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ALGA News archive 2017
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22 December 2017
Let locals drive regional development: Productivity Commission
COMMONWEALTH attempts to generate regional economic development have been largely a waste of money, the Productivity Commission says.
A flash flood advisory service for councils
THE BUREAU OF Meteorology is promoting a recently developed service intended to support Local Government develop fit-for-purpose flash flood warning systems.
President's column
MALCOLM TURNBULL's ministerial reshuffle this week has ensured that 2017 ends not with a whimper but a bang loud enough to be heard throughout the Local Government sector.
15 December 2017
Cities framework 'will drive better policies'
THE LIVEABILITY, productivity and progress of 21 of Australia' s most populous cities can now be compared and contrasted for the first time.
Future CDP arrangements up for debate
THE TURNBULL Government will consider simplifying the Community Development Program and giving remote communities more say in how it's run.
President's column
AS CHRISTMAS approaches and we start thinking about family get-togethers and holidays at the coast, it's hard to imagine when there was better time to get behind the wheel of a car.
08 December 2017
Urban water reform a priority: Infrastructure Australia
GOVERNMENTS need to stand aside as owner/regulators of urban water utilities to allow the sector to develop along clearer market-based line, says Infrastructure Australia.
PFAS support package extended to Katherine
PEOPLE living near RAAF Base Tindal in Katherine who have been affected by PFAS contamination are to be offered a Commonwealth health support package.
President's column
ALL OF US crave positive or constructive feedback in our professional and working lives. To actively look for it, however, is to run the risk of being told something that's more damning than helpful.
01 December 2017
Rocky start for NSW Return and Earn scheme
THE NSW Government's Container Deposit Scheme has got off to an uncertain start, with claims that businesses are being hit with high upfront costs.
TasWater to remain in council hands
THE TASMANIAN Government's controversial plan to take over TasWater has been defeated in the State Parliament.
President's column
THERE WAS a clear and compelling theme that emerged from last week's Commonwealth Local Government Forum conference - the importance of self-reliance and initiative.
24 November 2017
Plan to halve food waste by 2030
JOSH FRYDENBERG says the time is right for new innovative technologies, practices and solutions to reduce the mountains of food we throw out every year.
Disaster bill tipped to hit $40b annually
NATURAL DISASTER clean-up costs will rise to nearly $40 billion a year by 2050, even without the impact of climate change, a new report claims.
President's column
WHILST THE nature of the Commonwealth is about how we share common institutional frameworks, there is a great deal of difference between us as I am discovering at the Commonwealth Local Government Association conference in Malta.
17 November 2017
WA councils collect in Smart Cities Program
THE FIRST grants under the Commonwealth's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program were announced this week, with Perth suburban councils prominent in the list of recipients.
A champion for women in Local Government
THERE IS no more energetic or effective advocate for increased female representation on councils than Ruth McGowan.
President's column
UNLESS you've experienced road trauma first-hand, it's easy to imagine this is something that happens to other people.
10 November 2017
New safety stipulation on R2R funding
FEDERAL Transport Minister Darren Chester says councils upgrading local roads under the Roads to Recovery program must focus more on improved road safety outcomes.
Valuer-General to take over Victorian land valuations
THE VICTORIAN State Government is legislating to assume responsibility for land valuations presently carried out by councils.
President's column
THE 2017 NATIONAL Local Roads and Transport Congress confirmed for me just how effectively we as a nation are responding to tomorrow's transport challenges.
03 November 2017
Ministerial decisions under a legal cloud
DECISIONS made by Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash while they were the Federal Ministers for Agriculture and Regional Development respectively may yet be challenged in court.
Council trucks stuck on Thornton's narrow streets
THE STREETS of a new Penrith housing estate are so narrow that council trucks have trouble getting in to collect residents' household rubbish.
President's column
NEXT WEEK's National Local Roads and Transport Congress promises to be a rewarding and insightful event and not just because our keynote speakers have ideas and expertise to burn.
