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  • Former Australian Rail Track Corporation managing director John Fullerton has been appointed chairman of the new Freight Industry Reference Panel. The panel will provide industry with “a clear line of sight” on implementing the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, and it will report to Transport and Infrastructure Ministers annually. It will also elicit more+

  • Feedback to inform a review of local government vocational and education training qualifications will be open for public validation from Friday, 19 June to Friday, 10 July 2020. Local government employs around 200,000 people nationally, and VET qualifications (Certificate III to Diploma) provide this group with many of their training and skills. Current qualifications have+

  • The problem of feral and domestic cats in Australia will be examined in a new federal parliamentary inquiry that got underway this week. Feral cats have caused the extinction of some ground-dwelling birds and small to medium-sized mammals and they are a major cause of decline for animals such as the bilby, bandicoot, bettong, and+

  • Disaster recovery expert Anne Leadbeater will offer her insights on local government and community-led recovery in a Red Cross-hosted webinar on 9 July. Ms Leadbeater worked on behalf of the Murrindindi Shire Council to coordinate the initial recovery effort for communities in the Kinglake Ranges after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 when 173 people+

  • A major rezoning to create new housing in the Hills Shire Council area of Greater Western Sydney is among the latest tranche of projects to undergo fast-tracked assessment in NSW. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) announced the third tranche of fast-tracked assessments on 21 June, with all 19 projects to be determined+

  • A Federal Parliamentary inquiry looking at how migrants might be encouraged to settle in regional Australia has been suspended because of immigration restrictions. The Joint Standing Committee on Migration had cancelled public hearing in March due to the Covid-19 epidemic, but with no prospect of borders re-opening soon decided last week to wind up proceedings.+

  • Local Government, along with the states and Commonwealth, can enable more waste to energy projects by helping the sector develop a social license to operate. This means openly engaging with communities – not only on the benefits of advanced forms of waste processing but also addressing any environmental or health concerns. In a new report+

  • Feedback on Phase Three (urban areas) of South Australia’s Planning and Design Codes has been published by the State Planning Commission. The commission received 1790 submissions from councils, state agencies, industry practitioners and members of the community during a five-month consultation period. The What We Have Heard Report summarises these responses, including   a range+

  • Regional Australia attracted more people than it lost in the five years to 2016, contrary to popular perceptions that rural populations are declining, a new Regional Australia Institute report says. The report, The Big Movers: Understanding Population Mobility in Regional Australia said 65,200 people moved to the country based on 2011 and 2016 Census data.+

  • Major planning reforms brought forward to support the West Australian Government’s economic response to Covid-19 have passed through State Parliament. The reform centrepiece is a new development application process for significant projects that will be in operation for the next 18 months. Significant development will now be defined as:  development proposals with an estimated cost+

  • The Townsville City Council is to receive $145,00 in State and Commonwealth funding to buy five trailer-mounted generators to maintain services in areas susceptible to flooding, tidal inundation or sewer overflows. The Cairns Regional Council will receive $119,000 for a satellite trailer to supplement the communication networks and restore connectivity during network outages. These and+

  • The NSW Government will look at creating “greater flexibility” in the current rating system to allow councils to generate the income needed to support population growth. This would include creating additional rating categories and greater use of differential rating within urban residential rating systems. The proposal follows the Government’s decision to decline Independent Pricing Regulatory+

  • 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+

  • The Bureau of Statistics is soliciting local government involvement in consultations on the content proposed for collection in the 2020-21 Agricultural Census. The census is undertaken every five years to provide benchmark national, state, and sub-state data to inform Australian agriculture. The starting point for consultation is a proposed reduction in content (in comparison to+

  • Seventeen microgrid feasibility studies in West Australian and Northern Territory indigenous communities have received $19 million under the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund. The funding has been allocated under Round One of the $50 million initiative established last year to provide more reliable, secure, and cost-effective energy supply options for regional and remote communities.+

