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  • The Federal Government will invest $1.67 billion over 10 years to bolster government, community, and business defences against cyber-attacks. Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says well-equipped and persistent state-sponsored actors are targeting critical infrastructure and stealing Australian intellectual property. In a foreword to the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020 published last week, Mr Dutton+

  • If plastics were radioactive we would pay more attention to their half-lives. Even the CSIRO have set an ambitious new mission to “end plastic waste”. If only it wasn’t such a useful material! Plastic has transformed everyday life, being easy to manufacture, durable, strong for its weight, and resistant to shock, corrosion, chemicals, and water.+

  • Over 116,000 Australians – more than the population of the city of Ballarat – were estimated to be homeless on Census night in 2016. Can Local Government help? That figure is almost certainly higher now, with key drivers of homelessness like unemployment and domestic violence having spiked dramatically during the Covid-19 pandemic. With stage four+

  • Born in Wales, Sharon Tapscott emigrated to Australia with her family and grew in the shadow of the Dandenong Ranges, not far from Melbourne. She moved to Merimbula in NSW with her husband in 1985, where they ran a series of small businesses. She became active in local politics during a campaign to save the+

  • All jurisdictions should work with local government and industry to take Australia to the next level of building climate and disaster resilience, the CSIRO says. This work needs to concentrate on harmonising data governance and the sharing of common technologies so data and information (including a national risk map) can be produced, analysed, and exchanged+

  • A new plastic recycling plant will be built near Albury in what is likely to be a major boost to the development of a circular economy in Australia. Multinational company Asahi Beverages, packaging company Pact Group, and Cleanaway Waste Management confirmed this week they would build the $45 million plant at an industrial estate 10km+

  • It is a rare privilege to have signed such an important agreement on your behalf. The new Closing the Gap partnership, signed by the Commonwealth, the states and territories, and the Australian Local Government Association on Monday, has been hailed as a new chapter in the national effort to reduce Indigenous disadvantage. It sets new+

  • Greg Christensen was elected to the Scenic Rim Regional Council as Mayor in 2016 and successfully re-contested the 2020 election for a second term.  With a professional background in human resources and business improvement, along with a varied career with companies like CSR, Holden, and OneSteel, Cr Christensen is presently the executive officer of Step+

  • A nationwide “single-touch” environmental approvals process will be introduced after a National Cabinet meeting last week agreed to legislative changes. The changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act would see new national standards enacted and the state and territories accredited to carry out environmental assessments and approvals on the Commonwealth’s behalf. Legislation for+

  • A new national agreement to redress entrenched inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians came into effect this week. The latest Closing the Gap agreement sets 16 new national socio-economic targets in areas including life expectancy, birthweight, early childhood education and development, Year 12 and tertiary qualifications, employment, incarceration rates, household safety, and the proportion of+

  • Robert Mustow was born in Casino in northern NSW, and has lived in the Richmond Valley his entire life. After finishing high school, he became a qualified panel beater and successfully operated his own smash repair business for 15 years. With a long-running passion for local sport, especially basketball, he was then employed by Basketball+

  • An expert panel has backed Senate calls for a White Paper supporting a strategic approach to development in regional Australia. It has also recommended the Commonwealth reform its approach to regional development funding and “substantially increase” funding to Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committees. The panel was convened by the Federal Government after it agreed to+

  • A federal environmental protection law review has suggested a greater assessment and approvals role for the states and territories. In an interim report into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act published this week, Professor Graeme Samuel says delays caused by the complexity of current processes could be reduced if the Commonwealth devolved more decision-making powers+

  • Coastal councils are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place when it comes to rising sea levels and storm-related coastal erosion. We saw it demonstrated again this week when the Central Coast Council – under fire from residents whose beachfront properties had been destroyed or damaged by a severe storm the previous week+

  • In the first of an occasional series on the elected leaders of Australia 537 councils, Kangaroo Island Council Mayor Micheal Pengilly answers questions about various aspects of his work and that of the council’s. Councillor Pengilly was born and raised on Kangaroo Island, and he continues to farm a property with his wife on the+

  • State and Territory governments say they oppose the Commonwealth being referred additional powers to deal with or respond to natural disasters. The near unanimous view emerged in submissions to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements made public last week. In its inquiry submission, the WA Government said: “The concept of a ‘national natural+

  • An Australian Airports Association survey has revealed that 24 regional airports, most owned by councils, are owed $10 million in unpaid fees. The survey of 34 members of AAA also showed that 10 large and capital city airports were owed $7 million. AAA chief executive James Goodwin said that while airlines had received significant financial+

