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  • The Australian Taxation Office wants tax or finance professionals working in local government to consider helping it improve the government client experience. Local governments are a critical element of Australia’s system of government, and the ATO says it would welcome strong local government representation on its newly established government relations group. This group will collaborate+

  • New legislation allowing faster processing of applications by land owners to reduce fuel loads has gone on public exhibition in Tasmania. The State Government says its draft Bushfire Mitigation Measures Bill will make it easier to reduce fuel and mechanically clear vegetation for a fuel break “while balancing environment and community concerns”. Announcing the new+

  • The City of Perth Council and the Commonwealth and West Australian governments will invest $695 million in moving Edith Cowan University’s law and business schools into the CBD. The finalised Perth City Deal announced this week also includes initiatives to relocate the WA Academy of the Performing Arts into the CBD and expand the CBD+

  • More than 90 per cent of Australians want new infrastructure projects to prepare for more extreme events such as floods and fires, new research suggests. Polling by JWS Research, conducted on behalf of Infrastructure Australia in June, also found similar concerns are held about planning for epidemics and disease. The agency engaged JSW Research to+

  • The NSW Government will work with local councils to showcase open public spaces, including beaches, as part of its new Covid Safe Summer Plan. The plan is intended to support local businesses by encouraging more outdoor dining in the lead-up to the Christmas-New Year period and throughout summer. To help support current public health orders,+

  • Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) president Coral Ross will not stand for re-election at the Victorian local government elections on 24 October.  After more than 18 years as a councillor for the City of Boroondara, including three terms as mayor, Cr Ross said this week that now is the right time to stand aside. She+

  • Ten serving and former female councillors, including Lucy Turnbull, Clover Moore, and Linda Scott, are spearheading efforts to get more women to stand for election to local government in NSW. Launching the state government-funded campaign last week, Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said: “Currently, women represent just 31 percent of all NSW councillors, which in+

  • The Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC) has highlighted ALGA’s key role in national emergency management coordination. ANZEMC’s latest “On the Radar” newsletter also highlights the activities of state local government associations – all of which work closely with their member councils and state government agencies to improve emergency management. As well as being a+

  • Efforts by NSW councils to incorporate improved freight access into road safety and disaster recovery works have been lauded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. NHVR stakeholder manager (NSW) Tim Hansen said several road managers across NSW were taking an innovative approach to improved freight routes as part of their road safety programs. “In the+

  • More than 30 fire-affected councils in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland are to share $7 million in federal grants to invest in tourism drawcards. The 65 projects being funded under the $10 million Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants program include food and music festivals, art installations, sporting events, and nature trails – and are+

  • Councils which provide data for ALGA’s next National State of the Assets Report can immediately download a performance report of their key asset classes. ALGA has partnered with the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasian (IPWEA) to produce the 2021 report, which will provide consistent, evidence-based, infrastructure data for use by all levels of government.+

  • Victorian childcare providers, including councils, are getting additional Commonwealth support to allay the effects of the state’s second-wave Covid-19 lockdowns. The $305.6 million Child Care Recovery Package announced this week includes: A recovery payment of 25 percent of pre-Covid revenue to Victorian childcare services, until 31 January 2021; An extra payment of 15 percent of+

  • Cr Wayne Fewster has lived and worked in Gingin all his life, and was first elected to the Gingin Shire Council in 1993; serving 16 years, including two as Shire President. After a break of several years from council, Cr Fewster won election again in 2015, and became  Shire President in 2019. He is a+

  • A national project to assess key assets like bridges and culverts on local government heavy vehicle routes is being expanded to include more councils. The pilot phase of the Strategic Local Government Assessment Project (SLGAAP) involving 12 councils is now well underway, and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is moving to Round 1 of the+

  • Many Victorian councils are expecting to report operating deficits in 2020-21, some for the first time, because of Covid-19 impacts. The revelations come from a survey of Victorian councils conducted by Local Government Finance Professionals and published as a report by the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) Australia. The FinPro survey found that councils have+

  • National Cabinet had two jobs: fight Covid-19 and fight for the economy. Big ticks for item one, but how about the economy, and jobs? There is one obvious sector that needs help. Tourism, and the local communities that depend upon it, have been badly affected. This is particularly true for those geared for international tourists.+

  • It has been nearly eight months since I toured bushfire-affected local governments in NSW with LGNSW President Linda Scott, and my impressions of that time remain vivid. We saw councils doing extraordinary things for and behalf of their communities – helping coordinate fire-fighting response, providing equipment to the NSW Rural Fire Service, opening major evacuation+

  • The City of Whittlesea is spearheading a big local government presence at next week’s 2020 National Awards for Planning Excellence. The outer Melbourne council is in the running for two awards showcasing leading practice and achievement in planning and the planning profession across a range of disciplines and sectors. Other local governments in the running+

