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  • 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+

  • Scott Phillips, a two-decade veteran of local government, has been appointed Local Government NSW’s new chief executive. Mr Phillips is currently filling a locum position at Uralla Shire Council. He was chief executive of Sutherland Shire Council from 2015-18, heading up 1800 employees and managing an annual operating budget of some $250 million. Before that,+

  • Local Government’s “remarkable capacity to deliver in times of disaster and other events” has been stretched by drought, flood, fire and Covid-19, Federal Parliament heard this week. Major-General Andrew Hocking, the deputy coordinator of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, told the Parliamentary Inquiry into Regional Australia that “in terms of manpower in local councils, horsepower+

  • National Cabinet has proven useful in tackling Covid-19 head on, and it could expand to take on job creation, population and infrastructure planning, freight productivity, recreation and sport, culture and arts, social cohesion, aged care, childcare, ending domestic violence – and many more areas where local government plays a key role and therefore must be+

  • Museums, galleries, and libraries will be allowed to reopen from 1 June 2020 after the NSW Government said it would begin easing Covid-19 restrictions. NSW Health will provide guidance to ensure the museums, galleries and libraries operate in a Covid-19 safe way, including: exclusion of staff and visitors who are unwell; limiting the number of+

  • Council-run childcare centres are racking up big financial losses in their struggle to stay open without access to the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program. The City of Whitehorse Council has had to shut two of its four childcare centres in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and is forecasting a $650,000 loss for the current quarter. Thirty-one staff at+

  • The Australian Motor Association wants to work with local government to help develop Motocross, Enduro, Supermoto and other facilities for its members. The AMA says its goal is to increase participation of women, children, indigenous Australians, and people with disabilities in its activities and that it has “hundreds of clubs and thousands of members across+

  • Councils that work to empower young people and foster their engagement in community and civic affairs are being invited to send two individuals to a virtual workshop series in June. The series is aimed at providing young Australians with practical tools to help build their communities, and is being organised by Ripple, a new platform+

  • The Energy Efficiency Council has called for upgrades of community and government buildings to stimulate jobs and rebuild a strong economy post the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement this week, the council and other peak bodies said: “If done well, these investments would durably lower energy bills; ease strains on a rapidly changing energy system;+

  • The Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Older Persons Advocacy Network are hosting free webinars to publicise support services for veterans and their families. The fourth webinar in the series (scheduled for 16 June) will canvass aids, equipment and home modification to support clients to live independently at home. Participants need to register for this+

  • The Heart Foundation is calling on local government to ensure all Australians have safe streets for walking and cycling during the Covid-19 crisis. In a new position snapshot entitled “Active Streets –the new normal for public space”  the foundation says councils should allocate more space on roads and footpaths for people to walk and ride+

  • The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has launched a Bushfire History Project to document the 2019-20 bushfires for the historical record. The commission is inviting people to submit videos or photographs taken during the bushfires or the ongoing recovery, or to submit a short video account explaining what they experienced during the bushfires.+

  • Twenty-four dangerous crash sites across South Australia will be fixed under the Black Spot Program’s 2020-21 funding round. Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack announced this week that SA would receive $8.7 million under the program’s latest funding round. A list of the funded projects can be found in his media+

  • A new research project to better understand household behaviours around food waste and lessen the amount of food sent to landfill has begun in South Australia. The project is a collaboration between the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, East Waste (a regional subsidiary of seven Adelaide councils), the University of Adelaide, Green Industries SA,+

  • Local community sustainability initiatives needing hard facts and evidence to progress their goals are being offered a potential new solution: pro-bono scientific advice. Future Earth Australia is accepting applications from community leaders to develop a community science partnership where a selected pro-bono scientist designs, develops, and produces research to enable progress on a community’s priority.+

  • The NSW Office of Local Government has begun making advance payments of Commonwealth Financial Assistance Grants to NSW councils. The payments follow last week’s announcement that the Federal Government will again bring forward the first two instalments of the estimated 2020-21 FAGs. The advance payments will represent about 50 per cent of the amount to+

  • This morning’s announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Local Government Minister Mark Coulton that local government will receive a $500 million economic stimulus package is tremendous news for councils, their elected officials and hard-working staff, and the communities they serve right around the country. The package recognises what we have been saying throughout+

  • A new $500 million federal government program will be established to allow councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects across the nation. The Local Road and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program is one of two components of a $1.8 billion local government stimulus package announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. The+

  • Queensland communities will get new or upgraded pools, playgrounds, caravan parks and other facilities under a $200 million local government jobs support program announced this week. Water and sewerage infrastructure and waste management facilities are also in line for extra state government funding to help Queensland’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Announcing the Covid Works+

  • Major changes to Western Australia’s planning system, including a new development application process for significant projects for the next 18 months, have been introduced into State Parliament. Under the proposed changes, the WA Planning Commission will the final arbiter for such projects, defined as: development proposals with an estimated cost of $30 million or more;+

  • Victorian councils should get state government support to increase food organics and garden organics (FOGO) kerbside collection services, a new report has recommended. Infrastructure Victoria (IV) says the state government should also “establish a minimum service standard for local government waste services to promote greater consistency in collections” and “require and support all local governments+

  • The NSW State Government has foreshadowed moves to have councils pool infrastructure funds drawn from developer contributions to invest in community infrastructure. NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes says the proposed legislative changes will “permit councils to pool funds across contribution plans, allowing them to bring forward planned projects where all the funds+