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  • Happy New Year for 2021! A very warm welcome to you all at the start of what is likely to be another tumultuous year when local governments will be stretched and tested in many ways. National Cabinet Advocacy – Striving for Your Seat at the Table In 2020, local governments gave such magnificent support for+

  • The National Cities Performance Framework (NCPF) is being reviewed for the first time since its 2017 launch with a view to updating liveability indicators. The framework tracks the performance of 21 of Australia’s largest cities across key measures such as jobs, housing, and liveability – thereby enabling governments, industries and communities to better target, monitor+

  • Australia now has a nationally consistent approach to emergency warnings for bushfire, flood, storm, cyclone, extreme heat, and severe weather hazards. The Australian Warning System was a recommendation of last year’s Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and was introduced in December. Developed with input from emergency services and hazard agencies nationwide, the new+

  • Nearly 100km of regional roads in Western Australia will be upgraded throughout 2020-21 under the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network (WSFN) program. Some $20 million is being invested in the second tranche of upgrades under the WSFN program, established in 2020 to increase freight efficiency and productivity, reduce vehicle-operating cost and improve road safety along strategic+

  • Under-insurance in northern Australia is a significant and growing problem, with around 40 per cent of properties in northern WA carrying no cover whatever. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, rates of non-insurance in the Northern Territory are 26 percent, and in North Queensland 17 percent. In the final report from its Northern+

  • Heavy rain along Australia’s east coast in the past month has seen disaster assistance extended to over 30 local government areas in Queensland and NSW. In Queensland, assistance has gone to 16 local government areas, including the Burke, Cassowary Coast, Charters Towers, Cook, Croydon, Etheridge, Hinchinbrook, Kowanyama, Mareeba, Mornington, Palm Island, Tablelands and Whitsunday councils.+

  • Federal funding of $7.3 million has been announced for upgrades of Driver Reviver sites, including shelters, picnic tables, power and water facilities, barbecues, parking, and lighting. All site owners, including state and local governments, are being encouraged to submit applications for Round 2 of the Driver Reviver Upgrade Program. The Driver Reviver scheme is now+

  • The federal Agriculture Department wants local government’s help to eradicate khapra beetles detected in white goods and highchairs imported into Australia last year. The highly invasive beetles target stored grains and dried foods and are regarded as the world’s second most damaging insect pest. Last August, khapra beetles were detected in the packaging of a+

  • Applications for $50 million of federal funding to undertake critical flood mitigation infrastructure projects opened on 21 December. Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud says the program will enable the Commonwealth to “contribute to, or fund, the maintenance, improvement, or construction, of flood mitigation infrastructure which will improve the resilience of local communities to withstand+

  • While Covid‑19 challenged the financial viability of many local governments, none reduced waste services and only a very few adjusted recycling collection schedules, the Australian Local Government Association has reported. Assessing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on kerbside waste collection and recycling services, ALGA said that “while there was anecdotal evidence of increased kerbside+

  • Eligible local government agencies are being urged to finalise their applications for Round Five of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF). The Commonwealth is making $200 million available for Round Five. Of this, $100 million is being directed to a Community Investments Stream, with the remaining $100 million going to an Infrastructure Projects Stream focused+

  • Regional Express is planning to introduce new routes as well as increase services to country centres to support its new capital city services starting in autumn. The airline will begin flying between Sydney and Melbourne on 1 March with a Sydney-Brisbane service scheduled for after Easter. It eventually hopes to have at least 10 Boeing+

  • The outlook for Australia Day activities organised by local governments remains fluid, with many councils reviewing planned events because of Covid-19 health concerns and crowd restrictions. In late November, ALGA News reported that Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, North Sydney, Inner West, and the Hills Councils in NSW had all cancelled events – as had the Perth+

  • The NSW, Victorian and South Australian recycling industries are in line for $73 million in grants as money from the Commonwealth’s $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) starts to flow. The Federal and NSW State Governments today announced a $35 million grant round for recycling companies, and earlier this week, the Federal and South Australian+

  • It was an honour to represent you at today’s inaugural National Federation Reform Council, a meeting of the Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and the Treasurers, in Old Parliament House in Canberra. Formed when COAG was abolished, the Council will meet annually to discuss issues of national significance. I was pleased to hear the Prime+

  • The Australian Energy Regulator’s price comparison service has been improved to enable households and small businesses to make more informed energy choices. Energy Made Easy is a free and independent service enabling NSW, Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian and ACT residents to find and compare electricity and gas plans available in their local area. The Regulator+

  • The Far North Queensland Shire of Douglas is getting than $10 million to repair, rebuild and reinforce infrastructure damaged by the devastating monsoon trough of early last year. The money for the projects is coming from the 2019 Betterment program jointly funded by the Federal and Queensland Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).+