  • A Melbourne council is rolling out a virtual power plant (VPP) and putting solar panels on 40 buildings to help it achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Hobsons Bay City Council says the VPP and the large-scale photovoltaic panel installation (generating four megawatts) will reduce the council’s direct greenhouse gas emissions over the next two+

  • Infrastructure Australia is developing its next infrastructure roadmap and wants to confer with interested parties on possible policy directions and reforms. The Australian Infrastructure Plan 2021 will set out IA’s advice on policy and reform (non-build) solutions to improve user and community access to and quality of infrastructure services as identified in the Australian Infrastructure+

  • Seventeen regional Queensland councils will share almost $3.5 million to fund priority infrastructure upgrades to better prepare for future natural disasters. Funding for the projects, which include upgrades on roads, drainage systems and power supplies, will be administered by the Queensland Reconstruction Authority. Queensland Treasurer and Minister responsible for the QRA Cameron Dick said the+

  • Councils that uphold or certify disability access standards for public buildings are being asked to take part in a scheduled review of the benchmarks. The Disability (Access to Premises – Building) Standards 2010 ensure people with disabilities (and their families, carers and friends) have equal access to public building,  and that building certifiers, developers and+

  • Disaster assistance has been extended to help communities in Western Australia’s Great Southern region recover from damage caused by heavy rain and severe flooding. Storms in early August dumped two months of rain in two days in the area, with the City of Albany and the Shire of Denmark both experiencing significant damage to their+

  • Single-use plastics, including straws and cutlery, will be prohibited in South Australia from early next year after Parliament passed new legislation last week. The Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill 2020 bans the sale, supply and distribution of certain plastic products. But because of Covid-19 the ban will not come into force until+

  • Local councils owning and operating water and wastewater assets are being asked to take part in a voluntary national exercise to enhance cyber security resilience. The exercise, to be coordinated by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), will test and strengthen arrangements for responding to cyber incidents. ACSC head Abigail Bradshaw says “a cyber disrupting+

  • Virgin Australia will stop flying to seven regional destinations as it emerges from administration under the new ownership of private equity firm Bain Capital. Services to and from Yulara, Albury, Tamworth, Hervey Bay, Port Macquarie, Mildura, and Cloncurry would be withdrawn “for the foreseeable future”, an airline spokesman said last week. Nine routes in all+

  • A scoping study assessing the feasibility of developing a National Heavy Vehicle Bridge Assessment System has been published by Austroads. Bridge assessment processes are a major constraint in delivering reliable and timely heavy vehicle access to the national road network, according to Austroads. The large range of vehicle types and masses on an equally diverse+

  • Cr John White was elected to Victoria’s East Gippsland Shire Council in 2016, and became Mayor in October 2019. His involvement in the local East Gippsland community, particularly through local sporting clubs and the Country Fire Authority, dates back to the 1970s. Together with his wife, Leanne, Cr White operates a sheep, cattle and cropping+

  • National Bushfire Recovery Agency deputy coordinator Andrew Hocking will head an impressive array of speakers at ALGA’s National Local Roads and Transport Congress in November. After being forced to cancel its annual National General Assembly for Local Government because of Covid-19, ALGA has expanded the National Local Roads and Transport Congress to encompass natural disaster+

  • Reforms to the powers and immunities framework are being considered that could require telecommunications installations to conform to higher safety standards. Under the reform proposals published this week by the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the framework could incorporate a “primary safety condition” reaffirming that the “safety of telco installations is+

  • Australia is in recession and about two million Australians are out of work. If we really care about our communities, what is the role of Local Government in driving recovery? And why? The “why” is obvious. Those two million Aussies are our locals. They are our first-jobbers, family-starters, mums and dads, the middle-aged, the “wiser+

  • The Save the Children Fund wants young people involved in emergency planning at the local government level to ensure their needs are met. In a submission to the recent bushfires royal commission, Save the Children said youngsters’ needs were “systemically misunderstood and overlooked” in the responses to the fires, even though they are “uniquely vulnerable+

  • Tax or finance professionals working in local government are being asked to help improve the client experience of the Australian Taxation Office. The ATO recently formed a government relations group to explore the tax and super issues unique to government entities and to identify opportunities to support government at all levels in complying with tax+

  • A seasonal labour employment service is being expanded to enable regional fruit and vegetable growers to harvest crops and dispatch them to market. The Federal Government’s Harvest Trail Services (HTS) connects employers, growers, and farmers with workers to fill seasonal harvest jobs in major horticulture regions across the country. To address labour shortages created by+

  • Western Australia’s new container deposit scheme will have 200 refund points – including depots, reverse vending machines, bag drops, and pop-ups – when it is launched on 1 October. Announcing the details last week, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said 35 per cent of refund points will be operated by social enterprises and not-for-profits, 15 per+

