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  • Advocating for you. Thank you to the Shadow Minister for Local Government, Jason Clare MP, and Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Andrew Giles MP, for their time this week to consider what Australian local governments need to thrive into the future. On your behalf, in a likely Federal Election year, we look forward+

  • This week, it was a pleasure to visit Mayors and elected members from the Albury, Greater Hume, Wagga Wagga, Temora Shire, Lachlan Shire, and Federation councils to better understand the challenges local government is facing. With global waste bans looming, we’re focused on getting results for you to enable to you manage waste and recycling.+

  • This week, I joined Mayors from across Australia to honour the life of legendary Mayor Lilliane Brady OAM at her state funeral in Cobar. Her many contributions to local government over 40 years were inspirational and will not be forgotten. Vale. The importance of ALGA being a full member of the new streamlined system of intergovernmental ministerial forums (including National+

  • Your ALGA Board was hard at work this week holding strategic planning sessions to ensure we are doing all we can to deliver results for Australian local governments – now and into the future. ALGA does much on your behalf – advocating, contributing to policy development, and serving as a respected member of many interjurisdictional+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • 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+

  • This is my final contribution to ALGA News as your President with my four-year term expiring today. I’ll miss it, and you. But as I look back there is so much to celebrate and to look forward to. Firstly, it has been an honour and a privilege to be the lead advocate for the local+

  • Those who have read the bushfire royal commission’s final report would probably agree it is a compelling document from which the local government sector can take some comfort – except for what it missed. Although the report is cogent, it could – and should – have been broader in its perspectives, stronger in its language,+

  • The call for Australians to acquire new skills or train for completely new roles has become louder in recent months – and it has created opportunities for us. Covid-19 is the reason federal and state governments are talking up the need for greater flexibility and skills development – particularly at the vocational level – and+

  • With even Tasmania and Queensland border controls easing, infection numbers falling, bushfire recovery underway, and drought still with us but in fewer places, it’s time to turn our minds to creating a brighter future. Talk has begun about how we can make Australia a better place post-Covid – it is an important conversation and a+

  • The Commonwealth’s support for, and regulation of, regional aviation – always a vexed matter for airport-owning councils – is up for serious discussion. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications published an issues paper this week suggesting the Federal Government will consider: Reducing the regulations to encourage greater competition and local investment; Greater+

  • Tuesday’s Federal budget was one that brought home the bacon for local government. An extra $1 billion for local infrastructure, new money ($2 billion) for road safety initiatives, and council access to a wage subsidy scheme worth $1.2 billion to employ new apprentices and trainees. Over and above those big-ticket items, there were many other+

  • Great news! The Federal Government has ticked a lot of ALGA’s calls for partnership funding this week, building on the well-received $500 million stimulus fund already rolling out around the nation’s councils. More specifically, our calls for targeted road funding to eliminate more safety and freight productivity black spots, to replace or upgrade substandard bridges,+

  • National Cabinet had two jobs: fight Covid-19 and fight for the economy. Big ticks for item one, but how about the economy, and jobs? There is one obvious sector that needs help. Tourism, and the local communities that depend upon it, have been badly affected. This is particularly true for those geared for international tourists.+

  • It has been nearly eight months since I toured bushfire-affected local governments in NSW with LGNSW President Linda Scott, and my impressions of that time remain vivid. We saw councils doing extraordinary things for and behalf of their communities – helping coordinate fire-fighting response, providing equipment to the NSW Rural Fire Service, opening major evacuation+

  • Australia is in recession and about two million Australians are out of work. If we really care about our communities, what is the role of Local Government in driving recovery? And why? The “why” is obvious. Those two million Aussies are our locals. They are our first-jobbers, family-starters, mums and dads, the middle-aged, the “wiser+

  • The first major bushfire of the 2020-21 season occurred on Monday near Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, reminding us that bushfires wait for no-one, let alone the outcome of a Royal Commission. Ironically, the Trewantin fire took hold the day before the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements published its interim report – “mindful of the+

  • Are you ready to play an even greater role? Last week, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe provided National Cabinet with an economic update which will have a direct and important bearing on our local government sector. Dr Lowe told first leaders that jobs and unemployment are the biggest economic challenge Australia faces during Covid-19, and+

  • How different would it have been had local government had been represented at National Cabinet meetings when discussions turned to border closures? Completely, I would argue. The substantial risk that comes from sidelining local community voices has been exposed in recent media reports of anomalies arising from Covid-19 border restrictions. One story centred on a+

  • If plastics were radioactive we would pay more attention to their half-lives. Even the CSIRO have set an ambitious new mission to “end plastic waste”. If only it wasn’t such a useful material! Plastic has transformed everyday life, being easy to manufacture, durable, strong for its weight, and resistant to shock, corrosion, chemicals, and water.+

  • Over 116,000 Australians – more than the population of the city of Ballarat – were estimated to be homeless on Census night in 2016. Can Local Government help? That figure is almost certainly higher now, with key drivers of homelessness like unemployment and domestic violence having spiked dramatically during the Covid-19 pandemic. With stage four+

  • It is a rare privilege to have signed such an important agreement on your behalf. The new Closing the Gap partnership, signed by the Commonwealth, the states and territories, and the Australian Local Government Association on Monday, has been hailed as a new chapter in the national effort to reduce Indigenous disadvantage. It sets new+

  • Coastal councils are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place when it comes to rising sea levels and storm-related coastal erosion. We saw it demonstrated again this week when the Central Coast Council – under fire from residents whose beachfront properties had been destroyed or damaged by a severe storm the previous week+

  • Place-based deals have been making headlines these past weeks, all of them positive, all of them reinforcing the key role Local Government plays in shaping our economy. The mayors of Albury and Wodonga have signed a statement of intent to develop a Regional Deal based around the two Murray River cities, and new annual reports+

  • The war on waste is proving to be a protracted affair, like any war, but this week’s announcement of $190 million in Commonwealth funding to create a new Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) is significant in several ways. Besides tipping $190 million into the RMF, the Federal Government is providing $35 million to implement the National+

  • 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+

  • 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.+

  • My column this week comes at a time of reflection for us as individuals and as community service providers. Today marks the end of a week which has included Easter and Anzac Day, events of great religious and national significance which have been celebrated and commemorated in local communities right across Australia. Councils and elected+

  • This week, ALGA News is coming to you a day earlier than usual because of the Easter break and I expect that many Australians will be taking the opportunity for an extended break over the Easter/Anzac Day period. This period also coincides with school holidays in the majority of states and territories and so people+

  • The Federal Election and our call to action is now upon us. To assist, the ALGA Board has authorised campaign materials for your immediate use to help you win a Fairer Share for your local community. ALGA has worked with state and territory local government associations to develop materials for use by every council in+