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  • 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+

  • By SHARMILA FALZON It often takes place behind closed doors but violence against women is a complex problem the whole community must address. The Parramatta City Council (PCC) recognises it has a key role to play in driving change and we have worked extensively over the past six years to empower the community to take+

  • Australians overwhelmingly want to live locally in walkable neighbourhoods close to parks, a new Heart Foundation study has revealed. The survey also found that a sense of safety is high on the priority list for Australians when deciding where to live. The foundation surveyed 2895 Australians on “what matters most to them in making neighbourhoods+

  • Communities and businesses in bushfire-impacted regions of NSW now have till 28 January to apply for grants under the $250 million Bushfire Local Economic Recovery (BLER) fund. Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the deadline extension would enable as many communities and businesses as possible to access BLER funding provided by both the Federal+

  • Fact sheets setting out carrier obligations before and during 5G infrastructure installations are being developed for local governments, utilities, and infrastructure owners. The information will help parties understand their right to object to proposed activities and the timeframes for making objections, the Federal Government said this week. The Government was responding to a Parliamentary inquiry+

  • Several councils in NSW and WA have cancelled their Australia Day events, blaming Covid-19 restrictions and ongoing health concerns. Canterbury Bankstown, Liverpool, North Sydney, Inner West, and the Hills Councils in NSW have all cancelled events – as have the Perth metropolitan councils of Armadale and Bassendean. It is believed other councils are reconsidering Australia+

  • Telstra payphones with large digital screens are not “low-impact facilities” and the company must obtain council planning permission to install them, the Federal Court has ruled. The decision overturns a previous Federal Court ruling that allowed Telstra and its outdoor media company business partner, JCDecaux, to install large digital billboards as part of a roll-out+

  • Friends – As a long-time champion of local government’s capacity to create better, more harmonious places for the public good, I am deeply honoured to have been elected unopposed as ALGA’s new President last week by the ALGA Board. By way of further introduction, I entered local government in 2012, winning election to the City+

  • The Commonwealth Health Department has widened its public consultations to inform a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention. It follows “Interim Advice” provided to Prime Minister Scott Morrison in August by the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan. The advice, released this week, comprises 13 “in-principle” recommendations to improve the whole-of-government coordination and delivery of suicide+

  • Councils across Queensland have been involved in various campaigns and initiatives aimed at promoting awareness and prevention of domestic abuse.  In the City of Gold Coast, there have been campaigns via internal and external marketing platforms.  Residents have been provided with safety information cards and given the “Purple book” containing information about abuse and where+

  • Virgin Australia and Alliance Airlines have received authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to work together on 41 regional routes. The cooperative arrangement will allow the two operators to share information, and to agree on service capacity, schedules and potentially revenue sharing on the routes on which they operate, including for new routes+

  • Plans to introduce a road user charge for electric vehicles in South Australia have been criticised as likely to slow the take-up of EV technology nationally. State Treasurer Rob Lucas said the Government’s proposed charge would include a fixed component and a variable charge based on distance travelled, and would raise about $1 million per+

  • Dangerous fire weather days will become more numerous in future, and fire seasons for southern and eastern Australia will last longer. The CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology are also predicting a continued decrease in cool season rainfall across many regions of southern and eastern Australia, shorter but more intense heavy rainfall events, and fewer+

  • Average voter turnout at last month’s Victoria’s local council elections was a record 81.4 per cent, the Victorian Electoral Commission said last week. Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately congratulated Victorians on their record turnout for the election – which was conducted entirely by mail ballot because of Covid-19. Campaigning was restricted during the lockdown with no+

  • A West Australian council that unleased its community’s entrepreneurial spirit to tackle unemployment has won Australia’s top award for local government. The City of Mandurah initiated a series of programs for budding entrepreneurs about six years ago to help create jobs and build local skills in a region marked by rising unemployment. These programs –+

  • Disaster assistance has been made available to eight NSW coastal and inland local government areas impacted by storms on 20 October. The severe thunderstorms and associated high winds and flash flooding caused widespread damage across the Armidale, Bega Valley, Central Coast, Eurobodalla, Mid Coast, Shoalhaven, Snowy Valleys and Tamworth councils, including to local roads, businesses+

  • Round 5A of the Mobile Black Spot Program is now open as the Federal Government looks to improve coverage along major transport corridors and in disaster-prone areas. Announcing the round on Wednesday, Federal Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton said: “We want to support new ways of delivering mobile services+

  • Leading scientists and engineers have warned that National Waste Policy Action Plan goals will be “difficult to achieve without focusing on avoidance”. A new report from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, Towards a Waste-Free Future, has found that while the plan prioritises avoidance in principle, its “measures are heavily weighted towards waste collection+

  • Local Government Minister Mark Coulton has congratulated Linda Scott on her election as ALGA President, saying he looks forward to “a fruitful partnership in joint delivery of critical infrastructure and services benefitting all Australians”. Meeting with Cr Scott on the sidelines of the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Wagga Wagga, Minister Coulton said+

  • Efforts to increase agency procurement of recycled content have been boosted with a new report that engages with all levels of governments as well as industry. Published by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) the new report, Supporting government procurement of recycled materials sets out the challenges procurement managers face in buying goods containing recycled+