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  • The CSIRO and the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) will develop a nationally consistent bushfire modelling and prediction capability. The bushfire simulation tool will be developed from the CSIRO’s “Spark” fire prediction platform, and will open the way for “bushfire prediction opportunities across borders and over different landscapes”. The science agency says+

  • The Federal Government is planning to host a national roundtable on textile waste as part of its broader efforts to promote product stewardship. It is also investing $350,000 in Circular Threads – a new group to be led by the Australasian Circular Textile Association (ACTA) – to help reduce textile waste, particularly unwanted uniforms and+

  • A statewide waste levy will be introduced in Tasmania on 1 November, with the proceeds being invested back into waste management. The levy, which will start at $20 a tonne and rise to $60 a tonne after four years, will be collected by Environment Protection Authority Tasmania and managed by a new body, the Tasmanian+

  • The West Australian shires of Carnarvon, Upper Gascoyne and Derby-West Kimberley will get disaster assistance funding after last week’s heavy rain. A tropical low dumped up to 200mm of rain along the WA coast causing widespread damage to roads, including the North West Coastal Highway. Affected communities in the three shires will be eligible to+

  • More fenced areas are needed to protect native wildlife from rampant predation by feral or stray cats, a federal parliamentary inquiry has advised. Domestic and feral cats are killing three billion native animals yearly, a “horrifying” statistic that equates to a kill rate of more than 1100 per cat per year, inquiry chairman Ted O’Brien+

  • Federal ministerial responses to motions submitted by councils for debate at the 2020 National General Assembly have been published on ALGA’s website. Although the 2020 NGA was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, ALGA agreed to consider the 153 motions that had been submitted by councils for debate. After deliberations by the Board of Directors+

  • Lilliane Brady, NSW’s longest-serving female mayor and a forceful and effective advocate for her hometown of Cobar, has died aged 90. Cr Brady served on the shire council for 38 years, 20 of them as mayor, and told the ABC’s Back Roads program earlier this month that she planned to retire in September. Cr Brady+

  • Bans on purified recycled water for drinking should be lifted so that all supply augmentation options can be considered in the future, the Productivity Commission says. In a draft report into national water reform, the commission has also called for the removal of exemptions granted to the minerals and onshore gas industries from water consumption+

  • ALGA lodged its 2021-22 Pre-Budget Submission with the Federal Treasury last week – the essence of which is that more federal support for local government will help strengthen Covid-19 recovery. The measures outlined in the submission include: Continuing the $1.5 billion Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program with a focus on sustainable transport initiatives; Establishing+

  • A three-month trial at the Bathurst Regional Council to reduce clothing going into landfill has collected 1.6 tonnes of used textiles in just one month. In what is believed to be a first for regional NSW, the council partnered with Textile Recyclers Australia (TRA) for the trial, with TRA supplying bins to be set up+

  • Four new stories looking at the unique role the arts can play in the disaster management process have been made available as podcasts. In Season 2 of the “Creative Responders” podcasts, listeners will hear from council teams and participating artists as they examine what a community-led project looks like; why it is essential to centre+

  • South Australia’s new planning and design code will go live in metropolitan areas from 19 March, the State Planning Commission said last week. From that date on, all applications lodged will be required to be assessed against the new code, which replaces 72 Development Plans. Thirty-five metropolitan and major regional councils – which together handle+

  • The need for improved local and national adaptation measures to limit the growing fire risk in south-eastern Australia has been reiterated in another scientific study. Published in Communications Earth and Environment, the study also says adaptation measures need to be accompanied by ambitious global climate change mitigation effects to limit further increases in fire risk.+

  • Disaster Recovery Payments have been declared for eligible people severely affected by bushfires burning in the Shire of Mundaring and the City of Swan. The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) provides a one-off lump sum of $1000 for eligible adults and $400 for each eligible child under the age of 16. AGDRP is available+

  • Federal Politicians are urging eligible community groups and organisations to finalise their funding applications for Round 6 of the Stronger Communities Program. Round 6 will provide $22.65 million to fund small capital projects in each of the country’s 151 federal electorates. For this special round, grant funding will be up to 100 percent of eligible+

  • The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils has called for a review of “disproportionate” private gains flowing from publicly funded infrastructure investment in Sydney’s west.  “We have already seen examples of enormous private windfalls from the land acquisition processes at Badgerys Creek [site of Sydney’s second airport],” WSROC President Barry Calvert said in a media+