27 October 2017
Road funding reform back on the political agenda
NEW ROAD funding arrangements and other efficiency reforms are needed to lift national productivity and boost living standards, says Scott Morrison.
Greater backing for Local Government a priority, says PC
THE PRODUCTIVITY Commission is recommending a renewal of commitment to the concept of effective government, including greater support for Local Government performance.
President's column
ARE YOU AWARE that China is about to become Australia's largest source of tourists? Are our Visitor Information Centres the best way to get them out the big cities to the regions so you we can all share in the benefits?
20 October 2017
How councils can amplify local investment
COUNCILS need to re-evaluate the way they do business and put the customer at the forefront of their planning, one of the big four audit firms has advised.
Queensland's disaster response system get the tick
QUEENSLAND's disaster response system coped well with Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March, an independent review has found, albeit with minor deficiencies such as confusing warnings.
President's column
THE REVIEW of the official response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie confirmed what many Queenslanders probably already knew, which was that this was the best-planned disaster we have ever had.
13 October 2017
Defence comes clean over PFAS contamination
THE DEPARTMENT of Defence has said it will be 'open and transparent' about cleaning up land around air force and army bases contaminated by toxic fire-fighting foams.
Qld Government kiboshes developer donations
THE QUEENSLAND Government is to ban donations from developers to State and Local Government politicians in response to a damning report into council elections in 2016.
President's column
IN ITS MAY Budget, the Turnbull Government unveiled a housing affordability package comprising a mix of fiscal, regulatory and capacity-enhancing measures. What's in it for Local Government?
06 October 2017
CCC calls for Queensland Local Government reform
THE QUEENSLAND Crime and Corruption Commission has recommended reforming the state's Local Government Act after an investigation into irregularities in the 2016 Gold Coast, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Logan council elections.
Balance of NBN roll-out 'should be to the curb'
A PARLIAMENTARY committee inquiring into the National Broadband Network has called for more fibre to be used in the remainder of the roll-out.
President's column
THIS WEEK'S special counter-terrorism meeting of COAG was intergovernmental cooperation at its best: officials, departments, experts and our top representatives cooperating to achieve a vital common objective.
29 September 2017
Where R&D is flourishing in the regions
THE REGIONAL Australia Institute has identified 49 Local Government Areas where research and development activity is comparable to that of the big cities.
Logan City Council goes off-grid
IN WHAT IS believed to be an Australian Local Government first, Logan City Council has commissioned an off-grid solar and Tesla battery storage system to help keep a lid on rising electricity bills.
President's column
AUSTRALIA has one the most unaffordable housing markets in the world and decreasing rates of home ownership as a result. There are increasing levels of rental stress and disadvantage in the private rental sector, too.
22 September 2017
Telcos 'treating local authorities with disdain'
TELECOMMUNICATIONS companies have been accused of installing equipment too close to roads, of digging up local roads to lay cable and not returning them to their original condition, and of overcharging authorities to relocate pits.
PC calls for renewed focus on water reform
THE 2004 NATIONAL Water Initiative remains unfinished business, the Productivity Commission has said, stating further reform is needed if Australia is to manage its dry and highly variable climate and its high population growth.
President's column
EVIDENCE-based policy-making is something governments talk about endlessly but without exhibiting much in the way of follow-through. Take disaster mitigation, for example.
15 September 2017
Calls to limit candidates' campaign spending
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT Association of Queensland wants council election spending capped before scheduled Local Government elections in 2020, arguing this would promote fairer elections and help prevent corruption.
Rates cap crippling smaller councils: MAV
THE MUNICIPAL Association of Victoria (MAV) says small rural councils are struggling to maintain local services and assets as they deal with reductions in state and Commonwealth funding and 2 per cent cap on rate increases.
President's column
Warnings in the Victorian Parliament this week about the financial struggles facing small rural councils should trouble us all. Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) President Mary Lalios gave a gloomy but accurate assessment of smaller councils inability to deal with lower levels of Commonwealth funding and a 2 per cent cap on rate increases.
