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  • A University of Queensland research survey aimed at getting a clearer picture of the extent of local government action on cats has been extended. A better understanding of cat management strategies in place nationally – and issues and challenges arising – will provide valuable context for a more holistic approach to managing pet cats and+

  • Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Local Government Minister Mark Coulton’s presence at today’s video-linked ALGA board forum emphasised what is shaping as a watershed moment for Australia. Amid moves to restart the economy – a process in which local government’s role will be pivotal – the Deputy Prime Minister emphasised the importance of improving+

  • Local Government Areas hit by the 2019-20 bushfires and Covid-19 restrictions may experience GDP declines of up to 23 per cent, a new report suggests. SGS Economics and Planning said one of hardest hit of all bushfire-affected LGAs is East Gippsland where GDP for 2019-20 is set to decline by $1.466 billion (or 22.6 per+

  • The National Cabinet has endorsed principles paving the way for the staged resumption of sport and recreational activities after coronavirus restrictions are eased. The “National Principles for the Resumption of Sport and Recreation Activities” were developed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)  and are intended to guide the staged return of outdoor activities+

  • NSW councils will get greater flexibility to increase rates to enable them to address financial hardships caused by drought, bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic. Under a proposed amendment to the Local Government Act to go before Parliament next week, councils which have not previously raised annual rates by the maximum allowable percentage under the annual+

  • Efforts to reduce Australia’s road toll appear to have stalled, with 1154 lives lost on the nation’s roads in the 12 months to March. This was an improvement of only seven on the 1161 fatalities recorded in the 12 months to March 2019, according to a new Australian Automobile Association report benchmarking the performance of+

  • Federal Local Government Minister Mark Coulton has written to council mayors to encourage their communities to download the new COVIDSafe phone application. The COVIDSafe app is key part of the Commonwealth’s efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19, and to ease restrictions whilst keeping Australians safe. In his letter, Mr Coulton said the more Australians+

  • Local Councils in NSW, Queensland, WA, and SA have been granted a share of $9 million in Commonwealth funding to upgrade remote airstrips. Eligible projects in Round 7 of  the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program included runway surface upgrades, stormwater drainage, runway lighting and animal-proof fencing. In other funding news, two community projects in the McKinlay+

  • Two decades ago, Perth councils began adopting “developer percent for art” policies, and now nearly 75 per cent of the city’s LGAs have one. That’s according to RobertsDay, an urban planning and design firm which recently published a report based around a survey of councils to find out how developer-funded public art is faring in+

  • With ready access to local recycling collections, local governments are leaders in incorporating recycled materials into their roads. This year, for example, six Adelaide councils – with funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia – are testing the properties of crumb rubber in asphalt. This initiative will improve understanding of crumb rubber performance under Australian conditions and+

  • I wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last Thursday urging him to consider a local government stimulus measure in the form of a one-off grant equivalent to two quarters of the annual $2.6 billion Financial Assistance Grant funding stream. ALGA’s approach was motivated by the undeniable fact that local communities around Australia are hurting and+

  • The NSW Government has announced a $395 million economic stimulus package to maintain essential local services and infrastructure and keep people in council jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic. The centrepiece of the support package is an allocation of $112.5 million from the state government’s “Jobs for NSW” fund to support a Council Job Retention Allowance+

  • A new Tasmanian Local Government Act has moved a step closer after the State Government released the results of two years of consultation with councils and other stakeholders last week. Local Government Minister Mark Shelton said feedback indicated three of the 51 reform proposals for the legislative framework review were strongly opposed “and accordingly will+

  • The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has reiterated its call for establishing a targeted natural disaster mitigation program with funding of $200 million annually for four years. In a 3000-word submission to the National Natural Disaster Royal Commission, ALGA said local governments had welcomed the Commonwealth’s decision to establish a Commonwealth Emergency Response Fund in+

  • An early start will be made to 22 Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) projects under a joint Commonwealth/Queensland State Government agreement announced this week. Key regional routes targeted for works include the Flinders Highway, Kennedy Developmental Road (Hann Highway), Carnarvon Highway, Dawson Highway and Dawson Developmental Road (Springsure – Tambo), Gulf Developmental Road, Gregory Highway+

  • Western Australian Local Government Authorities will receive $15.4 million in Black Spot Program funding over the next 12 months to fix 33 dangerous crash sites across the state. Locations being funded under the program’s 2020-21 funding round have seen a total of three fatal and 124 crashes causing injuries over the past five years.  For+

  • Criteria to progress projects through a fast-tracked assessment process have been released by the NSW Government, along with details of the first tranche of accelerated assessments.  The criteria form part of the state government’s Planning System Acceleration Program to keep the economy moving, and were formulated by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE)+

