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  • Are journalists about to return to country council chambers? The Federal Government has thrown the regional media a much needed lifeline – and there was more good news for the sector this week. Further details of the $50 million package to support public interest journalism were announced and the sale of Australian Associated Press (AAP)+

  • “What’s the drift, tell me what’s a’happening!” Regional population growth is more than a song line, it’s actually happening. Demographers, commentators, and economic forecasters are suggesting that arresting the drift to big cities and achieving sustained growth in the regions is not just attainable but perhaps even inevitable. The evidence seems to back them up.+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • ALGA’s firm advocacy both behind the scenes and via the media has ensured bushfire-affected local governments have not been forgotten and will be able to access the Federal Government’s next tranche of money ($650 million) under its $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund, with $448.5 million of this earmarked for the quick delivery of projects+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • Local Governments across the nation are stepping up to the Covid-19 task, but the calls for rate relief, rates freezes, facility closures and plummeting parking and user charges revenue, combined with apparent lack of assistance from JobKeeper, Child Care packages or any other source is tough going for most councils. A string of extraordinary Covid-19+

  • Closures, restrictions, working from home, rate relief, landing fees relief, service cuts, hardship policies, delivery curfews, public health inspections, and even delays to the Federal Budget and questions over FAGs funding – how quickly our world has changed. Yet our communities’ need for help has rarely been higher, nor has the lack of certainty. The+

  • Droughts, bushfires and now a global virus – the need for strong and stable Local Government has never been greater for our communities. The Prime Minister’s recent announcements dramatically underline that Governments at all levels must step up to keep the nation healthy, our businesses solvent and people in jobs. Councils are the most connected+

  • Today I’m attending COAG where the Prime Minister, First Ministers and I, on behalf of our sector, will discuss the issues currently impacting our country. These include bushfire relief, drought, violence against women, mental health, the proposed waste export ban, and the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Bushfire relief has been slow, despite best efforts of governments.+

  • What needs to change, across government and industry, to curb the roughly 1.4 million tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres that we export every year? With the waste export ban drawing nearer – in less than six months for glass and just over a year for mixed plastics – we need practical solutions+

  • This week Infrastructure Australia released its 2020 Infrastructure Priority List, and I’m pleased to say it reinforces the key themes ALGA has been advocating for on behalf of the sector. According to Infrastructure Australia, the list is designed to spark investment and coordinated action from industry and government. They listed the following national initiatives as+

  • It’s my pleasure to announce the first round of guest speakers who will present at the 2020 National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra from 14-17 June. The largest gathering of local government in the country this year takes the theme Working Together for Our Communities. As this past summer has been tough for+

  • Restore our funding to 1%, fix the infrastructure backlog, invest in recycling, improve community resilience and tackle climate change risks. These are a precise of the top five issues raised at this week’s ALGA strategic planning session in Canberra. It was also an opportunity for noting our successes over the past three years. These include+

  • Prime Minister Morrison’s bushfire condolence motion this Tuesday said that the response to the tragic summer bushfires which have affected such a large area across five jurisdictions included “unceasing efforts and close cooperation between state and local governments”. He later noted “the actions of every level of government have been exemplary” and he paid tribute+

  • I want to begin by congratulating two former ALGA Board members for their recognition in the 2020 Australia Day honours. Rae Kingsbury (Perry) AM, who in 2004 became the first woman to serve as President of the Australian Local Government Association, was named a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the+

  • The Australia Day celebrations this long weekend gives us chance to stop and celebrate with our community. Councils will proudly bring their communities together with events like citizenship ceremonies, barbecues, and concerts. We’ll demonstrate community cohesion and resilience, so important as this summer we’ve witnessed terrible bushfires across large swathes of the country, in addition+

  • The worst of the bush fires across the country may be over, at least in the short term, but the recovery and reconstruction is just getting started. Ordinary people from Australia and around the world have donated tens of millions of dollars, there’s an initial $2 billion from the Australian Government, and defence force personnel+

  • Welcome to 2020. I want to express my condolences to people who have lost their loved ones, homes, businesses and animals in the terrible bush fires affecting large parts of Australia in recent weeks and months. The sheer scale of the fires and their destruction has been shocking, and many blazes continue to burn. But+

  • It’s almost the end of the year, and with it the chance for most of us to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Those of us fortunate to be having a break over Christmas and the New Year are thinking of farmers and communities struggling amid the ongoing drought, and also of firefighters across+

  • Road safety is a hot button issue at this time of year,  and on Tuesday I participated in the Deputy Prime Minister’s roundtable on Local Government and road safety, convened in Brisbane and also attended by the Assistant Minister for Road Safety, Scott Buchholz.  There were around 30 participants invited including the LGAQ, elected representatives+

  • This week I’d like to update you on my meetings with Ministers in Parliament House, a day that proved how the last sitting week of the year is an intense and busy time. I had a fruitful discussion with Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, about a range of matters,+

  • Two years ago, I spoke to the federal government about the importance of our work in art and culture at the grass roots, particularly the direct benefits for our communities’ health and well-being and social cohesion. It’s terrific to see our role reflected in a new report, and its call for greater recognition of Local+

  • Around 230 people – some from as far away as northern Western Australia, Arnhem Land and Hobart – gathered at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills to hear the latest from Australia’s best in automation, electric trucks, road construction, road funding, safety and transportation technologies. It was terrific to hear insights from our guest speakers, great+

