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  • 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+

  • It’s commendable to see so many councils sharing what they do, such as this animation from Shoalhaven City Council (NSW) about the 40 beaches they manage, or this from Bathurst Council in central western NSW which highlighted a local theatre group. On Tuesday 6 August, join them and other councils to make #PartOfYourEveryday trend nationally+

  • Communities across Australia are either currently facing drought, tentatively recovering from it, or have been affected by it in the past. With climate change we are advised to expect more frequent and harsher droughts. Consequently the passing of the Future Drought Fund legislation through Parliament was important for local governments. The fund will be for+

  • Local councils are at the forefront of community efforts to tackle Australia’s worsening housing affordability and homelessness challenges. While people sleeping rough on the street in our capital cities is of course a problem, our communities in rural, regional and remote Australia are also responding to housing challenges including lack of affordable housing, or overcrowding.+

  • Water security and reliability is again in the national headlines following the ABC TV Four Corners report into the Murray Darling Basin, and the Federal Government decision to wind up the Drought Task Force and fold it into the Department of Agriculture. ALGA has expressed its concerns to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet+

  • This week I’ve been in Canberra, advocating on your behalf to some of the new ministers in the second Morrison Ministry. I appreciated being able to again see Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, the Hon. Mark Coulton MP, so soon after our National General Assembly for Local Government, which the Minister generously+

  • As the Australian economy continues to slow and the global outlook remains uncertain, local government is ready to step up and play its part with infrastructure projects. In recent weeks, the heads of both the Reserve Bank and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development have highlighted infrastructure investment as a way of+

  • Well, if the huge amount of feedback we received is any guide, what a fabulous National General Assembly we’ve just had! Thank you to the nearly 900 people who travelled to Canberra this week to join us for the Assembly, and the over 250 who attended the most popular and well-received Regional Cooperation and Development+

  • The Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Nationals, the Hon. Michael McCormack MP, the new Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Mark Coulton MP, and the new Shadow Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Jason Clare MP will all be joining us at the largest gathering of local government delegates in Australia in Canberra+

  • Last week on your behalf I welcomed the Morrison Ministry, particularly those ministers and assistant ministers in portfolios encompassing local government, road safety and freight, regional tourism, and waste reduction. This week it was the Opposition’s turn, now led by new Leader Anthony Albanese, to whom I have also written to extend the best wishes+

  • We welcome the new ministry unveiled last weekend by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The new team contains a strong focus on a range of issues facing local governments, including infrastructure, regional development, waste reduction, and road safety and freight. Congratulations firstly to the new Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton. The+

  • Congratulations to Prime Minister Morrison on his victory in the federal election and continuation as Prime Minister after a long campaign that culminated in the 18 May vote. The Prime Minister and the yet to be named incoming Minister for Local Government have the best wishes of councils across Australia as they resume the task+

  • This week ALGA welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s commitments under the Plan for Local Government issued by the Opposition in response to our Federal Election priorities document, All Politics is Local, which we issued last September. Our document identified 12 priorities including restoring funding assistance to local government, improving the safety of local roads, national+

  • The 2019 Federal Election is eight days away, and whilst so far it’s been a lacklustre campaign for local government, to date Labor’s policies are marginally ahead of the Coalition’s, except for local councils fortunate to be in marginal electorates where the results are more mixed. However neither of the major parties have met all+

  • A new National Class 1 Agricultural Notice which began on 1 May 2019 will benefit farmers who need to move combination agricultural equipment on public roads, after almost two-thirds of Australia’s local government areas agreed to the changes. The harmonisation will apply across designated roads in more than 270 local government areas, following about two+

  • Some 52% of all casualty crashes and 40% of all road deaths occur on local government roads. Around 1,200 people die in crashes on Australia’s roads each year, while 35,000 people are injured and all of us in Local Government have a responsibility to do what we can, as owners and managers of 75% of+

  • In the majority of towns and cities within Australia there are memorials to veterans that have not returned home. A growing problem, however, continues to be the integration into the community of those that have returned from active service and have been affected by that service, whether it be physically or psychologically. Organisations such as+

  • Last month the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Families and Social Services, and the Hon Sarah Henderson MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services issued a media release announcing that from April, the Australian community can take part in national consultations to shape the future of Australia’s disability policy for beyond+

  • My column this week comes at a time of reflection for us as individuals and as community service providers. Today marks the end of a week which has included Easter and Anzac Day, events of great religious and national significance which have been celebrated and commemorated in local communities right across Australia. Councils and elected+

  • Don’t miss the early bird registration discount for this year’s National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA), which will be held from 16 to 19 June in Canberra. Early bird registrations are set to close on 10 May. The theme for this year’s NGA is Future Focused, reflecting that change is constant – and we+

  • The upgrade of 1860 payphones across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide are causing Councils concerns. In March the City of Melbourne refused 81 development applications by JCDecaux to upgrade Telstra payphones including new 75 inch (190cm) digital advertising screens that will display commercial advertising. Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Planning portfolio Councillor Nicholas Reece+

  • This week, ALGA News is coming to you a day earlier than usual because of the Easter break and I expect that many Australians will be taking the opportunity for an extended break over the Easter/Anzac Day period. This period also coincides with school holidays in the majority of states and territories and so people+

  • The Australian Local Government Association and your state/territory local government association have made it simple for your council to participate in the national advocacy campaign to get fairer funding for local government and our communities. http://fairershare.com.au/ We have designed a staged advocacy program that will ensure that our message is heard and understood and lead+

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Government House early yesterday morning to ask Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove to trigger an election to be held on 18 May 2019. The 45th Parliament was suspended and Parliament dissolved. This cancelled the Senate Estimates hearings that were due to commence at 9am. The 2019 election will see all MPs+

  • The Federal Election and our call to action is now upon us. To assist, the ALGA Board has authorised campaign materials for your immediate use to help you win a Fairer Share for your local community. ALGA has worked with state and territory local government associations to develop materials for use by every council in+

  • Last night the Federal Labor Opposition Leader, the Hon Bill Shorten MP delivered his Party’s Budget reply to Parliament. Further details are expected to be released during the election campaign but some of the issues in the Budget Reply of interest to local government include: Larger taxation cuts to lower income workers; Transport plans and+

  • Tuesday’s Budget announced the establishment of a new $3.9B Emergency Response Fund. The Fund will be established through legislation as a Commonwealth Investment Fund, and will allocate up to $150M per annum for natural disaster recovery and response initiatives above and beyond existing funding for severe and catastrophic disasters. The additional funding will not interfere+

  • This week’s Federal Budget includes an increase in next year’s base funding for the Roads to Recovery program from $400m per annum to $500m per annum from 2019-20, and also sees increases in the annual funding for the Roads Safety Federal Blackspots and the Bridges Renewal programs of $50m and $25m respectively. Regional Airports also+