08 September 2017
Regions 'will embrace decentralisation'
QUEENSLAND Federal MP John McVeigh told Parliament on Monday there is much enthusiasm and capacity in rural and regional Australia to house Commonwealth departments. Mr McVeigh was presenting a regional development and decentralisation Issues Paper prepared by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation.
How Bellingen won a better broadband deal
BELLINGEN Shire Council has negotiated with NBN Co for fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) broadband access to be provided across the board to Bellingen ratepayers and business owners. NBN Co had originally planned for only half the Bellingen township to receive fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) with the other half being provided with FTTC.
President's column
IN AN IDEAL world, councils should be capable of keeping their community infrastructure functional and fit for purpose. And it's crucial that we do because our communities rely upon it. However, our asset base is extensive, our funding base is limited, and 11 per cent of or assets are in poor or very poor condition.
01 September 2017
Relax planning laws to fix housing crisis: CEDA
A MAJOR report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia has recommended that planning restrictions particularly those imposed by local councils be relaxed as a short to medium-term fix for Australia s current housing affordability problem. The Housing Australia report also recommends greater consistency across planning codes, and an increase in housing density.
Dispute over adequacy of NDRRA funding
A FEDERAL Government offer of an additional $38 million to help rebuild cyclone-affected communities in Queensland has been described by Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk as less than half of half [of what] we asked for [and] what's needed .
President's column
Younger Australians aspiring to home ownership, or to affordable housing of any kind, would have had little reason to cheer this week's Housing Australia report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). Nor should Councils rejoice, because the report claims that local government is partially to blame for the steady drop in affordability.
25 August 2017
Key role for Local Government in safeguarding crowded places
Local Government s responsibility for managing the public realm now extends to developing, implementing and regularly testing protective security measures at venues considered susceptible to terrorist attack.
When transport predictions become reality
The global transport industry is on the cusp of a revolution as great as that precipitated by Henry Ford when he made the car accessible to the masses over a century ago. Few dispute this prediction or the inevitability of more productive and competitive transport networks.
President's column
Local Government is expert at designing, operating, and maintaining the public realm so we re pleased the Commonwealth listened to us when preparing its Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism, released on Sunday by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
18 August 2017
President's column
Reflecting the enthusiasm of our communities, Local Government has long been an active participant in seeking to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions - be it generating or purchasing green energy, downsizing or electrifying fleet, cutting power use, offering local subsidies, or many other initiatives.
'Urgent need' for Intergovernmental collaboration on disaster mitigation
A Senate committee inquiry into the general insurance industry has recommended that the Federal Government work with the states and territories to reform national disaster funding arrangements, as "a matter of urgency".
Councils 'on notice' over citizenship ceremonies
The City of Yarra Council has been stripped of its authority to stage citizenship ceremonies after voting this week to stop referring to January 26 as Australia Day and to abandon citizenship ceremonies on that day from 2018.
11 August 2017
Proposals a threat to Councils’ planning prerogatives
ALGA has lodged a submission on behalf of Local Government expressing concern over changes to telecommunications carrier powers and immunities laws proposed by the Department of Communications and the Arts.
Proposals a threat to Councils' planning prerogatives
ALGA has lodged a submission on behalf of Local Government expressing concern over changes to telecommunications carrier powers and immunities laws proposed by the Department of Communications and the Arts.
Greater role and recognition for Local Government in biosecurity
An independent report on Australia's biosecurity system has acknowledged the important role of Local Government in protecting Australia from pests, weeds and diseases. The report, Priorities for Australia's biosecurity system, was presented to the Agriculture Ministers' Forum late last month.
04 August 2017
President's column
On Friday last week, I had the privilege of once again attending the regular meeting of Environment Ministers in Melbourne. These meeting highlight the critical importance of collaboration between all levels of government in managing our nation's major environmental challenges. I was particularly interested in some of the waste management issue on the agenda and took the opportunity to highlight the importance of local government involvement in all aspect of the design and management of waste management programs.
