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  • Time’s running out for councils to draft motions and submit them for the 2020 National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra. The deadline is 11:59pm AEST Friday 27 March, meaning many councils may have only two monthly meetings in which to discuss and debate any motion. Held each June, the National General Assembly of+

  • Support including money, people with skills and resources, information and equipment continues to be expanded into bushfire affected communities across the country. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 15 January announced funding for additional mental health support and for “community recovery hubs” which provide much needed well being recovery services and programs including mobile hubs to+

  • The worst of the bush fires across the country may be over, at least in the short term, but the recovery and reconstruction is just getting started. Ordinary people from Australia and around the world have donated tens of millions of dollars, there’s an initial $2 billion from the Australian Government, and defence force personnel+

  • The Commonwealth’s initial $60m for immediate assistance to 42 Local Government Areas hit by bushfires is welcome money that lets local councils continue working with their communities to get back on their feet, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said on 9 January. The funding package is based on one in place after the 2019 Queensland+

  • From running evacuation centres to firefighting, to driving machinery, fundraising, or distributing goods, local councils and local government associations from across the country are leading efforts to help bushfire-hit communities. Here’s an overview of what’s been happening around Australia in recent weeks: In New South Wales, general managers of six fire-affected councils on 3 January+

  • Welcome to 2020. I want to express my condolences to people who have lost their loved ones, homes, businesses and animals in the terrible bush fires affecting large parts of Australia in recent weeks and months. The sheer scale of the fires and their destruction has been shocking, and many blazes continue to burn. But+

  • It’s almost the end of the year, and with it the chance for most of us to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Those of us fortunate to be having a break over Christmas and the New Year are thinking of farmers and communities struggling amid the ongoing drought, and also of firefighters across+

  • Local Government is not required to report on supply chains as part of the Modern Slavery Act, but large local councils are welcome to consider voluntarily complying, the Australian Government has said. The Modern Slavery Act 2018, which aims to tackle slavery in global supply chains, applies to all entities – Australian and foreign entities+

  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released the Commonwealth’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) on Monday, an update of Australia’s economic and fiscal outlook from the previous budget. The MYEFO also takes account of all decisions made since the release of the budget which can affect expenses and revenue and hence require revision of the budget position.+

  • The City of Sydney is urging all three levels of government and businesses to join its effort to reduce the environmental consequences of travelling by preferencing accommodation providers that have a third-party performance rating. NABERS ratings are currently voluntary for hotels, meaning that government and corporate procurement will be essential to increase the number of+

  • Road safety is a hot button issue at this time of year,  and on Tuesday I participated in the Deputy Prime Minister’s roundtable on Local Government and road safety, convened in Brisbane and also attended by the Assistant Minister for Road Safety, Scott Buchholz.  There were around 30 participants invited including the LGAQ, elected representatives+

  • Fifty five Victorian local councils are working on an Electric Vehicle charging stations network to get the necessary public infrastructure in place so local communities can benefit from an expected increase in zero-emissions vehicles as the models become cheaper and more available. Charging the Regions, led by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, has examined optimal+

  • Tiny houses are one way to help address Australia’s affordable housing shortage and alleviate homelessness, but their potential has been hindered by a lack of a coherent regulatory and policy framework and variable community support, a new paper says. The paper by Liz de Chastel, a Senior Policy Officer with the Australian Local Government Association,+

  • The Morrison Government says merging the Department of Communications and the Arts into the current Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development will result in improved communications and regional services for people outside metropolitan areas. The public service restructure will trim the number of departments to 14 from 18, while 10 departments will be+

  • This week I’d like to update you on my meetings with Ministers in Parliament House, a day that proved how the last sitting week of the year is an intense and busy time. I had a fruitful discussion with Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, about a range of matters,+

  • Around 230 people – some from as far away as northern Western Australia, Arnhem Land and Hobart – gathered at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills to hear the latest from Australia’s best in automation, electric trucks, road construction, road funding, safety and transportation technologies. It was terrific to hear insights from our guest speakers, great+

  • A new discussion paper from the Australian Local Government Association  welcomes motions for the next National General Assembly (NGA) of Local Government, which will be held in Canberra from 14-17 June 2020. Motions can be submitted between 18 November 2019 and 27 March 2020, and must address the NGA’s theme of “working together for our+

  • Councils in drought-affected areas are encouraged to apply for the $200m fourth round of the Commonwealth’s Building Better Regions Fund (BRRF), which opened on 14 November and closes on 19 December. There is money for both infrastructure projects and also grants for community investments, and all drought-hit councils can apply, not just the 128  eligible+

