The Productivity Commission's final report on Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: The Role of Local Government as Regulator was released this week. The study sought to identify areas of regulation implemented by local government that may place unnecessary regulatory burdens on Australian businesses. The report provides constructive advice for all levels of government and importantly, reinforces the need for state and territory governments to provide clear guidance and appropriate resources to councils to ensure minimum necessary and efficient regulation.
The Commission has paid particular attention to the processes under which state, territory and Commonwealth governments delegate regulatory responsibility to local governments; how local laws are developed and monitored; the resourcing of local governments' regulatory activities and the ability of businesses, especially small businesses, to have their concerns addressed through low cost, graduated dispute handling procedures.
Commissioner Warren Mundy said: “Local governments interact with Australian businesses every day. While poor local decision-making processes can place unnecessary compliance burdens on businesses, especially small ones, it is clear that the first step in addressing these is for the states and the Northern Territory to ensure the regulatory frameworks they require local governments to administer are fit for purpose.”
“Given the huge diversity of local governments across Australia, it is vital that higher levels of government understand the capacity of local government to deliver the desired regulatory outcomes. Where resources and skills are scarce, local government must be given clear guidance as to how to prioritise their regulatory activities.”
“As local governments can inadvertently or incorrectly impose costs on business, it is important that businesses have access to well-defined dispute handling processes that allow complaints and grievances to be considered in an objective and timely manner,” Dr Mundy said.
In this study for COAG, the Commission examined the regulatory activities of local governments across all states and the Northern Territory. The final report has identified leading practices in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom which, if implemented more widely, have the potential to lower the costs imposed on business while maintaining the outcomes sought by local government regulation.
To access the final report, click here.
Infrastructure Australia (IA), an advisory council established by the Federal Government in 2008, has presented its fourth annual report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
The focus of the latest report remains on the importance of Australia’s infrastructure now and into the future. IA argues that to make the most of current and future opportunities, governments at all levels along with industry and other stakeholders need to refine planning, funding and financing and governance paradigms.
IA argues for a shift in the planning paradigm towards considering infrastructure as a strategic enabler to improve Australians’ lives, to better shape cities and regions. The IA report also canvasses the importance of asset management, citing the efforts of local government in this area as an example for states and the private sector.
IA has for a number of years sought to emphasise the potential impact of a shortfall in government funding for the development of infrastructure and the importance of considering alternative funding and financing options including greater use of private financing. Such an approach brings into sharp focus our willingness to pay for infrastructure through user charging mechanisms.
The 2012 infrastructure priority list includes a pipeline of potential projects across a number of areas of interest to IA. However, given IA has imposed a minimum capital cost threshold of $100 million for projects to be considered for the priority list, there are only very limited opportunities for most councils to have any projects considered as nationally significant, so as to attract federal Government funding.
Within the list, there remain only a small number of projects that IA considers to be “ready to proceed”. These are proposals that meet IA’s reform and investment framework to deliver the greatest value for money. Delivery of these projects is subject to funding decisions by the Australian and relevant state governments and actual construction may not commence for many years. The projects are:
- Brisbane Cross River Rail
- Melbourne Metro Stage 1
- Victorian Managed Motorways - Monash Freeway (High street to Warrigal Road and Warrigal Road to Clyde Road) and
- Pacific Highway Corridor Upgrades.
IA has included a proposal by the Western Australian Government to upgrade a range of infrastructure in Karratha and Port Hedland to ensure that the Pilbara can support and deliver a local skilled workforce to support future growth. The projects included in the proposal are still in the early stages of development and IA is recommending that the Australian Government provide project development funding. The total cost is estimated to be in the order of $2.9 billion.
To access the IA report, click here.
The Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean has recognised collaborative partnerships between government and industry and the use of innovative and sustainable ways to finance infrastructure as vital in helping regional cities, including mid-sized cities, to grow and develop.
During a presentation last week to the MidiCities: Leaders in Australian Urban Future Conference, held south of Brisbane in the Logan and Redlands region, Minister Crean said that Australia’s midi-cities needed to be “smart” to grow sustainably.
“One of the cornerstones of a ‘smart-city’ is the way that local governments and regional bodies manage their asset base and finance their infrastructure investments,” Minister Crean said.
“We need to give more consideration to private sector partnerships, exploring financing instruments such as tax increment financing and identifying opportunities to create markets such as through ‘waste-to-energy’ projects.”