  • The City of Parramatta Council has taken out the coveted Leadership City category at this year’s Smart Cities Awards Paramatta won the judges’ nod for implementing a suite of dynamic smart cities projects, including sensing network on a new 25-hectare development, a parking app which was enhanced in 2020 in response to Covid-19, and Floodsmart+

  • Disaster assistance has been made available to reimburse firefighting costs on Queensland’s Fraser Island as operations continue to manage ongoing bushfires. The bushfires started in mid-November and have now burnt about 80,000 hectares of the island. Nearly 100 firefighting personnel, supported by heavy machinery, dozens of fire trucks and multiple firefighting aircraft, are battling the+

  • Net overseas migration has slumped since March, with Australia expected to record its first net outflow since the end of World War II this financial year. The Federal Government’s first Population Statement says pandemic restrictions are also expected to affect household decisions about family size and migration between and within states and territories. “Covid-19 will+

  • A $50 million National Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Fund has been set up by the Federal Government to help communities to better prepare for extreme weather events and flooding. The program has been established under the Emergency Response Fund and aligns with recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, the National Disaster Risk+

  • A Bill allowing the Commonwealth to override arrangements entered by states, local governments and universities with foreign governments was signed into law this week. Under the Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will have the power to prevent prospective foreign arrangements from proceeding, or cancel existing arrangements, where+

  • Some local governments struggle to implement green purchasing policies because of a lack of baseline/assessment of such procurement policies in the public sector. According to a new University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School report, municipalities that track their green purchasing policies are more likely to elevate the importance of green purchasing in their+

  • The Australia Council for the Arts has advised that local governments can apply for funding to aid recovery in the cultural and creatives industries sector. The Federal Government is providing $2 million to the Reimagine: Sector Recovery Initiatives which the Australia Council for the Arts will administer. Recovery initiatives are offered in two streams: The+

  • A Federal Parliamentary committee inquiring into options for financing faster rail between major capital cities has suggested all three levels of government focus on value-capture mechanisms.  Chairman of the House of Representatives Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Committee John Alexander tabled the faster rail financing options report this week. “Before Covid-19, this committee saw funding faster+

  • Although flooding is Australia’s costliest natural hazard-related cause of disaster, a devolved model for floodplain risk management (FRM) has led to uneven outcomes at the local level. Some communities are well progressed towards holistic FRM, but others are at a less mature stage of working towards flood risk assessments and appropriate FRM plans. A new+

  • The Productivity Commission has published an issues paper as a prelude to its forthcoming inquiry into the costs and benefits of a right of repair. There is no single definition of a “right to repair”, but the PC says that “in essence it relates to regulations to maximise a consumer’s opportunity to repair their goods+

  • Four hundred forty-five councils, or 83 percent of all local governments, have now provided data for the 2021 National State of the Assets (NSoA) Report. This is an increase of 13 percentage points in the overall participation rate since 2014, and eight percentage points since 2018. The Australian Local Government’s Association’s NSoA project has regularly+

  • The Commonwealth should expand its regional infrastructure spending to drive economic recovery – consulting with local and state governments to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. This approach would help underpin economic recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Senate Economics References Committee said last week. In the final report from its inquiry into the+

  • A unified waste management approach across the states and territories is critical to developing a national circular economy, a new federal parliamentary report says. Developing a national framework which features an appropriate blend of regulation, incentive-based actions, taxes and levees, and long-term policy certainty, would foster innovation and lead to new opportunities that will create+

  • This week, as we celebrated the International Day of People with Disability, I’m proud to have signed on behalf of our nation’s local councils a statement of continued commitment by all governments to deliver a new 10-year National Disability Strategy. This is very positive news to the 4.4 million Australians with disability – including my+

  • Thirty-six projects supporting drought-affected communities in rural and regional areas have won a share of $1.2 million in federal government funding. They include upgrades to the agricultural hall in Aldersyde, WA; funding for the Gunning Arts Festival in NSW; a theatre, gallery and community hub in Monto, Qld; beehives for Students of the Air in+

  • Councils are being invited to take part in a joint Monash University/RMIT project to identify research priorities to advance active transport in Australia. University researchers funded by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation are undertaking two related surveys to develop a list of critical questions that need to be addressed to advance active transport in Australia.+

  • Researchers assessing the wellbeing of people who responded to the Black Summer bushfires want to draw on the experiences of local government staff. Many local government authority staff played important roles in responding to the fires, and University of Western Australian (UWA) researchers are inviting them to participate in a study to help ensure the+

