14 per cent in response to the economic crisis.
The rate at which the population is growing has surged 50 per cent over the last five years. It is now growing at just under two per cent a year.
"The last time Australia experienced higher growth rates was in the 50s and 60s as a result of post war migration and high birth rates," the ABS said in a statement.
WA's population growth for the period was 2.9 per cent, taking the number of residents to 2.19 million, the ABS said.
Queensland ranked second with 2.5 per cent growth, followed by the Northern Territory (2.2%), Victoria (1.8%), the Australian Capital Territory (1.4%), New South Wales (1.3%), South Australia (1.1%) and Tasmania (0.9%).
For people moving within Australia, Queensland was the mecca with WA a distant second, while people from NSW appeared keen to leave their state.
Austroads has released the following publications that are available free to councils as part of ALGA's membership of Austroads:
- Guide to Asset Management Part 3: Asset Strategies (AGAM03/09)
- Guide to Asset Management Part 4: Program Development and Implementation (AGAM04/09)
- Guide to Roads Safety Part 4: Local Government and Community Road Safety (AGRS04/09)
- Guide to Roads Safety Part 6: Roads Safety Audit (AGRS06/09)
- Guide to Roads Safety Part 8: Treatment of Crash Locations (AGRS08/09 Impacts of PBS Pavement Vertical Loading Standards at Network Level Tasks 1 and 2: Final Report (AP-T117/09)
These publications are available for free download in PDF format from the Austroads website .
NSW Sustainable Development Conference
Tuesday 12 - Wednesday 13 May 2009
Dockside Convention Centre, Sydney
The NSW Sustainable Development Conference 2009 will bring together decision-makers from the private and public sectors, industry leaders, local government, scientists, conservationists and others to discuss the current and future directions and frameworks for sustainability in NSW, and how it will affect NSW state and local government, business and the community.
The Conference, to be held on May 12 and 13, and featuring over 30 speakers, will provide a timely opportunity to examine progress towards sustainable objectives in a range of key areas such as: NSW policy and progress, water, waste and resource recovery, energy efficiency, climate change response and planning and urban design.
The Conference will also feature best practice case studies in sustainable development, including supporting workplaces to become more sustainable, addressing challenges of sustainability, and provide advice on how state and local government and business can achieve their sustainable development goals.
Confirmed and invited speakers include: The Hon Philip Costa, NSW Minister for Water; Rob Freeman, Executive Director, Murray-Darling Basin Authority ; Paul Bainton, Director, National Waste Taskforce; John Hudson, Director, Sustainable Systems, NSW Department of Planning ; Zoe De Saram, Acting Director, Climate Change Policy, Department of Environment and Climate Change and David Hemming, Manager, Sustainable Energy..
To view the Conference agenda and to register for the Conference, please go to www.halledit.com.au/nswsdc or contact Denise McQueen on 03 8534 5021 or
Community events conference
Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 May 2009 Luna Park, Sydney
Register your event planning and communication staff now for Snags, Crackers and Flags: Growing Australia Day and events in your community.
Conference themes include:
- engaging young people
- branding and media
- event case studies
- 'green' events
Conference speakers include:
- Linda Bracken: Manager, triple j
- Mark Bin Bakar: 2007 NAIDOC Person of the Year and 2008 West Australian of the Year
- Bernard Salt: Commentator and advisor on Australian demographic and cultural trends
- Russel Howcroft: Managing Director, George Patterson Y&R and panelist of ABC TV's The Gruen Transfer
Events planned and delivered by local government - like Australia Day celebrations - are important to building strong communities and can deliver significant social benefits if successful.
This conference will provide a learning, sharing and inspiring environment for delegates to deliver more effective community events. Brought to you by the network of Australia Day Councils and Committees in each state and territory, the delegate fee for two days is just $550, including lunch, morning and afternoon tea and the conference dinner.
For more information and to register: www.australiaday.org.au/conference
National Transport Commission Review
The National Transport Commission (NTC) is required by legislation to be independently reviewed. ALGA Chief Executive Officer Adrian Beresford-Wylie recently met the Review Panel consisting of Bruce Wilson (Chair) - former CEO of Queensland Transport; Tania Whyte - Linfox; and Adam Lewis - Mc Kinsey and Company to set out its views.
ALGA explained that local government has a strong interest in the road transport reforms developed by the NTC as it has responsibility for over 80% of the total roads system. The interest relates to local government granting access to the "final mile" for non-general access vehicles. Despite local government having the capacity to grant, deny or limit access, it has no direct responsibility for the implementation of these reforms which depends on state legislation based on model legislation developed by the NTC.
The NTC consults regularly and extensively with ALGA as the local government representative body at the national level and is regularly invited onto various working groups. ALGA indicated that it is generally satisfied with the level of consultation. ALGA also indicated that it pleased with the very cooperative attitude of the NTC in making senior people available to make presentation at various ALGA events and the briefing of state local government associations on road transport reforms.
ALGA and the NTC have also jointly prepared and distributed information material for councils on road transport reforms. ALGA suggested that it would like to see the NTC take a greater role in following through with the implementation of road transport reforms by engaging directly with councils. NTC appears to hold the view that engaging with ALGA is sufficient to provide information about road transport reforms to all local government bodies. While recognising that engaging directly councils would be relatively resource intensive ALGA believes it is likely to achieve better practical implementation of reforms.
NTC collects extensive data about roads, including local roads, and the road transport system for purposes of calculating heavy vehicle charges. ALGA suggested that there would be value in working cooperatively to develop a nationally consistent data base on local roads.
The Federal Government has announced an additional $60 million investment in regional communications, including for education, health and emergency services projects, greater access to satellite phones, and an expansion of computer and internet access for remote Indigenous communities.