Minister Crean said that one in five Australians now lived in midi and regional cities, many of which are growing at a faster rate than Australia’s five capital cities, and that it was important to concentrate on how to provide the infrastructure required to support and sustain those populations.
“Forums like this paly a vital role in allowing midi-cities to connect with each other to better understand your competitive advantages, share expertise and knowledge,” he said.
Minister Crean also outlined the role of Regional Development Australia Committees (RDAs), explaining that they perform an important strategic role in engaging with local government and regional organisations of councils.
“For regionalism to be effective then RDAs have to be empowered and strengthened to perform their role in their regions.”
Last week, I welcomed the announcement by Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig that the Commonwealth would be providing $4.9 million dollars in community grants as part of the Caring for our Country program. Caring for our Country has been the Australian Government’s primary program for supporting those undertaking natural resource management (NRM) projects.
The announcement in this year’s Budget that Caring for Our Country will be receiving $2.2 billion in the forward estimates is good news for all those who value strong NRM practices. Another important step has been the re-design of the program from 2013-14. From that time, instead of all projects being funded out of a set of diverse pools, there will be two funding streams, one for agriculture-based projects and another for environmental management projects. While strong NRM practices are a key element of local government’s core business, a complaint leveled against the program has been that local government has been excluded from consideration, either by design or by accidental omission.
Recently, efforts have been made both by ALGA and both relevant departments to improve the access for local government to this vital source of funding. There is still some way to go to ensure the issues with the previous structure to not resurface, however, the engagement with the departments has been extremely positive.
This program also links to a new grant fund that has been established under the Clean Energy Futures package, the Biodiversity Fund, which has a pool of $946 million to be distributed over the next six years. This fund provides even more opportunities for councils and other related community organisations to apply for direct funding for a range of projects with the aim to either remove threats from or to promote greater biodiversity in their communities.
Both of these programs are positive signs that the Commonwealth is putting NRM back on the national agenda and putting the resources behind them so that they are effective and create mutually beneficial outcomes to ensure the program continues well into the future. The other positive element is the engagement with the local government sector. This is a positive development to assist local councils to carry out a vital element of the core business and present the outcomes of effective NRM to our communities.
Mayor Genia McCaffery
The Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning (CHURP) is facilitating an online survey which aims to collect data on what local government is, or is not doing in homelessness and housing currently. All local governments will be notified of the survey results once finalised.
This survey is available to council staff only. If you would like further information and/or access to the survey, please contact email@example.com
Separate workshops have been held around the country to examine this issue in detail and get a better perspective from local government as to the challenges and barriers associated with dealing with homlessness.
The research is being funded by FaCHSIA as part of 15 research projects under the National Partnership on Homelessness (NPAH). It is anticipated that the findings will then assist to inform deliberations for future homelessness partnerships at Commonwealth level as the NPAH expires in 2013.
CHURP is a newly established research centre at The University of Adelaide. It comprises a network of researchers, academics and other practitioners whose shared vision is to undertake high quality housing, urban and regional research and disseminate their findings for the betterment of society.
The Centre is headed by Professor Andrew Beer, Professor of Geography at the University of Adelaide.
Next week will see the launch of three reports resulting from a national review of Australia’s liquor licensing legislation. This project, undertaken by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), was initiated under the former Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy (MCDS) Cost Shared Funding Model (now administered under the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs, National Drug Strategy, Cost Shared Funding Model). The project was overseen by and undertaken in partnership with SA Police.
The project was carried out to examine liquor licensing legislation in detail and to identify its strengths and weaknesses, especially from a law enforcement perspective.
The reports identify the key features of liquor licensing legislation in each state and territory and provide examples of effective legislative tools. They also highlight the perspectives of law enforcement personnel concerning their roles in preventing and reducing alcohol-related crime and associated harms. In addition, the reports recommend improvements to liquor licensing legislation.
The reports will be launched at the following time and location:
Tuesday 24 July at 10.00am
Flinders University City Campus
Room 1, Level 1
182 Victoria Square
A revised National Emergency Management Volunteer Action Plan, 2012 was released by Ministers at the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management (SCPEM) meeting on 29 June 2012.
The Plan and associated Summary of Achievements, which outlines jurisdictional achievements in support of emergency management volunteers, are available on the Volunteers page of the Australian Emergency Management website - www.em.gov.au.
Implementation of the Plan will be coordinated through the Capability Development Branch of the National Security Capability Development Division of the Attorney–General’s Department.
