1 Nov 2013

Local government to be reimbursed for campaign costs


Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure, Warren Truss has advised that local government will be reimbursed for the costs of a national campaign on constitutional recognition of local government.

During a presentation in Adelaide to the Local Government of South Australia 2013 Conference last Friday, Minister Truss told the gathering that following discussions with ALGA, he could inform the local government sector that "it is the government's intention that local government is not out of pocket as a result of the referendum debacle". 

The announcement follows a meeting between Minster Truss and ALGA President Felicity-ann Lewis a fortnight ago, in which Mr Truss said that he was sympathetic to allowing local government to use about $3.5 million of the $10 million in Commonwealth funding provided to the sector to execute a national campaign in the lead up to the proposed 14 September 2013 referendum.

Given that the referendum was cancelled without consultation in August by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, ALGA has said that it would be inequitable if councils had to bear the costs of the associated campaign.

Minister Truss also told the Conference that while he has "always personally been a strong supporter of the constitutional recognition of local government ... now is not the right time to raise the referendum question again".  He said that the new government had no plans to "put the issue back on the agenda".

The decision to reimburse local government will allow ALGA to reimburse state and territory associations for their contributions to the national campaign. ALGA will now be working with Minister Truss' Department to meet the requirements for audited statements and acquittal of expenditure prior to reimbursement.

ALGA prepares submissions on new climate change measures


ALGA is preparing a submission in response to the exposure draft of the Bill to repeal the carbon price mechanism and other related programs which was released by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 15 October, 2013.

ALGA has been working through the exposure draft and discussing issues with state associations, the Commonwealth Government and relevant industry bodies.  ALGA's submission will be dealing with a number of issues that could potentially pose significant difficulties for councils in the transitional period.

In its submission, ALGA has noted four key areas of concern.  They are:

  • Communicating with the community to assist them in understanding the real impacts of the repeal;
  • determining an approach to managing unspent carbon price liability funds;
  • clarifying the roles and responsibilities of councils going forward, particularly ongoing responsibility for National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting; and
  • seeking to ensure that councils that invested in abatement technology, in good faith, are not disadvantaged.

Individual councils should also take the opportunity to present their views on this important Bill.  Information on making a submission is available here but councils should note that the submission period closes at 5pm on 4 November, 2013.

Hundreds to converge on Alice Springs for Roads Congress


In just over a week, ALGA President Felicity-ann Lewis will welcome hundreds of local government representatives and elected officials to Alice Springs for ALGA's 14th National Local Roads and Transport Congress.

Given Central Australia's reliance on roads for transport, it's fitting that Alice Springs hosts this important event.  The Congress provides the opportunity for participants to discuss key issues affecting roads, transport and infrastructure provision in Australian communities.  This includes the challenge of closing the distances between the outback and the rest of Australia.

Presentations will be provided by industry experts and federal parliamentarians, including Deputy Prime Minister and Regional Development Minister, Warren Truss and Opposition Spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport and Local Government, Anthony Albanese.  A series of information sessions to discuss issues confronting communities will take place on the final day of the Congress, allowing councils to focus on specific, local priorities.

The Innovative Infrastructure Funding session will dedicate time to one of the biggest challenges that councils of all sizes face: securing funding for vital infrastructure projects.  Whether it's re-surfacing the main street or building a tunnel under a major city, these projects are expensive and often require councils to make difficult decisions.

With increasing financial pressure on all levels of government, it's important for councils to consider avenues other than grants to achieve their projects.  The Innovative Infrastructure Funding session is intended to promote discussion across the sector to help planned projects get off the ground in this harsh financial climate.

For more information about the Congress or to register, please visit ALGA Events on the ALGA website or click here.

President's Column


Last week I spoke at a "Totally Locally" forum hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) in Adelaide about the critical role of councils in delivering community-led economic development. 

Many studies have been done to identify what stimulates regional development and the findings generally reinforce the importance of strong leadership.  This was the focus of my presentation.

ALGA has an active interest in local and regional development.  This interest is demonstrated by the Regional Cooperation and Development Forum held each year in Canberra and the commissioning of the State of the Regions report, prepared annually for ALGA by National Economics.

Over the years, the State of the Regions reports have clearly shown that successful localities are built on collaborative approaches, reliant on numerous leaders that are able to bring together bottom--up and top-down solutions.  I strongly believe that it is local government - the level of government closest to the people - that can make a real difference in delivering initiatives and infrastructure that will lead to the sustainable social, economic and environmental outcomes desired by our communities.  However, this cannot be achieved without the support and engagement of the other levels of government, the business sector and the communities themselves.