  • The Women’s Leadership and Development Program – which supports women working in local government, among other things – has received $1.8 million in new funding. Four successful grant recipients will receive a portion of the funding this financial year (2019-20) to deliver on projects targeted towards achieving women’s economic security, and supporting women during the+

  • The first meeting of the Smart Beaches Community of Practice (CoP) will be conducted by video-link on 23 June 2020 from 2-3pm. The Smart Beaches CoP has been established for local councils to share knowledge, establish best practice approaches and support collaboration of smart technology to improve beach safety. Lake Macquarie City Council is leading+

  • NSW council elections due later this year but postponed because of coronavirus health concerns have been rescheduled for 4 September 2021. Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock announced the new date this week, saying current councillors will continue to hold their civic offices until the rescheduled elections are held. An order has been published in the+

  • $15 million is being fast-tracked under South Australia’s Regional Growth Fund for projects to aid regional economies affected by Covid-19 restrictions. Grants from $50,000 on up to $2 million are available for projects which “provide enduring economic benefits and growth for regional South Australia”. Applications will be accepted from individual commercial enterprises, incorporated associations, and+

  • Eleven councils will develop a Council Accelerated Assessment Program as part of the NSW Government’s efforts to fast-track planning decisions during the Covid-19 crisis. Councils that agree to run their own programs will receive tools, guidance and support from Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). They also get direction and support from the state+

  • ALGA has made preserving Financial Assistance Grants and restoring FAGs funding lost in the 2014-15 indexation freeze a key outcome in its Strategic Plan 2020-23. The new plan, which will replace the Strategic Plan 2017-20, also includes detailed initiatives to: Secure increased Roads to Recovery funding to $800 million annually; Advocate for additional stormwater, water+

  • ALGA has welcome proposals to direct Mobile Black Spot Program funding towards regional and remote areas hitherto considered commercially unviable by telco providers. In a submission to a discussion paper on the design of the next round of the Mobile Black Spots Program – Round 5A – ALGA repeated its long-standing position that people in+

  • Local Government NSW has asked the Berejiklian Government to clarify an election promise to take back 15,000km of regional roads from councils. The Government announced in February 2019 that up to 15,000km of regional roads would be transferred to the state as part of a broader support package enabling local councils to better manage and+

  • Sixty regional airports will receive a share of $41.2 million in federal funding to help the aviation industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack announced funding for the projects this week under round 1 of the Regional Airports Program. They include $4.5 million for a project+

  • National Bushfire Recovery Coordinator Andrew Colvin has applauded local councils’ quick and effective use of emergency funding to provide community support. In an update on recovery efforts, Mr Colvin said vital support was being provided by an array of council projects, and “as further councils report on their activity we will consolidate this information and+

  • 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+

  • More than $13 million is being made available through the Queensland Resilience and Risk Reduction Fund to help local communities better prepare for future disasters. “I encourage Queensland councils, government departments and not-for-profits to think outside the box when it comes to disaster resilience and risk reduction and take advantage of this funding,” Queensland Treasurer+

  • Six peri-urban councils will be able to access Victoria’s Growing Suburbs fund for the first time after the State Government said it would top up the fund with an extra $25 million. The councils that will now have access to the fund are Baw Baw, Golden Plains, Macedon Ranges, Moorabool, Bass Coast and Surf Coast.+

  • Australia’s nascent hydrogen industry could be supported by co-locating hydrogen production at wastewater treatment plants, says Yarra Valley Water. A new paper co-produced by the corporation and Jacobs consulting engineers uses the Aurora wastewater treatment plant as a case study to explore the relationship between both outputs from electrolysis – hydrogen and pure oxygen. It+

  • The WA State Government has earmarked $319 million to build, buy, renovate, and maintain social housing as part of a new $444 million housing stimulus package. The social housing component of the package will see 1500 homes refurbished, around 250 dwellings built, and a regional maintenance program delivered for up to 3800 homes – including+