Local government puts up 27% of national spend on cultural activities
A new report has been released on cultural funding by government in 2015-16 which estimates that local government spends $1,578.3 million (27%) of the total national spend on cultural activities. The report measured 24 categories across the heritage and arts sectors. The categories included museums, libraries, arts education, archives, music, festivals and film production. The expenditure levels of the local government sector on cultural activities generally reflected the size of the population, with the highly populated states spending more.
Have your say on Health Star Rating System
Interested councils now have an additional two weeks to provide input on the national Health Star Rating (HSR) system, as public consultation has been extended to 17 August. HSR Advisory Committee Chairman, Dr Kevin Buckett, said public consultation, which opened on June 8 2017, was part of a planned five-year review of the system. "Since the consultation period has opened there has been strong interest from stakeholders representing a diverse range of views," Dr Buckett said.
28 July 2017
President's column
Courtesy of the Local Government Association of New Zealand (LGNZ), this week I heard outgoing President Lawrence Yule challenge LGNZ members to be more responsive to modern technologies and engagement methods, and to demonstrate more efficiencies - particularly if the sector rejects further amalgamations as the way forward. He also called on government and the community to recognise that significant infrastructure investment is required, with the only question left unanswered being how it will be paid for - not if, when, or why, only how.
Councils invited to comment on Cities Performance Framework interim report
Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor has invited councils to comment on the National Cities Performance Framework Interim Report. The Interim Report seeks feedback on 50 indicators and data sets chosen to provide a snapshot of cities' performance. The aim is to be able to track the performance of cities across key measures such as jobs and skills; infrastructure and investment; liveability and sustainability; innovation and digital opportunities; governance, planning and regulation; and housing.
2017 Roads Congress - Shaping Transport's Future
One of the biggest challenges faced by councils is providing and maintaining essential physical infrastructure for their communities. This is an endless task that underpins the economic and social life of communities and any delays on this important work would only create a greater burden for the future. Unlike the other levels of government, the value of local government's assets- and the latest ABS figures put the written down value of our non-financial assets at more than $408 billion - greatly exceeds revenue ($42 billion).
21 July 2017
President's column
One hundred and seven resolutions from the NGA were taken under consideration by the ALGA Board this week and covered a range of topics including Financial Assistance Grants, Roads to Recovery and other government grant programs, freight improvements, rate-capping, cost-shifting, community infrastructure funding, affordable housing, preventative health, migration and settlement, climate change and the environment. One of the resolutions considered, and endorsed, by the Board was from Whitehorse City Council in VIC calling on the federal government
$65 million to champion community cohesion
Council are among the organisations eligible to apply for more than $65 million in funding to help build inclusive and resilient communities. The Minister for Social Services Christian Porter opened the Strong and Resilient Communities (SARC) grants round this week to help local organisations overcome disadvantage and build strong and safe communities and increase national security. "These grants will provide organisations working in disadvantaged areas with $45 million to help increase social cohesion in areas of high cultural diversity
Save the date: Local Government Twitter Day on 1 August
Councils are being encouraged to save the date for another Local Government Twitter Day which will this year be held on 1 August. The aim of the day is to showcase the diverse range of council services with the Twitter community and to increase awareness of the important work that local government does. The day will be led by a coalition of every local government peak body in Australia, as well as ALGA, the national peak body.
14 July 2017
More action needed to protect vital infrastructure corridors
Infrastructure Australia has launched a new policy paper calling on Australian governments to act to protect vital infrastructure corridors and avoid cost overruns, delays and community disruption when delivering new infrastructure. The third paper released as part of Infrastructure Australia's Reform Series, Corridor Protection: Planning and investing for the long term, shows that protection and early acquisition of just seven corridors identified as national priorities on the Infrastructure Priority List
Taxable payments reporting for local government
Taxable payments reporting for local government entities started on 1 July 2017. This means that councils need to be collecting information about payments they make to businesses for services so they are ready to report to the ATO their 'taxable payments annual report'. The information reported to the ATO will be used in the ATO's pre-filling service to make it easier for individual businesses to lodge their tax returns.