  • The Building Ministers Forum (BMF) expects to settle a position on the inclusion of minimum accessibility standards in the National Construction Code early next year. After a meeting, last Friday, state and federal ministers said a national shortage of accessible residential housing in Australia has implications for the 4.4 million Australians living with disability, older+

  • A service system reoriented towards early prevention could help Australia reduce and end homelessness, says a new Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) report. In the absence of a national homelessness strategy, Australia has a highly fragmented service system, with over 1500 specialist homelessness services (SHSs) funded by all government, charities, and other organisations.+

  • Councils have been advised that they can apply for Commonwealth grants to build safe havens for threatened native wildlife species. The $6.78 million Safe Havens Grants Program was announced in May as part of the Federal Government’s Environment Restoration Fund, the objective of which is to reduce extinction risk to nationally listed threatened species by+

  • Tasmania’s recycling industry will receive up to $16 million in new investment over the next four years under a national partnership agreement signed last week. Under the agreement, the Tasmanian Government will provide up to $5.5 million in grants, with the Federal Government matching this dollar-for-dollar through its Recycling Modernisation Fund. The grants will be+

  • A new report has identified how councils can invest in renewable energy, urban greening, and climate action to drive local economic recovery. Published by Cities Power Partnership (CPP), the Clean Jobs for Communities report says towns and cities can play a crucial role in helping overcome Australia overcome its climate and health crises. “Local governments+

  • Administrative shortcomings in NSW’s waste levy regime may be putting waste diversion and recycling targets at risk. NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford said in a report last week that although the levy helps divert waste from landfills, a lack of timely data means recycling targets for municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste “are unlikely+

  • For local government, there is no more vital – or rapidly evolving – task than effective asset management. As the owners of infrastructure valued at more than $345 billion, Australia’s 537 councils comply with laws and regulations governing engineering standards, work health and safety, and electromagnetic radiation, etc. Now, however, they are also having to+

  • Telstra, Optus and TPG are getting $13.2 million in federal funding to improve back-up power at 467 mobile phone towers across the country. Money for the upgrades – which will ensure a minimum of 12 hours of back-up power at towers in the event that mains electricity is lost – is being provided under Stage+

  • A report setting out a “pragmatic and inclusive” approach to national urban water reform has been made public a year after being handed to the Federal Government. Commissioned by the Urban Water Reform Committee (UWRC), the report sets out how reforms in the areas of institutional arrangements, planning, service delivery, regulation and information, can be+

  • Local government planners sometimes fail to appreciate that valuations of coastal wetlands as disaster risk-reduction ecosystems can improve decision-making. To help address the failure to adequately consider valuations, the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has published the results of a study into the economic valuation of the disaster risk reduction services provided+

  • Australian and New Zealand Health Ministers have failed to agree to allow fresh fruit juice with no added sugar to score up to five on the Health Star Rating (HSR) system. The ABC has reported that last Friday’s Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation voted down a proposal by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud that fresh+

  • Greater collaboration will be necessary to ensure packaging and plastic waste in remote and regional areas are properly managed in future, a new report says. To that end, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) paper identifies 22 opportunities for improvement across capability development, waste collection, transportation, recycling, and end markets. These include actions by all+

  • In two weeks’ time, it will be my honour to represent you at the first-ever meeting of the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC). The NFRC was set up, if you recall, after intergovernmental reforms triggered by the scrapping of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) – of which ALGA was a foundation member. ALGA was+

  • Stakeholders met in Townsville and Toowoomba this week to discuss the next priorities for Queensland’s northern and southern Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative. Federal Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said both meetings were productive affairs that enabled local representatives to have their say and to put their ideas forward+

  • Australia’s climate is being influenced by La Niña event, but fire remains a concern in NSW and Victoria as grasslands dry out in the warmer weather. The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook: December 2020- February 2021 reports that above-normal fire conditions now exist in “large parts of NSW west of the Great Dividing Range face, as+

  • Hybrid technology able to transform sewage treatment plants into low-emissions operations capable of generating energy has earned its developer a Eureka Prize. University of Technology Sydney researcher Dr Qilin Wang received the 2020 Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher for his work in creating a closed-loop system for hydrogen production from waste-activated sludge (WAS). His+

  • A council that was recently vying for the 2020 National Award for Local Government has been named as one NSW’s most progressive and innovative councils. Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council was awarded the 2020 A.R. Bluett Memorial Award (metropolitan/regional) at the annual conference of Local Government NSW (LGNSW) held this week. Bellingen Shire Council took out the+

  • The Commonwealth Treasury has begun consultations on options to accelerate the take-up of electronic invoicing by businesses and other commercial entities. Having adopted the Peppol framework as the national standard for e-invoicing in 2018, the Federal Government recently mandated all its agencies to adopt e-invoicing by 1 July 2022. The state and territory governments, and+