For futher information contact:
Director National Security Projects
Ph: 02 6141 3756
A report to the Federal government - Australia’s country towns 2050: what will a climate adapted settlement pattern look like? – has found climate change may mean hundreds of inland Australian towns may cease to exist by 2050. One of the report's authors says education rates are critical to adapt to a warming climate, because they result in sensible adaptation decisions. Adelaide University's Professor Andrew Beer also says climate scepticism is impeding adaptation in some communities.
The report considers the impact of climate change on Australia’s country towns out to the year 2050 and the capacity of this component of Australia’s settlement system to adapt.
The project recognises that non-metropolitan Australia will be greatly affected by climate change in ways that differ greatly from the capital cities. Key changes will include shifts in agricultural productivity, the impact of extreme weather events, changing local environments and the diminution of resources, including major river systems. These ecologically-driven changes will interact with long term demographic, economic and social shifts to produce complex outcomes.
One of the fundamental goals of this project was to develop a more systematic understanding of the consequences of climate change on inland country towns and other settlements across rural and regional Australia.
2012 National Farm Safety Week was recognised across the country this week.
The Week aims to raise awareness of farm safety issues in rural communities across Australia.
This years National Farm Safety Week theme is "Farm Safety - Fix it for Everyone".
This theme continues to highlight the importance of business and industry working together to achieve the Farmsafe mission / vision statement of improving the well-being of Australian farmers through improved attention to health and safety.
Farm Safety Week has been running successfully for the past 15 years and provides a national focus on farm safety.
A wide range of materials that can assist people that work and live on farms to reduce the risks to themselves, farm workers, family members and visitors is available from the Farmsafe WA website www.farmsafewa.org or by contacting the office on 9359 4118.
La Trobe University and the University of Western Sydney are conducting research on practitioner learning needs regarding children and their environments.
Interested parties are invited to participate in a short ten-minute questionnaire about the learning needs of practitioners who:
- advocate for children’s participation in decisions affecting their lives and their environments in which they live;
- organise, encourage and facilitate children’s inclusion in matters of citizenship and their independent use of the environments in which they live;
- may be considering a career redirection or change into an area related to children and their environments.
Practitioners include planners, urban designers, transport planners, health promoters, community development workers, educators, play specialists and other professionals seeking to work in areas related to children’s environments.
The purpose of the study is to identify if professional or university based courses, subjects or modules should be developed in relation to planning, design and policy as it relates to children's urban and regional environments.
Please contact Dr J.Rudner for further details on:
T: +61 (0)3 5444 7228
M: +61(0)4 3878 3637
The questionnaire can be accessed until Friday, 7 September 2012 using the following link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/studychildenviro
Local government elections could be compulsory for some Tasmanians from next year.
Local Government Minister Bryan Green has floated the idea at the local government annual conference, despite delegates voting down the Hobart City Council's bid to introduce compulsory elections.
Minster Green told the conference that four yearly elections should be introduced, as a less disruptive option than the current two-year model.
He also wanted to introduce opt-in compulsory voting.
Under the plan, Government would give councils the power to decide if their elections are compulsory.
"What I'm suggesting is that big councils like Launceston, like Hobart...that we would be entertaining that as a way forward," he said.
"People can opt-in for compulsory elections. We are seeing in Hobart low voter turn out, 50-odd per cent."
The Minister said much of the conference debate had focussed on whether Tasmania's 29 councils should consider merging.
While there was a lot of pressure on councils to amalgamate, he said the decision should not be rushed.
"I think however, that what we need to do is establish in our own minds quite clearly the role of local government and what it is our communities expect from local government going forward," he said.
"I think that's the debate we need to have before we go and start getting ourselves too worked up about other issues."
The transition to first year university has just got a whole lot easier for Victorian country students Kara Hazelman and Ella Bouman.
Kara and Ella are the winners of the inaugural Give Them Wings scholarships, offered by the Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria in partnership with Rural Health Workforce.
The scholarships, worth $2,500 each, are designed to encourage the next generation of nursing and allied health professionals from rural communities.
Kara, from Kyabram, is studying physiotherapy at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University. She intends to work in the country once she graduates, specialising in rehabilitation.
Ella is from Panmure, a small dairy community in south-west Victoria. She plans to combine nursing and farming after finishing her degree at Deakin University in Warrnambool.
The CEO of Rural Health Workforce, Greg Sam, said Kara and Ella symbolise the future of rural health.
