The ALGA Board met this week to consider the Resolutions from the 2012 National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) and to determine the provisional dates for next year’s NGA.
The NGA is scheduled to be held during a federal Parliamentary Sitting Period to enable delegates to meet with their local federal member whilst in Canberra. The NGA dates will be confirmed with the release of the Parliamentary Sittings calendar in November this year, however based on the historical sitting pattern the Board agreed to the provisional dates being Sunday 16 - Wednesday 19 June 2013. The NGA will again be held at the National Convention Centre in Canberra.
The ALGA Board also considered the Resolutions from this year’s NGA. ALGA will write to the movers of the motions with details of the outcomes of the Board’s consideration in the coming weeks. ALGA will also directly pursue the Resolutions with the Australian Government as well as through ALGA’s ongoing advocacy work.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 33rd meeting in Canberra on Wednesday 25 July. The Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) attended. Given that the next COAG is not expected until after the end of the term of the ALGA President, the Leaders acknowledged Mayor Genia McCaffery, President of ALGA, and thanked her for her contribution.
The major outcome from the meeting was the in-principle agreement with South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory on establishing the first stage of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) from July 2013. These jurisdictions agreed to engage closely in the implementation of the first stage, noting this will inform the move to a national insurance-based approach to disability care and support.
These jurisdictions agreed to work together on the development of Commonwealth legislation to establish both the scheme and a national launch agency to administer the scheme during the launch phase. The agency will be responsible for managing Commonwealth and State funds in a single national pool, and undertaking planning, assessment and approval of individual support packages.
The launch of the NDIS in three jurisdictions will also provide an opportunity to test how the new scheme interacts with different local governments. It is also an opportunity to gauge what if any expectations there might be on councils, bearing in mind that councils do not generally play a role in this area but would be involved in the related National Injury Insurance Scheme, slated for introduction over the next few years.
COAG also noted the progress report on the Future Competition and Regulatory Reform from its inter-jurisdictional Taskforce which was set up to advise COAG following the successful Business Advisory Forum meeting in April. The Taskforce has been consulting with peak business bodies and other organisations interested in specific reforms, including conservation groups which have an interest in environmental regulation reforms.
ALGA welcomed COAG’s agreement to a construction and building costs study, particularly given that escalating construction costs have been a significant cost driver for local government for many years, and ALGA will seek to ensure opportunities for local government input into the study.
ALGA President, Genia McCaffery is lending her support to Anti-Poverty Week, which will be held from 14-20 October to recognise the great work being done to reduce poverty and hardship.
“Anti-Poverty Week is a very meaningful entry in my calendar each year and I encourage every council around Australia to get involved,” Mayor McCaffery said.
Anti-Poverty Week is a time for communities and organisations all over Australia to focus attention on reducing poverty and hardship. Every action is valuable, whether it is about preventing people from experiencing poverty, helping people to escape it or reducing its impact.
“It’s an important time to connect with our communities, to recognise the great work being done to promote social justice and to take positive steps towards reducing poverty and hardship through initiatives we can implement locally,” Mayor McCaffery explained.
“Bottom-up action at a grassroots level does make a difference. It can shift attitudes and perspectives, it can create opportunities for connecting with people experiencing exclusion and it can provide resources to help alleviate disadvantage.”
During Anti-Poverty Week, councils can help to fight poverty and hardship by:
- strengthening public understanding of poverty and hardship around the world and Australia
- encouraging research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, organisations and governments
- inspiring commitment to make a difference.
“Town hall meetings where councillors and community members discuss local perspectives on poverty; special information and advice stalls; job skills workshops; fundraising morning teas; concerts; presentations to showcase anti-poverty week by local organisations; and storytelling in the park by the local library are just some examples of how councils can help strengthen the understanding of poverty and inspire communities to make a difference.”
For more information about Anti-Poverty Week and how to get involved, visit www.antipovertyweek.org.au
It is no secret that councils are called upon to exercise regulatory responsibility across a wide range of business and commercial activity. It was no surprise, therefore, when the Productivity Commission was asked to report on the Role of Local Government as a Regulator as part of the Commission’s benchmarking investigations of the impact of government regulation on business.
The Commission released its final report last week and it makes interesting reading. I am pleased that the Commission has understood that much of local government’s regulatory role comes from state requirements and policies. While the Commission has identified some lack of consistency across councils in regulation, it’s good the Commission has acknowledged that some of the likely reasons for this lack of consistency include “local governments having insufficient resources to implement the reforms, unclear specification and communication of the requirements and priorities of the reform agendas to local governments, and non-alignment of the priorities of local communities with those of higher levels of government”.
One of the opportunities from the report is to identify some leading practices and encourage councils to adopt improved approaches to regulation. Although this is a good result from the report, it is also important that the Commission was only able to focus on the likely costs for business rather than the benefits to all groups from regulation. It is important to remember that the benefits from regulation are spread across the community. It also needs to be acknowledged, as highlighted by the Report, that councils are often prevented from recovering the costs from the regulatory responsibilities they are required to undertake and this does little to help promote effectiveness and efficiency.