The role played by local government in ensuring sustainable, local and regional economic development is more complex than simply just providing for and maintaining the extensive hard infrastructure, like roads, waste services, and in some states, water, drainage and sewerage systems.  The principal roles played by many local governments in local economic development include the provision of libraries, recreational facilities, park lands, industrial estates, main streets, and the organisation of festivals and events to promote arts and cultural activities.  Increasingly, local government is also the glue that ensures the aged, the young, families, new immigrants and disabled are given every opportunity to be part of a community. 

We, as local government, are also the long-term strategic planners and the approval bodies for the vast majority of development and building applications.  We help to build and support local businesses and create opportunities for new enterprises by delivering a range of incentives and innovative solutions to ensure our built form is sustainable.  While I am proud of what local government has achieved over the years, the sector requires leadership and adequate financial resources from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to ensure it can continue to meet its many responsibilities in economically and socially assisting and supporting local and regional communities.

As I told the forum, if Australia is to maintain its desire for a sustainable future, there will need to be an increase in the level of Commonwealth leadership, engagement and financial assistance to the states and in particular, local government.  

Mayor, Dr Felicity-ann Lewis
ALGA President

NBN Co releases annual report

NBN Co this week released its latest annual report, revealing it earned a tenth of what it was expected to be earning by 2013.

NBN Co's report states that by 27 August, work on fibre connections had begun at 1.2 million premises, including 85,000 in new housing estates, and that it has passed 207,000 premises with fibre.  It had 33,586 active fibre connections and 36,514 active wireless or satellite connections.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has commissioned a fresh review of the project.  The new government plans to change NBN Co to a fibre-to-the-node rollout, which would affect the current financial assumptions due to changes in cost and revenue forecasts.

The annual report completed on August 27 reveals NBN Co earned revenues of $17 million for 2012-13.  This was up from $2 million in 2011-12 but far less than the previous government was expecting it to be earning by now.  It recorded a post-tax loss of $932 million, with operational costs reaching $1 billion, nearly double the previous year.

In 2010, NBN Co forecast it would earn revenues of $160 million in 2012-13, with a view to tapping debt markets for funding by 2015 or 2016. The most recent corporate plan still expects to be able to attract funding from investors within two years, but this prediction relies on revenues reaching $377 million and getting 1.2 million active connections by July 2015.

Federal funding for NBN Co has been lower than expected due to construction delays.

Alcohol interlock program to be made mandatory to target drink drivers

NSW Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay has announced alcohol interlocks are to be made mandatory for high range and repeat drink drive offenders, in a bid to reduce the number of drink-driving offences.

Alcohol interlocks are an electronic device connected to the ignition of a vehicle preventing it from starting if the driver has been drinking, providing an effective physical barrier between drinking and driving. 

Legislation will be introduced into Parliament next year, which also will provide for additional penalties for drivers who exceed their demerit point limit.

The decision to introduce alcohol interlocks follows a suggestion from NRMA Motoring & Services.

"The installation of mandatory interlocks means drivers who have been convicted of high range or repeat drink driving will be physically prevented from drink driving in the future because the interlock will prevent the vehicle from starting," Mr Gay said.

"Road safety experts estimate the introduction of mandatory interlocks will prevent at least 140 alcohol related crashes, six fatalities and 102 injuries in the first five years alone.

"We also believe there will also be about 500 fewer drink driving offences per year across the state once mandatory interlocks are introduced," the Minister said.

Drink drivers who are convicted of a second or subsequent offence in a five year period will also be required to pass a driving knowledge test.

Additional penalties will also be introduced for drivers who exceed their demerit point limit twice in five years, requiring these drivers to re-sit the Driver Knowledge Test and complete a driver education course.

The mandatory interlock program was developed by the NSW Government in consultation with key stakeholders including the NSW Road Safety Advisory Council and NRMA Motoring & Services.

Community involvement in liquor licensing decisions

The National Local Government Drug and Alcohol Committee (NLGDAAC) partnered with The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) on 24 October at a forum which discussed community involvement in NSW liquor licensing processes.