  • The City of Melbourne Council has become the first Local Government Authority to conduct a virtual citizenship ceremony, with seven people becoming new Australians last week via video link. With councils unable to stage citizenship formalities in the usual way because of Covid-19 restrictions, the Department of Home Affairs started trialling video link ceremonies in+

  • The Federal Government replaced its AUSkey and Manage ABN connections to online services with myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) last month. However, some councils have not yet to begin using myGovID and RAM, limiting their ability to access services such as the Australian Taxation Office’s Business Portal. The ATO is recommending these councils make+

  • Regional Express (REX) delivered an ultimatum to South Australian regional councils last week: reduce your airport fees for five years or we’ll cease all flights, permanently – and you’ve got four days to call a special meeting and agree. Anyone familiar with REX’s past dealings with Local Government would not have been surprised by last+

  • Days after demanding South Australian regional councils support it through the Covid-19 pandemic or risk losing their air links, Regional Express (REX) has obtained federal funding to continue servicing its network destinations. In recent weeks, REX has cut services drastically even as it has sought state and federal government financial support. On 13 April ,+

  • The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) wants state government support for a Covid-19 plan by councils to create jobs, stimulate local economies, and provide ratepayer relief. The $608 million plan includes a new capital works program, funding for a 3000-strong “green army” to protect and improve the environment for the tourism and agricultural industries,+

  • Top End councils will be able to access funding of $13.1 million to counteract Covid-19 impacts in what the Northern Territory Government says is the first stimulus package for local government. The package, to be split into two funding pools, comprises $6 million to allow councils to apply for funding to help defer rates and+

  • WA’s Local Government (Financial Management) Regulations have been amended to give councils quicker access to funding during the Covid-19 crisis. The changes will, among other things, allow councils to re-purpose borrowed money, increase the local government tendering threshold to $250,000 to align with state government thresholds, and exempt the sector from the need to give+

  • Regional mobile coverage will be improved with 182 new base stations planned under Round Five of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program. The results of the Round 5 assessment process were announced on 21 April, taking to 1229 the total number of base stations funded under the Mobile Black Spot Program. According to the+

  • A new website run by Beyond Blue and funded to the tune of $10 million by the Federal Government has been set up to support people through the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service includes helpful information covering a range of topics such as coping with loneliness and isolation, managing your mental health+

  • NSW councils will be provided with $25 million to rebuild or refurbish up 171 local showgrounds as part of the State Government’s Covid-19 stimulus package. In addition, $9 million has been earmarked for the Stronger Communities Cluster to accelerate minor projects and maintenance on assets such as regional courthouses and correctional facilities. Deputy Premier and+

  • The Western Australian Government has deferred the launch of its container deposit scheme due to Covid-19 concerns. The “Containers for Change” scheme was to have begun on June 2. Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the postponement – in accordance with advice from the scheme’s coordinator, WA Return Recycle Renew – reflected the unprecedented impact of+

  • An unexpected victim of the Covid-19 pandemic, local media, has been crippled in both metro and country locations, with many mastheads suspending printing and standing down staff in the wake of collapsing advertising revenues as businesses cut non-essential expenditure or simply stop trading. The electronic media – free-to-air television and radio – is also under+

  • About 80 per cent of NSW’s 128 local councils have signed a workplace deal allowing workers stood down due to Covid-19 service closures to access a job retention allowance of $858.20 a week for up to three months. Under the Local Government (Covid-19) Splinter Award 2020, affected Local Government employees can supplement that allowance from+

  • A range of exemptions to local planning requirements have been announced under new state of emergency powers in Western Australia. Amendments to the Planning and Development (Local Planning Schemes) Regulations 2015 came into effect earlier this month, and give the Minister for Planning, Rita Saffioti, authority to temporarily override requirements and conditions set out in+

  • A review of developer contributions in NSW, headed by Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat, has been announced by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes. The performance of existing arrangements will be examined and recommendations made for reform based around transparency, efficiency, certainty, and fairness. Infrastructure contributions are made by developers to help deliver+

  • South Australia’s rural communities are ageing significantly faster than metropolitan Adelaide, with the Goolwa-Port Elliiot region having the oldest regional population profile in the state. Sixty-one per cent of its population is over the age of 50. COTA (Council on the Ageing) SA said while people living in rural communities feel a deep connection with+

  • Disaster assistance has been extended to a further 12 Local Government Areas in NSW affected by storms and flooding in February – including Blayney, Cabonne, Coonamble, Glen Innes Severn, Gilgandra, Mid-Western, Narromine, Oberon, Tenterfield, Upper Hunter, Walgett and Warrumbungle. Eighty-three LGAs in NSW, as well as Lord Howe Island, experienced significant losses and disruption due+