President's column
Infrastructure Australia's (IA) recent paper, Corridor Protection: Planning and investing for the long term, outlines the case for securing and protecting land corridors for future infrastructure projects. They stress that a relatively modest investment today can pay substantial dividends tomorrow. ALGA has always strongly advocated for more integrated transport planning and so we support the report. However, it doesn't stress enough the importance of first and last mile issues we know enable freight to get to its destination
07 July 2017
Local government recommendation in skin cancer report
On 24 March 2015, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on health tabled its report in Parliament, Skin cancer in Australia: Our national cancer. The report made 12 recommendations the prevention and treatment of skin cancers in Australia. The Australian Government tabled its response to the report on 31 May 2017 in the House of Representatives, including to Recommendation 3 which recommends local governments consider providing extended covered (shade) areas over swimming pools.
Connecting Australians: the National Arts Participation Survey
The Australia Council for the Arts has released the findings from the third National Arts Participation Survey. The findings confirm the significant and increasing personal value Australians place on the impact of the arts, and the ways in which they make communities stronger and more cohesive. Some of the key research findings include: > 98% of Australians engage with the arts and since the 2013 survey there is substantially increased recognition of their positive impact on our wellbeing and ability to develop new ideas
President's column
NAIDOC Week has been a great opportunity for councils across the nation to celebrate the links between our ancient past and our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures today which are one of the oldest cultures in the world - now that is something worth celebrating! Many councils have taken the lead to actively engage with their local Indigenous and non-Indigenous community groups to organise a wide variety of NAIDOC Week events
30 June 2017
President's column
I was delighted to receive a letter from the Prime Minister this week reinforcing the importance of the local-federal government partnership and outlining how the Commonwealth's 2017-18 budget will assist at the local level. The Prime Minister was responding to my appeal for the Federal Budget to address the growing income and investment divide between urban and regional areas and prioritise investment in programs and projects that boost the capacity of regional communities, now and into the future.
Nominations for 2017 National Disability Awards Open
The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services has announced that nominations are now open for the 2017 National Disability Awards. Individuals, workplaces, and service providers, who have improved the lives of Australians with disability, are encouraged to submit a nomination for the Awards before 6 August 2017. Mrs Prentice said the Awards seek to highlight the achievements in reducing social discrimination and to bring positive changes for people with disability.
Census reveals we're a fast changing nation
The results of the latest national Census have revealed that Australia is a fast changing, ever-expanding, culturally diverse nation. It has been less than 10 months since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) took the pulse of the nation to find out who we are, how we live, what we do, and where we're headed. The Census has helped update Australia's estimated resident population, which has grown to 24.4 million people by December 31, 2016.
23 June 2017
President's column
This year's State of the Regions report was launched at the RCDF on Sunday and once again provided authoritative evidence of the state of regional development in our country. It highlighted four pillars of growth that are under the influence of Government policies and which must be addressed to drive regional economic development, and local government has a key role to play in developing these plans.