FARE launched their report Breaking down the barriers: Community involvement in liquor licensing decisions in NSW at the event. The report calls for the establishment of a Community Defenders Office within the NSW State Government to provide an information and advisory service, along with communication networks and resources that would assist members of the community to overcome the legislative, regulatory and resource challenges facing stakeholders in influencing liquor licensing matters. The report is available at

FARE (via its NSW/ACT Alcohol Action Policy Alliance - NAAPA) also launched its Save our Streets campaign that in addition to the Community Defenders Office, calls on the NSW Premier to:

  • Revise the liquor licensing system to ensure greater engagement of communities in liquor licensing decisions
  • Introduce annual liquor licensing fees based on the level of risk venues pose to the community and
  • Abolish 24 hour trading and close trading at licensed venues by 3am

See for further information.

NTC and Austroads deepen links to improve transport regulatory reform

Stronger ties between the National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads promise to take road transport regulatory reform in Australia to a new level.

The two major Australian transport associations this week signed a new agreement to form a common line of action on road transport issues such as research, policy development, implementation and  operational matters.

Among the key areas of cooperation will be joint work to help pave the way for emerging technologies that will make the nation's roads safer. NTC Chief Executive and Commissioner Paul Retter said that the closely coordinated working relationship between Austroads and NTC was important for the success of road transport regulatory reform.

"State and territory road transport authorities, together with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) have primary responsibility for the implementation of national transport reform. This is enhanced through the ongoing collaboration of Austroads and NTC," said Mr Retter.

Mr Retter said one of the key areas of focus will see the NTC and Austroads continue to work together to prepare Australia for the introduction of co-operative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS).

This new technology has potential to radically improve road safety by enabling vehicles and surrounding infrastructure to exchange information about the location, speed and direction of other road users also using C-ITS.

"As technology changes, organisations like the NTC and Austroads need to provide policy and technical guidance on related issues such as privacy, liability and driver distraction," Mr Retter said.

NTC will work with Austroads to identify research opportunities and help develop Austroads strategic plan and annual work program. Austroads will have input into developing the NTC's policies on transport regulatory and operational reform, mainly through research projects.

"The agreement will make implementation of national transport reforms more practical and effective," Mr Retter said.

More information about co-operative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) is available on the NTC website.

Volunteers thinning because of job security and liability concerns

The number of volunteer firefighters and emergency service members is set to decline significantly in South Australia, a report has found.

The review of the state's Fire and Emergency Services Act by State MP Paul Holloway has made 38 recommendations.

Eight of those have been identified as priorities and will be implemented immediately.

The report found current volunteer ranks are thinning for several reasons, including the ageing population, increased paperwork and fears about liability.

The job security of officers taking time off work to respond to emergencies was also a growing concern.

"Although they have not yet reached a critical point, volunteer numbers are likely to decline significantly over the next decade," the report found.

"This is particularly an issue for smaller rural communities that have seen amalgamation of farms and a loss of population to larger centres."

National recognition for Unley's innovative FindYourEverything

The City of Unley's ground-breaking enterprise website FindYourEverything (FYE) has just been recognised with the Economic Development Marketing Strategy Award at the National Economic Development Australia (EDA) Conference.

Competing against a strong team of contenders, FYE was the only award winner for South Australia.  "This award is recognition for not only the FYE team at the City of Unley, but for all businesses and trader associations who have embraced the Find Your Everything project." says Peter Tsokas, Unley's Chief Executive Officer. "It's great to receive national recognition for the success of this strategy for the local economy".

The award recognises excellence in the successful development and implementation of marketing strategies designed to promote sales and patronage of local business.  Judged by industry peers, criteria used to select the award winner included innovation, creativity, quality, sustainability and contribution to the profession of Economic Development.

The FYE website live in December 2012 and is supported by a number of social media platforms - Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.  FYE promotes unique, predominately independent traders, operating traditional 'bricks and mortar' businesses. Its aim is to drive foot traffic in-store and increase tourism to the region.

The City of Unley has utilised the expertise of David Penfold from Webmastermind for their digital marketing processes. ToolBox Design, a local South Australian design company, developed the FYE visual concept and brand.

"FYE has exceeded all of our expectations and we put this down to the businesses who really got behind our vision." says Matt Grant, Manager Economic Development at the City of Unley.

Since its inception has attracted more than 20 000 unique visitors and more than 3000 members. The website encourages visitors to subscribe to receive free regular e-newsletters providing an up-to-date guide on what is happening around the City of Unley, including reviews, events, competitions and special offers.

The FYE Facebook site has 4980 Facebook fans.  Over 170 Facebook posts have been viewed more than 1.55 million times with an impressive 35225 direct clicks through to local City of Unley businesses.

Whilst it's a great award to celebrate, the FYE team won’t be resting on their laurels. "We recognise that technology is evolving so rapidly that the Unley digital strategy is more like an emerging strategy," says Matt. "It needs to be flexible and adaptable as new technology platforms appear."