“They are great role models for other country students considering a health career,” he said. “We need more people like them in order to meet the health needs of rural communities.”
As part of their Give Them Wings scholarships, Kara and Ella will each receive a Royal Flying Doctor experience as well as cash payments to help them cover the costs of first year university.
The Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce WA (AICC) is hosting a Local Government Sustainable Energy Infrastructure Study Tour in November 2012. The week-long program will encompass site visits to local government infrastructure and include attendance at the world leading Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy International Conference and Exhibition.
The program is supported by the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) and the SEA (Sustainable Energy Association). Whilst developed predominantly with a focus on the Western Australian Local Government sector, the program has broad relevance and application for local government nationally. Elected members and senior officers seeking exposure to new and emerging sustainable energy technology will benefit from this professional development opportunity.
To obtain more information please contact Andrew Blitz, Business Development Manager, WALGA, on firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com
ICLEI's FutureCityLeaders Initiative is looking for motivated and committed Mayors, Chairs of City Councils and Councillors who are keen to join a global network and capacity-building program to realise tangible local action for global sustainability.
ICLEI's FutureCityLeaders Initiative's mission is to empower future leaders by connecting them in a global network and further build their capacity on sustainability issues through knowledge-sharing, mentoring program, participation at international events and web-based training.
Last June, the first batch of FutureCityLeaders met at the ICLEI World Congress in Brazil and got the chance to interact with peers and sustainability experts worldwide!
Interested in being part of a global network and capacity-building program of motivated and committed Mayors, Chairs of City Councils and Councillors? Submit the Expression of Interest Form also available at the following website: www.iclei.org/futurecityleaders
The biennial National Housing Conference is considered the leading national housing meeting in Australia. It aims to provide a platform for sharing, debating and promoting ideas in housing research, policy and practice.
The theme for this year’s conference in Brisbane, People - Place - Productivity, will provide an opportunity to explore the essential connections between affordable housing and productivity, and its effect on people, place, community and the nation.
To view the diverse range of topics to be discussed, see the program overview.
To find out more, visit the conference website.
Security 2012 Exhibition caters for Government buyers with SCEC Approved products and services
Australasia’s leading security trade show features the latest products and services suitable for use in government facilities
Security 2012 Exhibition being held on the 25 - 27 July at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre will showcase the latest in Security Construction and Equipment Committee (SCEC) approved products from leading Australian and international manufacturers.
SCEC is a standing interdepartmental committee responsible for the evaluation of security equipment for use by Australian Government departments and agencies. SCEC reports to the Attorney General's Protective Security Policy Committee, which was established by the Australian Government to develop and establish guidelines for protection of Australian Government resource.
At Security 2012 Exhibition, government buyers will have the opportunity to view demonstrations from SCEC approved manufacturers; workshop and develop specific security solutions one-on-one; and explore and interact with a broad range of SCEC approved products.
Security 2012 Exhibition is Australia’s leading security event where public sector officials from all levels of government will be able to gain hands-on knowledge and training from industry experts.
To register for free entry to the Security 2012 Exhibition click here
“I am thrilled to have brokered this deal - at no cost to the taxpayer,” the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said.
The same contract that Lord Mayor Boris Johnson negotiated for the Tower Bridge can be used to upgrade to energy efficient streetlighting in Australia. The contract is called an Energy Performance Contract and its an excellent vehicle to use for cities to upgrade their public lighting, reducing energy costs, and beautifying the city using the energy savings to pay for the project.
The Citelum Group, international public lighting operator is in Australia to offer public lighting customers a choice in their public lighting operation. Citelum is here to compete with the traditional monopoly providers of public lighting the Electrical Distribution companies.
“We are based in Victoria as its the only State in Australia with a specific contestability policy on Design, Installation and Maintenance of Public Lighting and we are working through, educating customers, liaising with the MAV on how to bring the benefits of competition to their procurement activities,” said Adam Carey, Managing Director, “Every State is potentially contestable,” he added.
Citelum have expanded the energy performance contract to construct large scale 800kW solar power stations, deploying city-wide municipal wi-fi including the ability to remotely switch and dim each streetlight and beautify city landmarks. In most contracts, these projects are cost neutral to councils.
“Citelum wants customers to dream of the possibilities of what might be achieved when they are given the opportunity,” Adam said.
Contact Citelum Australia on 1300 CITELUM or firstname.lastname@example.org