  • An outer Melbourne council is using traditional Japanese poetry as a vehicle for reflecting residents’ experiences of Covid-19 lockdowns. The Shire of Yarra Ranges has invited residents to write and display haiku – three-line poems capturing moments in time, moments of stillness, and fleeting observations – on their rubbish bins.  Notable examples will be featured+

  • Early bushfire detection could save the economy $8.2 billion over the next 30 years, according to Australian National University modelling. Research led by the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods examined how much money would be saved between 2020 and 2049 under three fire detection scenarios: a 30-minute reduction in detection time for large+

  • Momentum for all homes built nationwide to incorporate livable housing design principles is picking up, with implications for local government. Advocacy group Livable Housing Australia (LHA) says the Australian Building Codes Board’s proposal to include minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code (NCC) – together with aspects of the Aged Care Royal+

  • The Federal Government will end contentious buybacks of water entitlements from Murray-Darling Basin irrigators and subsidise water infrastructure on farms instead. Announcing the Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package last week, Water Minister Keith Pitt said upgrading infrastructure for farming irrigators will ensure  greater water savings than buybacks while maximising benefits for Basin communities. A recent review+

  • Public preconceptions about recycling are inhibiting the long-term development of climate-resilient water sources, the country’s peak water industry body says. The Waters Services Association of Australia has released a 68-page report, All options on the table: Urban water supply options for Australia, that finds the cost of purified recycling water for drinking is comparable to+

  • The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has set the 2021-22 rate peg for NSW councils at 2.0 percent. The rate peg is the maximum percentage amount by which a council may increase its general income for the year. In 2020-21, it was set at 2.6 percent. The 2021-22 peg was calculated by taking the increase+

  • Legislation regulating the disposal of Commonwealth land to local governments and the acquisition of council land by the Commonwealth is being reviewed. While the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 (LAA) has not changed substantially since its enactment over 30 years ago, complex land acquisition processes involving compensation payments to landholders have become more difficult to finalise.+

  • Local government’s readiness to help reduce domestic violence is being stymied by inadequate state and federal government financial support, ALGA has told a federal inquiry. In a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee inquiring into family, domestic and sexual violence, ALGA said it is essential councils receive dedicated funding to maximise their capacity+

  • Liz Campbell was born and educated in the Kempsey District and elected to the Shire Council in 2008. With a background in the travel and tourism industries, Cr Campbell became Mayor in 2011 and was re-elected the following year when Kempsey held its first election for a popularly elected Mayor. Kempsey Shire Council, on the+

  • A contract believed to be the largest local government-led procurement of recycled road-making materials in NSW history has been put to public tender. The open market tender to provide recycled crushed glass (RCG) asphalt for road construction and maintenance activities for the 15 council members of the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) was+

  • Creating a single “scalable” national agency to lead disaster recovery and resilience efforts would bring many benefits, an interim bushfires report says. The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements released a 40-page list of “interim propositions” last week on Friday for local, state and federal governments to consider and respond to ahead of a+

  • The first major bushfire of the 2020-21 season occurred on Monday near Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, reminding us that bushfires wait for no-one, let alone the outcome of a Royal Commission. Ironically, the Trewantin fire took hold the day before the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements published its interim report – “mindful of the+

  • Organisers of agricultural shows and field days who cancelled their 2020 events because of Covid-19 can apply for a share of $7.2 million in Commonwealth funding. The Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days program will provide a one-off reimbursement to affected agricultural show societies and agricultural field day organisers. Announcing the $7.2 million grant last+

  • Federal Government policy changes to improve the delivery of telecommunications services in new developments were announced this week. Designed to provide Australians moving into new apartment and housing developments with better and cheaper access to high-speed broadband services, the Telecommunications in New Developments policy “provides a modernised framework for the deployment of services while fostering+

  • While much of eastern Australia is experiencing wetter than average conditions, the national bushfire outlook remains problematic in many areas. Releasing its Spring Seasonal Bushfire Outlook this week, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC said there was an above-normal fire potential for south-east Queensland as well as the state’s central coast extending north. Dry conditions+

  • A contemporary guide for designing walkable neighbourhoods in Queensland has been published by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (Qld). Developed with input from across the sector, the Street Design Manual: Walkable Neighbourhoods “recognises streets as an important connector to multi-purpose social spaces in our neighbourhoods … [and] offers access options for active transport+

  • Organisations and individuals supporting young people are being invited to apply for funding under the Youth Action Projects Grant Scheme (YAGPS). This targeted scheme offers grants of between $5000 and $20,000 to help finance projects which respond to the social challenges facing those aged 15 to 24. Projects need to be either new initiatives that+