New national skills for elected members

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) at UTS has supported the development of a new course for NSW councillors called the Executive Certificate for Elected Members.

The program is one of the first such programs to be based on the new National Local Government Training Package Skills Set for Elected Members, and was developed by project partners the Centre for Local Government at UTS (UTS:CLG), TAFE NSW, and Local Government NSW (LGNSW).

Another unique feature of the program is that eligible participants of the Executive Certificate in NSW will be able to access further learning with TAFE NSW and UTS.

Joint President of Local Government NSW, Cr Ray Donald, said the Executive Certificate for Elected Members is an exciting step for LGNSW and its member councils, as it's the first time such a high quality course has been offered to NSW councillors.

"The Independent Local Government Review Panel's '20 Essential Steps' discussion paper emphasised the importance of councillor professional skill development and training, and this course will enable NSW councillors to achieve a Statement of Attainment for the National Elected Members' Skill Set," Cr Donald said.

More than two million people own businesses

More than two million people either own or operate one or more businesses in Australia, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Karen Connaughton from the ABS said that since 2006-07, the average individual income for a business operator has increased from $799 per week to $999 per week in 2011-12.

"Our report shows the average business owners or operators were men (67 per cent) aged between 45 and 54 and women (33 per cent) aged between 35 and 44."

"Over 80 per cent of men worked full time in their businesses in contrast to 40 per cent of woman working full time.

"Based on 2011 Census findings, business operators are 96 per cent likely to run a small business, employ between 1 to 19 staff, and are educated to Year 12 or equivalent," Ms Connaughton added.

Over 70 per cent of business owners and operators were born in Australia, but for those not born in Australia the most common period of arrival was in between 1981 to 1990.

Family operated businesses accounted for 87 per cent of businesses, and 42 per cent of these had dependants.

In addition, approximately 40 per cent of business operators indicted they spent time caring for a child or children without being paid.

The Counts of Australian Business Operators, 2011-12 publication collects information on small business operators including income, educational level, family status, region of birth and regional geographic status.

Further information is available in Counts of Australian Business Operators (cat. no. 8175.0).

Meeting of the National Local Government Cultural Forum

On 15 October, members of the National Local Government Cultural Forum met in Perth to endorse the Forum's Term of Reference and consider a range of discussion papers on topics agreed at the inaugural meeting held in Canberra on 19 June.

The National Local Government Cultural Forum is a partnership between the Australian Local Government Association, Cultural Development Network, Global Cities Research Institute at RMIT University, and the Australia Council.

The Forum is chaired by the Hon. Fred Chaney AO and members include representatives from the seven state and territory local government associations and the eight Australian capital cities, plus ALGA, the Australia Council for the Arts - Community Partnerships, the Commonwealth Ministry for the Arts, Global Cities Research Institute (RMIT University) and the Cultural Development Network.  A communiqué from this meeting can be found on the ALGA website, here.

Australian Sustainable Cities and Clean Beaches Awards 2013

The Australian Sustainable Cities and Clean Beaches Awards 2013 is only two weeks away and tickets for the presentation are available at

Special guest just announced will be Josh Byrne, from Gardening Australia.  Born in Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia, Josh spent his early childhood years surrounded by some of Australia's best coast and bushland.  He is an environmental scientist with a passion for sustainable gardening, appropriate technology and innovative environmental design.

The awards are taking place at the Coogee Beach Surf Life Saving Club on Monday 18 November.  Hosted by City of Cockburn, last year's Sustainable City title holder, the Nation's top environmental achievers will showcase the reasons why they are finalists in the Australian Sustainable Cities Awards 2013.

The leading lights of Australian sustainability 2013 are:

  • Brisbane City Council QLD
  • Canberra Indian Myna Action Group ACT
  • City of Canada Bay Council NSW
  • City of Marion SA
  • City of Moreland VIC
  • City of Swan WA
  • Launceston TAS

The clean beaches making a splash are:

  • Currumbin QLD
  • Godfreys Beach TAS
  • Frankston VIC
  • Holdfast Bay SA
  • Huskisson NSW

The event includes breakfast, morning tea, lunch and a drinks reception. A tour of the City of Cockburn, and National finalists case study presentations - which will provide you with valuable insight into the accomplishments of other successful projects around the country.

The closing date for tickets has been extended to Friday 8 November.

For more information, contact:
Stacey Passey
Program Manager
0419 016 401


ALGA News can be read online each week at
Editor: Tel: 02 6122 9434.
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