  • This week has been National Recycling Week, a chance for councils across Australia to highlight the major role local government plays in dealing with the country’s waste challenges and opportunities. Some held tours of waste transfer and recycling facilities, or promoted the range of recycling services they offer, or will be introducing, or explained the+

  • The Australian Local Government Association’s recent advocacy on local councils’ behalf has included submissions to Infrastructure Australia and a parliamentary inquiry into 5G technology. Infrastructure Australia, a Commonwealth agency, is working on its 2021 Australian Infrastructure plan and has sought public comment about its 2019 Infrastructure Audit. ALGA backs the notion of a more robust+

  • There are just 10 days left until we welcome delegates to the 2019 National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hahndorf in my home state of South Australia. Around 250 people from around Australia will join us for three days of discussions about the latest developments and trends involving local roads and bridges, traffic management+

  • Better tracking of vehicle fleets and applying the latest developments in road research can help local councils to both improve their governance and also prepare for impending changes in mobility, such as by autonomous vehicles. That’s the message two experts will share at the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hahndorf 18-20 November. Lou+

  • The Australian Local Government Association’s advocacy for a fairer share of Financial Assistance Grants has inspired a council in rural South Australia to publicly thank their local federal Member of Parliament for $500,000 worth of funding in 2019/20. Kingston District Council wrote to Tony Pasin MP after reading President David O’Loughlin’s September 6 column urging+

  • Local Government will have a role to play in the development of an Indigenous voice to the Government, following moves this week by the federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Ken Wyatt. Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was released in 2017, Indigenous Australians have called for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.+

  • This week, on your behalf, I was in Canberra for more meetings with Commonwealth Ministers about drought relief, grants, population and settlement, recycling and disaster mitigation. I thanked Mark Coulton, the Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, for the Commonwealth’s earlier round of drought relief, which local councils welcomed, and stressed the need+

  • How does a council respond when its roads funding budget is halved because of austerity measured imposed by a national government? Matthew Lugg OBE will explain what happened next when the United Kingdom-based expert speaks at the 2019 National Local Roads and Transport Congress which runs 18-20 November. “It is a great honour to be+

  • Advocacy by the Australian Local Government Association and others has resulted in Labor and the Coalition agreeing to lift the Commonwealth’s proposed Emergency Response Fund to $200 million a year from $150m, with the extra funding dedicated to mitigation. ALGA’s consistent advocacy over several years on the need for targeted mitigation funding included a submission+

  • This week I want to discuss poverty and drought, and the vital role Local Government plays in trying to reduce both. Local Government could say that scourges like poverty and drought are caused by external factors, for others to deal with, but should we? Anti-Poverty Week, which concludes tomorrow, is an annual assessment of the+

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate  states sea level is rising at an increasing rate, alongside ocean warming and acidification, which will increase risks for low-lying coastal communities and biodiversity. Extreme ocean levels which historically would occur on average once in a+

  • The rise of drones is changing the way assets are managed and goods moved over short distances. The implications of drones for councils will be examined at the National Local Roads and Transport Congress on 19 November in a session involving experts from various sides of this emerging transport sector. “Drones can collect better data+

  • The annual Stay Smart Online Week draws to a close tomorrow, and this is an opportunity for councils to take stock of their online security measures, and also consider the menace of cyber bullying of councillors and staff. The Commonwealth Government says almost one in three Australian adults fell victim to a cybercrime in 2018,+

  • The water industry has called for a revised National Water Initiative which focuses on urban water and recognises the challenges of climate change, the ongoing drought, and meeting the water security needs of Australia’s growing population. The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) Urban Water Update 2019: Drought, Growth and Liveability said as the constraints+

  • The Australian Local Government Association has told a Senate inquiry that new legislation to create a natural disasters emergency response fund ought to focus on mitigation measures before a calamity occurs, rather than only on recovery efforts. The Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee is examining the Emergency Response Fund Bill 2019 and Emergency Response Fund+

  • This edition I want to highlight how local councils around Australia proudly invest in their local communities’ art and cultural sectors. You only need to look at a council’s homepage or its social media presence to see how much we celebrate our artists, festivals and other cultural activities that help define our communities. These activities+