The Report provides a useful snapshot of the challenges facing councils in improving their regulatory activities. There can be no doubt that many councils can do things better and I know that my own council is always looking for ways to improve processes and outcomes. But the Report makes it plain that the key to making regulation simpler and less costly is to ensure that all levels of government work more closely together, the need to involve those subject to the regulation and that councils receive more support (in terms of resources, skilled staff and guidance) in undertaking their role. Local government would welcome and support such action
Mayor Genia McCaffery
A speech by Federal Attorney-General the Hon Nicola Roxon to a constitutional studies conferred at the university of Melbourne last week has indicated that the government is committed to holding a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government.
“The Government believes the time has come for changes to reflect the important place of Indigenous Australians in our society and the significant role of local government”, Minister Roxon said.
In her speech “A Static Constitution? A very Australian Standoff”, Minister Roxon refers to the difficulty of changing the Constitution due to the double majority requirement, but that the Constitution is, and should be seen as, a living document and that the “document that government our democracy can only strictly be changed by amending the text with a strong public vote driven by clear consensus amongst political groups.”
The Australian Labor Party, she said had shown itself willing to challenge the constitutional status quo more often that all other parties in Australia’s history. However, in addition to bipartisan support, civil society must be engaged and take a lead. “It takes a dozen politicians to do what a school principal, a columnist, one sports star, dare I say one Vice Chancellor can do if they put their voice to a cause”, she said.
The recent High Court judgement in the Williams case has instigated a fundamental change in the was governments must set up programs that involve any expenditure, she said adding that the decision had overturned the understanding on which the Commonwealth had acted since federation.
In relation to the previous attempts to recognise local government in 1974 and 1988, Minister Roxon said that history made clear that support needs to come from a broad base of the community.
Constitutional change is responsibility of the Australian people, she concluded. It is not the Government or the Court, but “only the Australian people, voting at a referendum, who can bring about such change.”
The full text of the speech is available at: here.
As reported in the 25 May edition of ALGA News, the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) has endorsed the National Airports Safeguarding Framework (the Framework), which includes guidelines relating to, amongst other things, managing the impacts of aircraft noise. The Framework is an initiative flowing from the Commonwealth Government’s 2009 Aviation White Paper. SCOTI’s endorsement of the Framework was subject to the Commonwealth’s intention to seek a review of Australian Standard 2021-2000: Acoustics-Aircraft Noise Intrusion-Building Siting and Construction.
The Department of Infrastructure and Transport has advised that it has been working with Standards Australia to commence a review of AS2021. A draft proposal for this work has now been published on the Department’s website and interested stakeholders are invited to submit comments, which are due no later than 24 August 2012.
A copy of the proposal can be found here.
People in the area worst hit by Queensland's deadly floods are set to sleep easier on rainy nights after the introduction of a new flood warning system.
Lockyer Valley Regional Council is switching on the new system on Tuesday, but Pastor Rob Farr from Murphys Creek Presbyterian Church will take a wait-and-see approach.
Devastating flash floods killed 17 valley residents in 2011 and many survivors still fear the rain.
"There's a little four-year-old boy in Gatton I know who gets quite scared when his dad goes to work when it's raining," Mr Farr said.
Mayor Steve Jones says his communities will have the best flood warning system in Queensland when the rains return.
"Should there be some sort of rainfall event or whatever we'll be better off," he said.
A southeast Queensland city will ban trolleys from its streets, threatening retailers with $1000 fines if they don't corral them.
Ipswich City Council voted for the ban on Tuesday in what's believed to be a Queensland first.
The council's preferred system is an automatic wheel lock, which an electronic detector would trigger at store exits.
The trolley lock costs between $150 and $200 per trolley and the cost will be borne by retailers.
Councillor Paul Tully says this is the same as what it costs supermarkets and other retailers to replace stolen trolleys.
"Once this new system is in place we expect trolley thefts to drop to zero, so it will benefit all parties involved," he said.
"When the lock engages it will be near impossible for perpetrators to remove the trolley."
If the state government approves the move, all Ipswich shopping centres and supermarkets will be required to implement trolley containment systems by July 1 next year.
From that date, $1000 fines will be imposed on retailers who don't comply.
Coin return systems did not provide enough incentive to stop trolleys littering streets and creeks, Mr Tully says.
Securing a sustainable food supply now and in years to come is something that matters to Australians the country over, and the community and industry will soon have their chance to help shape the future of food policy in Australia with the release of a National Food Plan green paper.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said consultation would begin in towns and cities across Australia after the official launch of the green paper today, which provides the basis for discussion around what should be included in the National Food Plan itself.
“Australia produces enough food to feed a nation almost three times our size, our food system is safe and stable, and there are many new opportunities to export more food to Asia,” Minister Ludwig said.
The formal consultation includes a series of public meetings to be held across Australia as well as opportunities for people to make written submissions. People will also be able to follow the conversation on Twitter or via the National Food Plan blog on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.
The green paper will outline the government’s ongoing commitment to partner with the food industry, across the supply chain, to help seize the growth opportunities for the coming decades. Major streams include better regulation, innovation, skills, natural resource management and trade.