  • Eight new commercial projects to process West Australian plastic and tyre waste are to get $70 million in joint funding from the Commonwealth and WA state governments. They include a facility in eastern Perth that will process plastic waste into high-quality flakes that can be used to make food-grade and non-food-grade recycled resin. The new+

  • The Commonwealth can cement Covid-19 recovery by giving greater support to councils, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said this week. In its 2021-22 Pre-Budget Submission, ALGA urged the Morrison Government to prioritise local jobs, infrastructure investment, and community wellbeing initiatives. Economic recovery from Covid-19 and the 2019-20 droughts, floods and bushfires is imperative –+

  • Support for local government and community repair schemes should be a cornerstone of any future Right to Repair framework, an ALGA submission says. Right to Repair is a regulatory framework entitling consumers to have their consumer durables repaired by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, as well as being able to repair+

  • I was thrilled to see the name of Fay Miller in the list of serving and former local government officials recognised in this week’s Australia Day Honours list. Fay was Mayor of Katherine Town Council from 2012 until her forced retirement last September because of ill health – and in that time she exemplified the+

  • Trials to identify better ways of delivering voice services in regional and remote Australia via the internet will begin shortly. As part of the Commonwealth’s $2 million Alternative Voice Services Trials (AVST) Program, NBN Co and two smaller telecommunications companies, ConceroTel and Zetifi, have been selected to conduct the new trials. NBN Co will deliver+

  • The Australian Taxation Office is reminding local government finance managers to renew their manual authorisation in RAM before their 12-month expiry date. Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) is an authorisation service that allows you to act on behalf of a business online when linked with myGovID. To renew, the ATO says to log in to RAM+

  • Accessible Arts has developed a new workshop suitable for arts and cultural organisations in the local government sector. The arts and disability organisation says this would be suitable for councils looking to improve their online engagement with people with disabilities. The 90-minute online events workshop, developed with the support of the Australia Council for the+

  • Seven Queensland councils will share $8.9 million of additional funding for a range of projects to help drive economic recovery in communities impacted by last year’s bushfires. They include the Bundaberg Regional Council, Gympie Regional Council, Scenic Rim Regional Council, Somerset Regional Council, Southern Downs Regional Council, Sunshine Coast Regional Council, and the Toowoomba Regional+

  • The signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance half a century ago is being celebrated on World Wetlands Day on 2 February. On that date in 1971, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands was signed into being in Ramsar, an Iranian city on the shores of the Caspian+

  • Local government should be supported to increase active transport options to help bolster Melbourne’s recovery from Covid-19, the state’s infrastructure adviser says. With the pandemic having led to more congested roads and crowded public transport in the city, Infrastructure Victoria says the state government is having to grapple with competing objectives such as transmission risk,+

  • Regional communities can take years to recover economically from natural disasters with the impacts often spilling over to nearby regions. A report released by SGS Economics & Planning and Suncorp Insurance highlights the importance of rapid insurance payments and the need to protect regions from future disasters. The report, Economic Recovery after Disaster Strikes Volume+

  • The Charles Darwin University Education and Community Precinct is scheduled to completed by 2024, the first Annual Progress Report on the Darwin City Deal shows. Work on the $250 million precinct, which is expected to attract more international students to Darwin and inject about $600 million into the local economy, began in October. The Annual+

  • Former Katherine Mayor Fay Miller was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to local government, tourism, and the community of Katherine on Australia Day. She was one of several elected and non-elected officials recognised in the Australia Day Honours for their services to local government. Ms Miller, originally from+

  • The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation says “significant action across the supply chain” is needed for Australia to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets. In a new report on the state of packaging in Australia and progress towards the 2025 targets, APCO said the volume of plastic “placed on market” in 2018-19 had declined by six+

  • The Upper Hunter Shire Council has approved changes to its ambitious plan to put the Scone Regional Airport on a sustainable footing after years of financial losses. At a special meeting on 7 January, a Council committee supported changes to the construction of the planned terminal, including reducing the building’s overall footprint by 260 square+

  • More markets for recycled materials are needed to build a circular economy, says the CSIRO – along with less contaminated waste streams, and a greater reprocessing capacity. In its Circular Economy roadmap for plastics, glass, paper and tyres, Australia’s national science agency says there is no single “silver bullet” for transitioning to a circular economy+

  • Federal environment laws should be amended immediately to allow states and territories to deliver “single-touch” environmental approvals, an independent review has advised. But the new arrangements must be subject to rigorous, transparent oversight by an independent environment assurance commissioner and underpinned by legally enforceable national environmental standards. The significant environmental law reform is one of+

  • 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+