  • Place-based deals have been making headlines these past weeks, all of them positive, all of them reinforcing the key role Local Government plays in shaping our economy. The mayors of Albury and Wodonga have signed a statement of intent to develop a Regional Deal based around the two Murray River cities, and new annual reports+

  • The war on waste is proving to be a protracted affair, like any war, but this week’s announcement of $190 million in Commonwealth funding to create a new Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) is significant in several ways. Besides tipping $190 million into the RMF, the Federal Government is providing $35 million to implement the National+

  • The Commonwealth is investing $190 million to ramp up Australia’s waste processing capacity ahead of bans on exports of unprocessed waste. The money will go to a newly established Recycling Modernisation Fund to finance new infrastructure spending in sorting, processing, and reusing plastic, paper, glass, and tyres. Funding from the RMF will be contingent on+

  • The Australian Local Government Association’s annual National Local Roads and Transport Congress has been expanded in 2020 to encompass natural disaster impacts, recovery and resilience, and Covid-19. With few opportunities left in 2020 for the Local Government sector to connect on a national level, the Special Recovery Conference will focus on the issues that have+

  • Are journalists about to return to country council chambers? The Federal Government has thrown the regional media a much needed lifeline – and there was more good news for the sector this week. Further details of the $50 million package to support public interest journalism were announced and the sale of Australian Associated Press (AAP)+

  • Around 80 NSW local councils will receive a share of $382 million in NSW and Federal Government funding to upgrade regional roads, it was announced this week. The money will flow from NSW Government’s Fixing Local Roads Program, to which the Commonwealth and State Governments have both committed $191 million. The two governments have also+

  • The NSW Government should replace transfer duty with a broad-based land tax and work with the other states on a national road user charging scheme for electric vehicles. The recommendations stem from the Review of Federal Financial Relations set up by NSW Treasury  in 2019 to examine how the states and the Commonwealth can work+

  • The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is partnering with the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) to address the country’s $30 billion national local government infrastructure backlog. The two organisations will work together – and with local councils around the country – to produce the “National State of the Assets” (NSoA) report providing detailed+

  • Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has long called for a $200 million Commonwealth Disaster Mitigation Fund to be established, the same amount nominated by the Australian Productivity Commission in its most recent advice on disaster mitigation. “Not only is the Federal Government’s current commitment of only $26.1 million a year clearly inadequate in this light,+

  • “What’s the drift, tell me what’s a’happening!” Regional population growth is more than a song line, it’s actually happening. Demographers, commentators, and economic forecasters are suggesting that arresting the drift to big cities and achieving sustained growth in the regions is not just attainable but perhaps even inevitable. The evidence seems to back them up.+

  • The Brisbane City Council has been allocated $11.7 million under the Federal Government’s $500 million Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. Other sizeable allocations have been made to the City of Gold Coast ($5.9 million), Moreton Bay Regional Council ($5 million), Toowoomba Regional Council ($4.1 million) Logan City Council ($3.5 million), Mid-Coast Council ($3.4 million),+

  • The Federal Government supports more money for the Black Spot Program and an increase in funding for projects in regional and remote areas. However, it remains detached about revising the definition of “black spot” to account for the dispersed nature of accidents in remote and regional areas, saying the program is sufficiently flexible to fund+

  • Is Local Government going to be part of the solution, or part of the problem, as the Commonwealth responds to a looming budget blowout and the nation’s first recession in 29 years? As councils step up to create new jobs in parallel with minimising rate rises (a tough ask) are we to be assisted by+

  • South Australian Local Government Minister Stephan Knoll will be able to limit council rate increases under new legislation introduced into State Parliament this week. The Statutes Amendment (Local Government Review) Bill will give the Minister the power to direct a council to cap its rates if “independent advice” deems they should be capped. A rate-monitoring+

  • Better public understanding of 5G is needed if the new technology is to deliver on its promise of a “generational leap” in connectivity and innovation, a Federal Parliamentary report says. The report into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G  mobile technology – begun by the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Communications and the+

  • Two weeks have passed since news broke of the most far-reaching federation governance reform in nearly 30 years: the abolition of COAG in favour of a broadening of the Covid-19 National Cabinet initiative. Local Government’s shock exclusion from National Cabinet was, we said at the time, a missed opportunity to add impetus to the economic+

  • A national project to help local government road managers assess bridges, culverts and other assets on key local roads will begin shortly. Run by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator with $7.96 million in Commonwealth funding, the project is the pilot phase of the Strategic Local Government Asset Assessment Project (SLGAAP) announced in 2019. It is+