Infrastructure deficiencies to blame for mediocre economies of struggling regions
Infrastructure deficiencies have played a part in making it harder for struggling regions in Australia to increase their productivity, create jobs and improve incomes, the 2017 State of the Regions: Pillars of Growth has found. The report, prepared for ALGA by National Economics, said that improving infrastructure will enable struggling regions to take advantage of their low housing costs and appealing lifestyle choices to attract people and businesses that will expand their local economic base
Liveable communities need functional community infrastructure
ALGA has this week renewed its call for a Commonwealth-funded program to bring community infrastructure back up to scratch and promote economic development opportunities. Council-owned and -managed community infrastructure includes facilities such as public pools, libraries, children's playgrounds, sports fields, youth drop-in centres, bike paths, arts centres and parks. ALGA proposed that a Local Government Community Infrastructure Program of $300 million per annum for four years would ensure communities' most important infrastructure
16 June 2017
President's column
I was thrilled to see so many of our local government champions from around the nation receive accolades for their achievements and contributions in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours List and I extend my personal congratulations to all of them. I'm particularly delighted that former member of the ALGA Board, Mrs Margaret De Wit, received a Medal (OAM) in the General Division. Margaret served on the ALGA Board from 19 July 2012 to 31 March 2016. Margaret also served as President of the Local Government Association of Queensland and Councillor for Brisbane City Council. Congratulations Margaret!
Queen's Birthday honours for local government
The 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours List has once again recognised the time and effort that many exceptional community members have dedicated to their local community through service to local government. We are proud to acknowledge the honours presented to: Companion (AC) in the General Division - > The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Bennett Doyle. For eminent service to the people of Melbourne through roles in local government, to the Parliament of Victoria, particularly in the areas of health and public administration
Mobile Black Spots Round Two - roll out schedules released
Minister for Regional Communications, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, has welcomed the release of indicative rollout schedules for mobile towers being delivered under Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Program. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have all now released indicative rollout schedules on their websites. All 266 Round 2 base stations, contracted under agreements signed with the Australian Government through the Mobile Black Spots Program, are expected to be delivered by October 2018.
09 June 2017
President's Column
Today, I am representing you at the 44th meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Hobart, advocating for the local government sector on important national strategic issues such as public infrastructure investment, progress on Indigenous affairs, and national security and community safety, among others. Recent events have once again reminded us that terrorism is a challenge being faced across communities and jurisdictions not just around the world, but also here in Australia.
Western Sydney City Deal on track for 2017 delivery
A roundtable of eight Western Sydney councils has confirmed a Western Sydney City Deal is on track for delivery in 2017. Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, and NSW Minister for Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, recently co-chaired a meeting of mayors and general managers from Sydney's west and southwest districts. Discussions focused on delivering better outcomes for a City Deal region expecting 500,000 additional residents by 2036.
Current and future impacts of climate change on housing, buildings and infrastructure
On 9 May 2017, the Senate sought an inquiry into the current and future impacts of climate change on housing, buildings and infrastructure from the Environment and Communications References Committee. The Terms of Reference for the inquiry are broad and wide ranging, accounting for the full range of projected climate scenarios, and include the impact of the effects of climate change on:
02 June 2017
President's column
Tomorrow's communities will be shaped by the ambition and drive of their people, and by the investments our governments make in their people, the infrastructure they rely on, and the places they live and work. The theme of this year's National General Assembly (NGA) "Building Tomorrow's Communities" goes to the heart of the role of local government in modern Australia. Key presentations will address how councils, often working in partnership with other levels of government
Calling for council participation in State of the Assets project
Since 2012, the National State of the Assets (NSoA) project has reported the value, performance and management of local government infrastructure assets across Australia. The project, in which 70% of councils across Australia initially participated, commenced with the collection of roads and bridges data. The subsequent 2014 NSoA report was formally presented to the Federal government. In 2015, the report was expanded to include all other key asset groups for which local government is typically responsible.