  • This week has been National Recycling Week, a chance for councils across Australia to highlight the major role local government plays in dealing with the country’s waste challenges and opportunities. Some held tours of waste transfer and recycling facilities, or promoted the range of recycling services they offer, or will be introducing, or explained the+

  • There are just 10 days left until we welcome delegates to the 2019 National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hahndorf in my home state of South Australia. Around 250 people from around Australia will join us for three days of discussions about the latest developments and trends involving local roads and bridges, traffic management+

  • Local Government will have a role to play in the development of an Indigenous voice to the Government, following moves this week by the federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Ken Wyatt. Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was released in 2017, Indigenous Australians have called for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.+

  • This week, on your behalf, I was in Canberra for more meetings with Commonwealth Ministers about drought relief, grants, population and settlement, recycling and disaster mitigation. I thanked Mark Coulton, the Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, for the Commonwealth’s earlier round of drought relief, which local councils welcomed, and stressed the need+

  • This week I want to discuss poverty and drought, and the vital role Local Government plays in trying to reduce both. Local Government could say that scourges like poverty and drought are caused by external factors, for others to deal with, but should we? Anti-Poverty Week, which concludes tomorrow, is an annual assessment of the+

  • The annual Stay Smart Online Week draws to a close tomorrow, and this is an opportunity for councils to take stock of their online security measures, and also consider the menace of cyber bullying of councillors and staff. The Commonwealth Government says almost one in three Australian adults fell victim to a cybercrime in 2018,+

  • This edition I want to highlight how local councils around Australia proudly invest in their local communities’ art and cultural sectors. You only need to look at a council’s homepage or its social media presence to see how much we celebrate our artists, festivals and other cultural activities that help define our communities. These activities+

  • There have been many issues affecting regional and rural Australia on which ALGA has been advocating in recent months – jobs, visas and drought assistance. Some three quarters of Australia’s local governments are in rural, remote or regional areas of Australia, with many local governments actively trying to attract and retain workers and residents in+

  • This week I want to give thanks to the many councils and communities across Australia who have rallied in difficult circumstances in the face of weather extremes. The continuing drought across much of the eastern seaboard has been compounded by dozens of bush fires across northern NSW and southern Queensland during the first few weeks+

  • It’s just over nine weeks until our National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hahndorf in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, only half an hour from downtown Adelaide. Registrations are already up on last year, indicating the joint metro and regional focus is hitting the mark. If you haven’t already registered, I encourage you to do+

  • Each year the Federal Government provides billions of dollars to councils across Australia to help them deliver services and infrastructure for their local communities, and by far the largest amount is provided under the Financial Assistance Grants program (FAGs). ALGA’s Fairer Share campaign is aimed at ensuring councils receive a fairer share of federal funding+

  • I was pleased to participate in a memorable second meeting of the Joint Council on Closing the Gap last week in Adelaide. There can be few more pressing tasks than reducing the differences in life span, health, housing and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians – and local government has a key role to play.+

  • This week’s 4 Corners investigation, ‘Cracking Up’, shone a national spotlight on shoddy apartments and building certifications across Australia. We saw problems with buildings such as Opal Tower and Mascot Towers in Sydney with cracked walls and foundations and forced residents to flee, while frustrated owners showed their leaking apartments in Canberra and Melbourne. I+

  • After over a year of calling for national leadership and months of arguing at various ministerial councils on your behalf, ALGA achieved a major breakthrough at COAG last Friday with Prime Minister Morrison and all First Ministers agreeing to join us in the fight against waste, to boost recycling, and to do it onshore. The+

  • Last week on your behalf I attended the meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council in Adelaide, at which a major focus was road safety. Road safety is a vital issue for local government, as we are the owners and managers of over 75% of Australia’s roads by length. Some 52% of all casualty crashes+

  • It’s commendable to see so many councils sharing what they do, such as this animation from Shoalhaven City Council (NSW) about the 40 beaches they manage, or this from Bathurst Council in central western NSW which highlighted a local theatre group. On Tuesday 6 August, join them and other councils to make #PartOfYourEveryday trend nationally+

  • Communities across Australia are either currently facing drought, tentatively recovering from it, or have been affected by it in the past. With climate change we are advised to expect more frequent and harsher droughts. Consequently the passing of the Future Drought Fund legislation through Parliament was important for local governments. The fund will be for+

  • Local councils are at the forefront of community efforts to tackle Australia’s worsening housing affordability and homelessness challenges. While people sleeping rough on the street in our capital cities is of course a problem, our communities in rural, regional and remote Australia are also responding to housing challenges including lack of affordable housing, or overcrowding.+

  • Water security and reliability is again in the national headlines following the ABC TV Four Corners report into the Murray Darling Basin, and the Federal Government decision to wind up the Drought Task Force and fold it into the Department of Agriculture. ALGA has expressed its concerns to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet+

  • This week I’ve been in Canberra, advocating on your behalf to some of the new ministers in the second Morrison Ministry. I appreciated being able to again see Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, the Hon. Mark Coulton MP, so soon after our National General Assembly for Local Government, which the Minister generously+

  • As the Australian economy continues to slow and the global outlook remains uncertain, local government is ready to step up and play its part with infrastructure projects. In recent weeks, the heads of both the Reserve Bank and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development have highlighted infrastructure investment as a way of+