  • Changes need to be made to limit confusion over disaster recovery payments, the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has heard. A “no wrong door” approach and a one-stop shop principles would help deliver relief quickly to victims, National Bushfire Recovery Agency coordinator Andrew Colvin said. “It would be ideal that a victim of+

  • Remember our “last” road safety crisis – 1200 road deaths a year and flatlining?  And serious injuries (hospital admissions) approaching 40,000 a year and rising, not falling, despite 10 years of road safety effort and billions of dollars spent on road maintenance and upgrades. And before we point the finger at other governments, 30 percent+

  • Failure to include the Australian Local Government Association in the National Cabinet is a lost opportunity to drive jobs growth and economic reform at the local level, President David O’Loughlin said last week. His comments followed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement on 31 May that the Council of Australian Governments had been abolished and replaced+

  • Local Government’s “remarkable capacity to deliver in times of disaster and other events” has been stretched by drought, flood, fire and Covid-19, Federal Parliament heard this week. Major-General Andrew Hocking, the deputy coordinator of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, told the Parliamentary Inquiry into Regional Australia that “in terms of manpower in local councils, horsepower+

  • The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) says planned national federation reforms announced today are a lost opportunity to drive jobs growth and economic reform at the local level. “The National Cabinet is continuing with a broader remit than the health response for which it was first established, and ALGA, as the national voice of Local+

  • National Cabinet has proven useful in tackling Covid-19 head on, and it could expand to take on job creation, population and infrastructure planning, freight productivity, recreation and sport, culture and arts, social cohesion, aged care, childcare, ending domestic violence – and many more areas where local government plays a key role and therefore must be+

  • Museums, galleries, and libraries will be allowed to reopen from 1 June 2020 after the NSW Government said it would begin easing Covid-19 restrictions. NSW Health will provide guidance to ensure the museums, galleries and libraries operate in a Covid-19 safe way, including: exclusion of staff and visitors who are unwell; limiting the number of+

  • Council-run childcare centres are racking up big financial losses in their struggle to stay open without access to the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program. The City of Whitehorse Council has had to shut two of its four childcare centres in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and is forecasting a $650,000 loss for the current quarter. Thirty-one staff at+

  • This morning’s announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Local Government Minister Mark Coulton that local government will receive a $500 million economic stimulus package is tremendous news for councils, their elected officials and hard-working staff, and the communities they serve right around the country. The package recognises what we have been saying throughout+

  • A new $500 million federal government program will be established to allow councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects across the nation. The Local Road and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program is one of two components of a $1.8 billion local government stimulus package announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. The+

  • Queensland communities will get new or upgraded pools, playgrounds, caravan parks and other facilities under a $200 million local government jobs support program announced this week. Water and sewerage infrastructure and waste management facilities are also in line for extra state government funding to help Queensland’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Announcing the Covid Works+

  • ALGA’s firm advocacy both behind the scenes and via the media has ensured bushfire-affected local governments have not been forgotten and will be able to access the Federal Government’s next tranche of money ($650 million) under its $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, with $448.5 million of this earmarked for the quick delivery of projects+

  • The Federal Government has announced a $650 million support package to aid economic recovery after the 2019-20 bushfires, with $448.5 million earmarked for local projects. The package – the next tranche of the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund set up in January – will also see $149.7 million directed to projects to protect native+

  • Rural and regional airport operators will be spared from paying for tougher security screening measures after Federal MPs intervened to change new cost-recovery arrangements. The Federal Government has proposed airports install body and baggage scanners, with the councils that manage the regional airports to pick up the annual operating bills. On Wednesday, Centre Alliance Senator+

  • Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Local Government Minister Mark Coulton’s presence at today’s video-linked ALGA board forum emphasised what is shaping as a watershed moment for Australia. Amid moves to restart the economy – a process in which local government’s role will be pivotal – the Deputy Prime Minister emphasised the importance of improving+

  • Local Government Areas hit by the 2019-20 bushfires and Covid-19 restrictions may experience GDP declines of up to 23 per cent, a new report suggests. SGS Economics and Planning said one of hardest hit of all bushfire-affected LGAs is East Gippsland where GDP for 2019-20 is set to decline by $1.466 billion (or 22.6 per+

  • The National Cabinet has endorsed principles paving the way for the staged resumption of sport and recreational activities after coronavirus restrictions are eased. The “National Principles for the Resumption of Sport and Recreation Activities” were developed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)  and are intended to guide the staged return of outdoor activities+

  • I wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last Thursday urging him to consider a local government stimulus measure in the form of a one-off grant equivalent to two quarters of the annual $2.6 billion Financial Assistance Grant funding stream. ALGA’s approach was motivated by the undeniable fact that local communities around Australia are hurting and+