  • South Australia’s Planning and Design Code will begin in the state’s rural areas on 31 July, the SA Planning Commission confirmed this week. The code is already operating in outback areas (phase one of the reforms), and the commission says that when phase two begins, the code will be accessible via a modern ePlanning platform+

  • The Western Australian Planning Commission is inviting councils to apply to use developer cash contributions to fast-track new community infrastructure projects. Under WA’s planning framework, developers progressing a subdivision can be granted permission to provide cash payments to local governments for reinvestment in public open spaces, in lieu of setting aside land in a subdivision.+

  • John (“Tractor”) Ferguson, who began his career as a grader driver for the Bulloo Shire and later became its mayor, has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Mr Ferguson was one of 12 serving or retired councillors who were recognised in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours for their services to local+

  • Public consultations on four proposed changes to the way governments set heavy vehicle charges – and invest the proceeds – are planned in coming months. The proposals agreed to by the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) have four broad elements: service level standards, expenditure planning, the independent setting of heavy vehicle charges, and the hypothecation+

  • One hundred and sixty-three new local infrastructure and community projects in drought-affected areas have received funding under Round 4 of the Building Better Regions Fund. The local infrastructure projects slated to receive $207 million include: Tenterfield Water Treatment Plant replacement, NSW ($2,645,000); Disability Respite Care Facility in Goondiwindi, Qld ($589,523); Construction of Ravensthorpe Cultural precinct+

  • 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+

  • Wine and spirits bottles should be added to South Australia’s container deposit scheme to cut down on dumping costs and improve recycling rates, East Waste says. A subsidiary of seven Adelaide metropolitan councils, East Waste is concerned that the bottles often break in bins, contaminating other recyclables such as paper and cardboard. The call comes+

  • The Productivity Commission is to inquire into how governments are progressing in achieving the objectives and timelines of the National Water Initiative. In its 2018 report on national water reform, the PC found that Australia is managing its water resources well given a dry and highly variable climate and the importance of water to the+

  • A discussion paper on how to better incorporate Aboriginal cultural elements into future planning decisions in NSW was released this week. Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Secretary Jim Betts said the Designing with Country Discussion Paper provides an opportunity to share ideas on how to better incorporate Aboriginal cultural elements into future planning decisions.+

  • Road and maintenance works across NSW are being brought forward as part of the state government’s $2.3 billion Covid-19 package announced in March. The more than 70 regional road projects that are underway, or about to be started, are worth around $100 million according to Regional Roads and Transport Minister Paul Toole.   Projects already+

  • Commonwealth-State/Territory Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements are to be reviewed to ensure that assistance under the program is fair and equitable. The review will examine how each state applies the DRFA and whether the program should be adjusted to deliver more equitable, needs-based, assistance for all Australians, regardless of where they live. Emergency management ministers agreed+

  • The Water Services Association of Australia says wastewater and stormwater infrastructure investment could provide flow-on benefits for Covid-19 recovery. In recent months, several regional urban water utilities have supplied more water to support local businesses increase production to replace imports, the WSAA said in a recent submission to the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission. “During the+

  • A failure to win and maintain a social licence in the infrastructure sector can lead to extreme community backlash and costly delays, a new paper has warned. Where governments and businesses have adequately developed and maintained their social licence to operate, and earned the trust of the community, however, they are able to deliver assets+

  • Councils need more funding to provide parks and open space for apartment residents, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute says. Developer contributions and voluntary agreements are too uncertain to ensure good results, according to a new AHURI report. “We need to get baseline infrastructure in place no matter what,” said Laura Crommelin, a research+

  • 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+

  • IoT Alliance Australia wants to understand what skills developments are needed to advance the adoption of Internet of Things technologies.  The peak industry body is working with education providers to develop an IoT “skills barometer” and to use this to identify where to focus development of the IoT skills needed in Australia. The IOT skills+