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  • The NSW Government has announced a $395 million economic stimulus package to maintain essential local services and infrastructure and keep people in council jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic. The centrepiece of the support package is an allocation of $112.5 million from the state government’s “Jobs for NSW” fund to support a Council Job Retention Allowance+

  • A new Tasmanian Local Government Act has moved a step closer after the State Government released the results of two years of consultation with councils and other stakeholders last week. Local Government Minister Mark Shelton said feedback indicated three of the 51 reform proposals for the legislative framework review were strongly opposed “and accordingly will+

  • Regional Express (REX) delivered an ultimatum to South Australian regional councils last week: reduce your airport fees for five years or we’ll cease all flights, permanently – and you’ve got four days to call a special meeting and agree. Anyone familiar with REX’s past dealings with Local Government would not have been surprised by last+

  • Days after demanding South Australian regional councils support it through the Covid-19 pandemic or risk losing their air links, Regional Express (REX) has obtained federal funding to continue servicing its network destinations. In recent weeks, REX has cut services drastically even as it has sought state and federal government financial support. On 13 April ,+

  • The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) wants state government support for a Covid-19 plan by councils to create jobs, stimulate local economies, and provide ratepayer relief. The $608 million plan includes a new capital works program, funding for a 3000-strong “green army” to protect and improve the environment for the tourism and agricultural industries,+

  • An unexpected victim of the Covid-19 pandemic, local media, has been crippled in both metro and country locations, with many mastheads suspending printing and standing down staff in the wake of collapsing advertising revenues as businesses cut non-essential expenditure or simply stop trading. The electronic media – free-to-air television and radio – is also under+

  • About 80 per cent of NSW’s 128 local councils have signed a workplace deal allowing workers stood down due to Covid-19 service closures to access a job retention allowance of $858.20 a week for up to three months. Under the Local Government (Covid-19) Splinter Award 2020, affected Local Government employees can supplement that allowance from+

  • A range of exemptions to local planning requirements have been announced under new state of emergency powers in Western Australia. Amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 came into effect earlier this month, and give the Minister for Planning, Rita Saffioti, authority to temporarily override requirements and conditions set out in+

  • A special videoconference of the ALGA board today reflected on how Local Government is stepping up and reinventing itself to play a key role throughout the Covid-19 crisis and beyond, despite facility lockdowns, revenue losses, imminent rate relief impacts and external calls for more spending and higher debt servicing. Three main principals emerged from the+

  • Council-run childcare or early education centres ineligible for JobKeeper payments may be eligible for exceptional circumstances supplementary payments under the federal government’s Early Childhood Education and Care Relief package. The Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment (supplementary payment) is available for providers/services who need a “top up” on the Early Childhood Education and Care Package payment (base+

  • The Department of Home Affairs will begin conducting online citizenship ceremonies in place of the traditional ceremonies that have been impacted by Covid-19 health and social distancing restrictions. Home Affairs began trialing ceremonies over secure video link at the end of March. When fully implemented, the online citizenship service will be able to confer citizenship+

  • Local Governments across the nation are stepping up to the Covid-19 task, but the calls for rate relief, rates freezes, facility closures and plummeting parking and user charges revenue, combined with apparent lack of assistance from JobKeeper, Child Care packages or any other source is tough going for most councils. A string of extraordinary Covid-19+

  • The Tasmanian state government has extended the Local Government Loan Scheme from $50 million to $150 million to o ensure a steady supply of “screw-driver and paint-brush ready projects” during the Covid-19 crisis. The measure was one of several contained in a social and economic support package announced by Premier Peter Gutwein on 26 March.+

  • The target for the average recycled content in all packaging will increase from 30 per cent to 50 per cent under a new strategic framework launched this week setting out how Australia will achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets. “Out Packaging Future” the report underpinning the new framework was launched by the Australian Packaging Covenant+

  • ALGA is aware that councils are now developing their budget processes for 2020-21 and one of the issues which has arisen is the need for certainty around their Financial Assistance Grant allocations for 2020-21, especially in light of the Government’s announcement that the 2020-21 Budget will be delayed until October.  The Government’s Financial Assistance Grants+

  • A number of Councils have announced support packages to assist residents, business, sporting and community groups address the social, cultural and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some measures taken by Gladstone Regional Council include rent concessions for Council-leased commercial facilities, freezing of interest on outstanding rates and charges and financial support for sporting and+

  • Closures, restrictions, working from home, rate relief, landing fees relief, service cuts, hardship policies, delivery curfews, public health inspections, and even delays to the Federal Budget and questions over FAGs funding – how quickly our world has changed. Yet our communities’ need for help has rarely been higher, nor has the lack of certainty. The+

  • Unfortunately the 2020 National General Assembly (NGA) will not go ahead in June 2020. The ALGA Board has made this difficult decision in light of the Government’s decision to ban non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people at indoor venues as part of its efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. The Prime Minister has+