The measures are an initial response to the Regional Telecommunications Review (RTR), which was chaired by Dr Bill Glasson AO. The Government has indicated that it will invest up to $400 million for responses to Review recommendations.
The Government's initial response includes:
- $46 million in new funds for the Digital Regions Initiative to enable digital education, health and emergency services projects in partnership with state, territory and local governments. Applications will be called no later than September 2009 with projects expected to commence in early in 2010.
- $11.4 million in new funds to increase and extend the subsidies available under the Satellite Phone Subsidy Scheme for Australians living and working in areas without terrestrial coverage.
- An additional $3.7 million contribution to a $30 million refocused Indigenous Communications Program to improve essential telecommunications services, basic public internet access facilities and computer training for remote Indigenous communities in partnership with states and territories.
The Government will also address a number of the recommendations in collaboration with all levels of government through the Online and Communications Council and other forums. It will also engage with the telecommunications industry and consumer groups on particular issues.
As advised by the Review, the government will respond to recommendations related to the National Broadband Network once the outcome of this process is finalised.
The Regional Telecommunications Review was tabled in Parliament on 15 October 2008. More information, including the Government' Statement of Response to the Review and a number of response fact-sheets are available at: www.dbcde.gov.au/regionaltel.
Broadband announcement shortly
There is intense media speculation around the timing of the Federal Government's announcement of the National Broadband Network (NBN). Consensus is that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will delay the announcement until after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd returns from the G20 Summit in London on April 4. Telstra has announced plans to upgrade its own cable network in what has been seen as a pre-emptive strike against the NBN but Senator Conroy has indicated publicly that he is prepared to use all of the government's regulatory powers to stop Telstra from undermining the project.
Gender equity challenge
The Australian Local Government Women's Association (ALGWA) Biennial National Conference titled Taking Up the Challenge will be held in Adelaide from 15 - 17 April 2009.
This is the first time the National Conference has been held in South Australia. It is hosted, by the ALGWA South Australia Branch, a non-profit, non-political organisation supporting and encouraging women's participation in local government. A highlight of the conference will include the national launch of the ALGWA Gender Equity Program. More information here.
Disaster management tested
Fraser Coast Mayor Mick Kruger said ex-tropical cyclone Hamish allowed the council to test its new disaster management plan, which worked out well.
The plan was updated after the former Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Woocoo shires and divisions one and two of Tiaro amalgamated last year.
Hamish has now weakened to a tropical low and no longer poses a significant threat to the region. "Everybody got together and pulled together and worked as a team. So if anything did come out of it, what we really do know is our plan works," he said.
The latest Local Government and ABS statistics for March 2009 are available
The prestigious National and International Riverprize awards for excellence in river and catchment management are open to organisations all round the world involved in the restoration and sustainable management of our precious water resources.
This year, the National Riverprize will be valued at $200,000, and the International Thiess Riverprize at $350,000.
Further information at www.riverfoundation.org.au. Nominations for both awards close on Thursday 30 April 2009.
Quote of the week
"The ultimate measure of people is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy."
Dr Martin Luther King Jr
In a solemn ceremony recently in the European Parliament, more that 350 cities across Europe have committed, by signing the Covenant of Mayors, to go beyond the EU's energy objective of reducing 20% CO2 emissions by 2020. With this initiative of the European Commission in partnership with the Committee of Regions, the representatives of over 60 million citizens will work together to achieve the common goal of changing our environment and using energy more wisely. 'Most of the energy produced in Europe is consumed in urban areas. The battle against climate change will have to fought and won in the cities. This is why, the commitment shown by Mayors across Europe by signing the Covenant of Mayors send us a strong message of hope, particularly in the difficult times that we are facing', said Commissioner Piebalgs.
More than 100 mayors across Europe participated in launching ceremony which was chaired by the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs, the President of the Committee of the Regions, Luc Van den Brande, the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal Quadras, and the Mayors of Budapest, Gabor Demszky, Hamburg, Ole von Beust and Madrid Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, of Riga, Janis Birks, and Vaxjo (Sweden), Bo Frank.
To coincide with the ceremony, the new Covenant of Mayors website has been launched today to act as a network portal and support structure for participating cities and citizens alike. The new website, offers news and pictures of the Covenant in action, as well as information on the cities involved.
Melbourne Planning Summit
Tuesday 28th - Wednesday 29th April
Location: Zinc @ Federation Square, Melbourne
The Summit will provide an opportunity for discussion and review of latest developments in urban planning in Melbourne, focused on the new Melbourne @ 5 million urban growth planning updates. It will draw lessons from Australia-wide planning experiences. The conference will cover issues including:
- The new Victorian transport strategy;
- Lessons learnt from the Melbourne 2030 Audit;
- Financing urban services and infrastructure;
- Planning for population growth;
- Planning for an ageing population;
It will feature sessions on innovative urban partnerships and planning best practice case studies. Speakers include:
- Justin Madden, Minister for Planning
- Jim Betts, Secretary, Department of Transport
- Prue Digby, Deputy Secretary, Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development
- Liz Johnstone, Manager, Planning Policy & Projects, MAV
- Cr Paul Klisaris, Mayor, City of Monash
- David Keenan, Director, City Sustainability, Hume City Council
- David Mayes, Manager Strategic Planning and Sustainability, City of Melbourne
- Alan Cadogan, Executive Manager, City Strategy, City of Sydney
- Kerry Doss, Manager, City Planning, Brisbane City Council
Further details about the Summit, including the full program, are available at www.halledit.com.au/mps or contact Denise McQueen on 03 8534 5021 or