  • The fifth generation of mobile technology, which works alongside 4G infrastructure, will take a decade to deploy and its challenges for carriers will mean a bigger digital divide between city and rural communities, technology consultants have said. Given previous experiences, it’s unlikely Australia’s telecommunications companies will agree to share fixtures as they roll out 5G+

  • Some councils want to better engage with Australia’s circular economy to save them money and ease pressures on their material collection services. This is particularly the case with old rubber tyres, some 56 million of which are discarded in Australia every year. Steering some of those tyres away from landfill and into road resurfacing will+

  • There have been many issues affecting regional and rural Australia on which ALGA has been advocating in recent months – jobs, visas and drought assistance. Some three quarters of Australia’s local governments are in rural, remote or regional areas of Australia, with many local governments actively trying to attract and retain workers and residents in+

  • This week I want to give thanks to the many councils and communities across Australia who have rallied in difficult circumstances in the face of weather extremes. The continuing drought across much of the eastern seaboard has been compounded by dozens of bush fires across northern NSW and southern Queensland during the first few weeks+

  • A handbook that outlines the responsibilities of all three levels of government during emergencies and disasters has been updated to help authorities in their preparations for future incidents. Produced by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, the free Australian Emergency Management Arrangements Handbook was guided by a working group, which included the Australian Local Government+

  • Local Government contributes more than a quarter of total national expenditure on Australian arts and cultural activities, a new study has found. Demonstrating the increased importance of art and culture to local communities, the 26.2 percent local government proportion was up from 22.4 percent a decade earlier, The Big Picture report said. Each year Australian+

  • It’s just over nine weeks until our National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hahndorf in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, only half an hour from downtown Adelaide. Registrations are already up on last year, indicating the joint metro and regional focus is hitting the mark. If you haven’t already registered, I encourage you to do+

  • The Australian Medical Association says climate change is a health emergency which if not addressed will cause more injuries and deaths from heat stress, severe weather conditions and mosquito-borne diseases, as well as food insecurity due to declining farming production. Similar to declarations passed by dozens of local councils – most recently the City of+

  • West Australian councils have backed an “aspiration” by the State Government to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, saying rapid action is needed because climate change’s consequences, including longer fire seasons, are already happening. The announcement by State Minister for Energy, Bill Johnston, means WA becomes the final state to set a zero+

  • Each year the Federal Government provides billions of dollars to councils across Australia to help them deliver services and infrastructure for their local communities, and by far the largest amount is provided under the Financial Assistance Grants program (FAGs). ALGA’s Fairer Share campaign is aimed at ensuring councils receive a fairer share of federal funding+

  • A new site has for the first time brought together millions of data sets to provide a wide-ranging picture of the state of housing in Australia, from financing for a mortgage through to population changes and homelessness. The Housing Data Dashboard as developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Commonwealth+

  • The Australian Government has published a new biosecurity web site aimed at helping the general public, councils, businesses and individuals better understand how to identify and respond to biosecurity threats. The site has been developed by the National Biosecurity Committee, to which the Australian Local Government Association is an observer, and follows an agreement by+

  • I was pleased to participate in a memorable second meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap last week in Adelaide. There can be few more pressing tasks than reducing the differences in life span, health, housing and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – and local government has a key role to play.+

  • This week’s 4 Corners investigation, ‘Cracking Up’, shone a national spotlight on shoddy apartments and building certifications across Australia. We saw problems with buildings such as Opal Tower and Mascot Towers in Sydney with cracked walls and foundations and forced residents to flee, while frustrated owners showed their leaking apartments in Canberra and Melbourne. I+

  • A new bicycle path in Perth’s northern suburbs that separates cyclists from cars in some sections and aims to get more residents cycling through major centres has taken out the road safety excellence category at the National Awards for Local Government. City of Stirling – which also received the overall National Award for Excellence for+

  • A draft report by New Zealand’s Productivity Commission on Local Government financing and funding has recommended the NZ government offer councils more support for climate change adaptation measures, and also help with legal guidance and consistent science, standards and data. New Zealand has two levels of government: the federal or central government, and local government.+

  • After over a year of calling for national leadership and months of arguing at various ministerial councils on your behalf, ALGA achieved a major breakthrough at COAG last Friday with Prime Minister Morrison and all First Ministers agreeing to join us in the fight against waste, to boost recycling, and to do it onshore. The+

  • Last week on your behalf I attended the meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council in Adelaide, at which a major focus was road safety. Road safety is a vital issue for local government, as we are the owners and managers of over 75% of Australia’s roads by length. Some 52% of all casualty crashes+