  • A Curtin University research project examining how Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be better integrated into Local Government Facility Management (FM) is looking for facilities managers to complete a short survey. Council buildings are the second-largest asset class managed by Local Governments nationally, and the survey is designed to explore and identify factors which can+

  • Scholarships worth between $1000 and $5000 are currently available to women working for local government to help support their participation in a range of online career building leadership development programs. The initiative is providing junior managers through to senior executive women with scholarships to support their growth and development via participation in one of three+

  • The first hearing of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements was held this week. Commission chairman Mark Binskin told the online hearing “we do seek to point fingers or apportion blame to any jurisdiction, government or individual. Rather, we are focused on national coordination and on looking for lessons for the future”. The+

  • A special videoconference of the ALGA board today reflected on how Local Government is stepping up and reinventing itself to play a key role throughout the Covid-19 crisis and beyond, despite facility lockdowns, revenue losses, imminent rate relief impacts and external calls for more spending and higher debt servicing. Three main principals emerged from the+

  • Council-run childcare or early education centres ineligible for JobKeeper payments may be eligible for exceptional circumstances supplementary payments under the federal government’s Early Childhood Education and Care Relief package. The Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment (supplementary payment) is available for providers/services who need a “top up” on the Early Childhood Education and Care Package payment (base+

  • The Department of Home Affairs will begin conducting online citizenship ceremonies in place of the traditional ceremonies that have been impacted by Covid-19 health and social distancing restrictions. Home Affairs began trialing ceremonies over secure video link at the end of March. When fully implemented, the online citizenship service will be able to confer citizenship+

  • NSW Rural Fire Service (FRS) commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons is quitting the role to lead a newly created state disaster agency. Announcing the creation of Resilience NSW this week, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it would oversee the government’s disaster preparedness and recovery efforts – “be it Covid, be it cybersecurity, be it a whole range of+

  • Disaster assistance is now available to help Gascoyne and Pilbara communities recover from extensive flooding along the Western Australian coastline last month. Assistance is being provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA). Natural Disaster and Emergency Management minister David Littleproud said said repairing key local roads would help communities recover quickly+

  • A new Department of Regional NSW has been established to coordinate support for communities, businesses and farmers affected by bushfires, floods and Covid-19. The department will bring together the divisions of Primary Industries, Local Land Services, Resources and Geoscience to form a central agency dedicated to regional issues. It will be headed by the Department+

  • The Sydney and Darwin city councils have announced packages to support local households, businesses and community groups during the Covid-19 epidemic. The $55 million City of Darwin response includes providing casual employment opportunities, waiving of permit charges, fees and levies to 30 June, deferral of business and household rates to 30 June, and rent relief+

  • The Tasmanian State Government will work with councils and the Tasmanian Planning Commission to ensure assessment and approvals processes are kept open and applications can continue to be processed during coronavirus restrictions. Planning Minister Roger Jaensch said modifying processes to allow planning, development and consultation to continue in the health emergency would mean the economy+

  • The NSW Government has announced funding of up to $82 million to be shared amongst 260 council-run childcare centres across the state. LGNSW President Linda Scott said that without the six-month rescue package, “we were looking at the closure of council-run childcare centres. The NSW government is also looking to cut red tape and fast-track+

  • The first tranche of Covid-19 fact sheets translated for people from a non-English speaking background have been published by the Department of Home Affairs. Available in 28 key languages spoken by Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities and settlement clients, the fact sheets contain consistent, up-to-date information relating to the novel coronavirus. The Commonwealth’s response+

  • The Federal Health Department is now accepting applications for grants from its business improvement fund for residential aged care. Small to medium-sized providers with limited access to other financial support (or facing significant financial pressures which may impact on care to residents or risk service closure) can apply for grant assistance to improve business operations,+

  • A federal parliamentary inquiry into homelessness in Australia has been suspended because of the present Covid-19 situation. Inquiry chairman Andrew Wallace MP said: “The committee does not wish to add to the stress on community groups, or divert their efforts from responding to Covid-19, by asking for submissions to the inquiry now”. Submissions already provided+

  • The first GP-led rural respiratory clinics to assess patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19-like symptoms opened in Emerald, Queensland on 1 April. The federal government has committed to establishing up to 100 GP-led respiratory clinics around the country as part of it $2.4 billion COVID-19 health package. Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Minister Mark Coulton+

  • The WA state government has allocated $100 million to waive a wide range of licence fees – including statutory planning fees – for small and medium‑sized businesses in COVID-19 impacted industries for the next 12 months. The measure is one of a number contained in a$1 billion COVID-19 economic and health relief package unveiled on+

  • With many communities and businesses having been heavily impacted by drought, bushfires and now the Covid-19 pandemic, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is highlighting the importance and value of local councils using Australian Business Register (ABR) data in their responses. ABR data can help in: identifying restricted and/or essential businesses that require support in your+