  • On Wednesday 18th March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced restrictions being put in place to address the spread of coronavirus in Australia. He stressed this is not a two-week solution it is most likely to be six months. “Life is changing in Australia, as it is changing all around the world. Life is going to+

  • Droughts, bushfires and now a global virus – the need for strong and stable Local Government has never been greater for our communities. The Prime Minister’s recent announcements dramatically underline that Governments at all levels must step up to keep the nation healthy, our businesses solvent and people in jobs. Councils are the most connected+

  • A new report produced by the Climate Council has looked at the devastating climate impacts Australians experienced this summer. The bushfire season started in winter and was the worst on record for New South Wales in terms of its intensity, the area burned, and the number of properties lost. It was also the worst season+

  • The Federal Government has announced the 147 projects that will be funded in NSW under the 2020-21 round of the Black Spots Program. The Government has committed $1 billion to the Black Spot Program from 2013-14 to 2022-23 to improve road safety across the nation. “By specifically targeting road locations with a history of crashes+

  • Today I’m attending COAG where the Prime Minister, First Ministers and I, on behalf of our sector, will discuss the issues currently impacting our country. These include bushfire relief, drought, violence against women, mental health, the proposed waste export ban, and the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Bushfire relief has been slow, despite best efforts of governments.+

  • Now in its 27th year, the Community Heritage Grants (CHG) program provides grants of up to $15,000 to community groups to help preserve and manage locally held but nationally-significant cultural heritage collections. Since the program began in 1994, more than $7.26 million has been allocated to 1,445 collection preservation and management projects around the country,+

  • Time is running out for councils to have their say on life in regional Australia. The House of Representatives Select Committee on Regional Australia is looking at the contribution regional Australia makes to the nation’s identity, economy and environment. The committee is also examining the effectiveness of existing programs to develop and promote regional centres,+

  • What needs to change, across government and industry, to curb the roughly 1.4 million tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres that we export every year? With the waste export ban drawing nearer – in less than six months for glass and just over a year for mixed plastics – we need practical solutions+

  • While Victoria’s recycling system is set to change following an announcement this week by the Andrews State Government, Local Government New South Wales has warned that Australia’s most populous state risks having more of its waste sent to landfill. Recycling Victoria is a $300m, 10-year plan to create a circular economy through measures including a+

  • 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.+

  • 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+

  • Last week the MAV presented as a witness to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in Adelaide, which provided the opportunity to reinforce our sector’s national position on the future reform of community aged care. The fifty-minute evidence covered key aspects of the MAV’s written submission which included contributions from the ALGA,+

  • ALGA has been in discussion with the National Rural Health Alliance regarding opportunities for shared advocacy, research and partnerships on rural health and community wellbeing particularly related to access to health services. Access to health services is critical for attracting and retaining people in our rural and remote communities. ALGA is pleased to see that+

  • We have now had two weeks to process the awful events in Christchurch and to reflect on the lessons beginning to emerge, including the importance of social cohesion, both in reducing the risks of community discord and division and in helping to strengthen the resilience of communities in facing traumatic events. The outpouring of offers+

  • The 2019 NGA is fast approaching! With the NGA just around the corner, do not forget to submit your motions by 29 March to ensure your council has the opportunity to influence the national policy agenda. Resolutions passed at the 2018 NGA were progressed by the ALGA secretariat with the most appropriate federal ministers. Formal+

  • One of ALGA’s election priorities is to foster indigenous well-being and prosperity. Key to this is closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Only modest progress has been achieved, with only one target met, and Indigenous Australians remain well behind on a range of indicators. Stable, safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to reaching+

  • The Australian Local Government Associations Federal Election Initiatives included support for communities on their digital transformation journeys. This week has seen the Minister for Regional Services and Deputy Leader of the Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie announce a number of initiatives to improve mobile coverage. The first announcement included commitment to delivering 180 new base stations+

  • Local Government Workforce challenges revealed One of local government’s most valuable assets is its workforce and councils across Australia employ around 189,000 across an amazing 394 occupations. Most of our employees are full time (68%), committed, long term employees with the unplanned turnover rate in our sector being a relatively low 8.3%. But we do+

  • The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), established by the Australian Government last year to improve housing affordability, is seeking greater engagement from councils which want to access its National Housing Infrastructure Facility.    The Facility has $1 billion and has been set up to provide finance for eligible infrastructure projects that will unlock+

  • Mayors, General Managers and key staff from more than 530 Local Government Areas across the country are being invited to join a national conversation in Canberra – with the countdown now on for the Regions Rising National Summit on 4-5 April. Hosted by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), the Summit will place regional issues including+

  • The NGA is an important opportunity for you and your council to influence the national policy agenda. The primary focus of all motions should be to strengthen the capacity of local government to provide services and infrastructure in Australia. To be eligible for inclusion in the NGA Business Papers, and subsequent debate on the floor+