For more information on the National Food Plan and how to participate in the consultation process visit National food plan website.
The Australian Government is working to help vulnerable families in five areas of high disadvantage across Australia with a range of new programs, including through the introduction of income management.
Income management helps families ensure their welfare payments are spent in the best interests of children.
It ensures that money is available for life essentials, and provides a tool to stabilise people's circumstances and ease immediate financial stress.
The five locations are the Local Government Areas of Bankstown (NSW), Greater Shepparton, (Vic), Rockhampton (Qld), Logan (Qld), and Playford (SA).
The Government chose these areas based on a number of factors, including unemployment, skills gaps, the numbers of people relying on welfare payments as their primary source of income and the length of time recipients have been receiving income support payments.
The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said it was important people in the five areas understand how income management will work in their community.
For those people who volunteer for income management and those people who are assessed by social workers as being vulnerable, fifty per cent of their welfare payments are set aside for basic necessities.
More information about these initiatives can be found here.
A Sydney council has unanimously rejected a recommendation to stop its mayor from speaking out against the trading hours of a fast food outlet.
The Green's Lyall Kennedy, Mayor of Ashfield in Sydney's inner west, had been campaigning against the operations of a 24-hour MacDonald's in the area and is now free to continue after a move to censure his public opposition was dismissed by the council.
He said the decision to reject the "recommendation from a code of conduct reviewer" reflected the common sense view that elected representatives must be able to speak up in the interest of residents.
"I'm proud to be mayor of a council that looks out for the needs of residents," Mr Kennedy said in a statement on Tuesday.
"It was heartening to have the support of the council and to see this vexatious complaint knocked on the head."
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge praised Mr Kennedy's efforts and called for a new planning system that would help promote community concerns.
"It takes courage to stand up to a powerful multinational company and that courage has been vindicated," he said.
"NSW needs a planning system which allows the voice of the community to be heard not stifled."
The International Green Awards, a leading platform for sustainability intelligence, leadership and innovation, has now launched for the seventh year.
This year, the awards are free to enter and include a free sustainability review for all participants.
The awards are being judged by a global panel of influential and respected experts, advocates and spokespeople in international sustainability including the former Costa Rican President José María Figueres; former Executive Secretary to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), Yvo de Boer and Andrew Steer, incoming President at the World Resources Institute (WRI).
In its seventh year, the awards are looking to recognise organisations that have exhibited leadership and innovation in their sustainability approach. The awards will recognise those organisations that have embedded sustainability into their DNA, where all aspects of the agenda are addressed and assessed against each other.
Organisations can enter six categories this year based on size and status, each of which will be evaluated against eight sustainability indicators which should be integral to a well-rounded sustainability strategy.
For more details visit www.greenawards.com
AEMI regularly runs both nationally recognised training courses and a professional development program. Upcoming courses include:
To enrol in any of the courses above, please contact Alita Menchavez at email@example.com
Lifelong Learning = Resilient Communities
The 52nd Annual ALA Conference will be held in BYRON BAY, NSW on 10-12th October 2012
The Adult Learning Australia conference explores ways that Lifelong Learning nurtures resilience in the face of challenging times. The full conference program is now available and the early bird discount ends in five days. To register or for more information click here.
Now that the Disability (Access to Premises - buildings) Standards 2010 (Premises Standards) have been in operation for over a year the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) has decided to update the Guideline on the application of the Premises Standards (the Guideline) first published in March 2011.
The Commission has contracted a consultant to engage with members of key organisations to identify any parts of the Guideline that could be made clearer and more useful. Resources available for this project are limited so a broad restructuring of the resource will not be possible at this stage.
This update is therefore not a review of the Premises Standards, but rather an attempt to draw on the experiences of building professionals, regulators, access experts and advocates to identify any aspects of the Guideline that could be expressed more clearly.
Please note that any changes to the Guideline must be consistent with the primary document, that being the Premises Standards.
Examples of interpretation issues that have arisen in their practice would should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nelson City Council
The City Council employs 260 staff, it is a unitary authority, has city owned assets of $1.22 billion and an operating budget for 2012/13 of $94.4 million. Staff are inspired to “Make Nelson a Better Place”, have high engagement levels and are focused on achieving customer service excellence.
The Chief Executive is responsible for the provision of informed and accurate advice to the Council, the delivery of its plans and priorities and leadership of its staff. Working with a broad range of stakeholders requires skills in consultation, influencing, communication, judgement and organisational leadership.
Key attributes sought in the appointee include:
- Proven inspired senior executive and strategic leadership experience
- Strong relationship management and communication skills
- Ideally, an understanding of local body organisation and functions
- Proven political, operational and financial acumen
- A genuine commitment to and vision for the area, including iwi
For further information on Nelson City Council, please visit www.nelsoncitycouncil.co.nz
Confidential enquiries can be made to Graham Ewing or Kerrie McGirr. Applications for this role close on Friday 17 August 2012. Applications will be acknowledged by email.
Email: email@example.com Website: www.eqiglobal.com
PO Box 13-419 Christchurch New Zealand Phone +64 3 377 7793