Reconciliation - Let's take the next steps
Councils across Australia have this week held a range of events and activities celebrating National Reconciliation Week, from 27 May to 3 June and themed "Let's take the next steps". This year's National Reconciliation Week also coincides with two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey: the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court. More than 150 councils also received funding from the Commonwealth to work in partnership with
26 May 2017
President's column
This year's Reconciliation Week is of great significance to all of us as it will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision and the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum - major milestones in Australia's modern history and reflecting its ancient past. Every year, between 27 May and 3 June, commemorations and celebrations take place across the country honouring our First Australians as well as acknowledging the often difficult relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Hear from Fiona Nash at the Regional Forum
This year's Regional Cooperation and Development Forum will be held on Sunday 18 June at the National Convention Centre, Canberra. The forum allows for the sharing of ideas through a mix of academic and practitioner insights, and is the official venue for the launch of the annual State of the Regions Report. This year's forum offers councils the opportunity to engage directly in the regional development conversation:
Road safety to be prioritised in Roads to Recovery funding
The 7th meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council was held in Brisbane recently, with attendance from Transport, Infrastructure and Planning Ministers from the Commonwealth, states and territories, and ALGA. During the meeting, Ministers noted that the Commonwealth is preparing a Statement of Expectations for local governments relating to the prioritisation of road safety in the use of funds from the Roads to Recovery Program.
19 May 2017
President's column
For too long, regional development policy in Australia has been fragmented, contentious and subject to short-term commitments based on limited data and information. ALGA has welcomed the Government's announcement this week of its policy for regional, rural and remote Australia - Regions 2030: Unlocking Opportunity. ALGA also welcomed the announcement a few weeks ago of the release of the Productivity Commission's initial report on Transitioning Regional Economies. The Productivity Commission has produced an impressive report in the limited time it has had to investigate this complex matter. I am hopeful this a positive sign that the strategic context for developing future policy and programs
One month to go until the NGA
ALGA's annual National General Assembly of Local Government is the chance each year for councils to make their voice heard in Canberra. With just a month to go before the NGA is formally opened by the Governor-General on Monday 19 June, councils that have not yet registered to attend the NGA still have time to do so. By attending the NGA, your council will have the opportunity to influence local government's national agenda by engaging with Federal politicians, representing your councils and communities in Canberra
Government launches policy for rural, regional and remote Australia
Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, has launched the Government's policy for rural, regional and remote Australia: Regions 2030: Unlocking Opportunity. The Regions 2030 statement outlines the government's vision for regional Australia and the key initiatives helping to achieve that vision through investment and activity across five areas: 1 jobs and economic development 2 infrastructure 3 health 4 education 5 communications. Senator Nash said that Australia's regions power Australia's economy.
12 May 2017
Vice President's column
The Federal Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, handed down the 2017-18 budget this week, and it was a good result for local government. Firstly, the Government delivered on its promise to resume indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), which will return from 1 July 2017. This follows a hard-fought campaign by the sector since the introduction of the freeze in 2014-15. Motions were raised, resolutions were passed, meetings were had, and hundreds of emails were sent fighting for our case - particularly with local Federal MPs.
Councils win as Financial Assistance Grants indexation restored in Federal budget
Councils have applauded the Australian Government's announcement in this week's budget to restore indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) from 1 July 2017 as promised following a tough three-year freeze. According to the Government's own estimates, its 2014 budget move to freeze indexation to FAGs cost local communities more than $600 million worth of services and infrastructure over the three years, with the biggest impact felt by councils in regional and remote Australia.
Federal budget outcomes for regional Australia
On Tuesday, the Australian Government released the Regional Ministerial Budget Statement Regional Australia - Driving Our Economy 2017 18. The statement outlines over 450 budget measures for regional Australia across health, education, employment, defence, infrastructure, telecommunications, agriculture and water resources and other portfolios. Some of the measures include: - an additional $200 million provided to the Building Better Regions Fund to support the construction of community infrastructure and build the capacity of regional areas
05 May 2017
President's column
Next week will see the Federal Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, hand down his second budget and I am as keen as you to see if our Australia-wide campaign to hold the Government to its promise to end the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation has worked. ALGA, with your support and that of your state and territory local government associations, has campaigned relentlessly to ensure the Government honours this promise.
National awards recognise innovative councils
The 2017 National Awards for Local Government category winners have been announced, recognising local government's contributions to regional growth through innovative service delivery projects. Minister for Local Government and Territories, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, said the entries this year were of the highest standard and demonstrate that local leadership can make a real difference. "These are incredible projects directly benefitting communities. From improving road safety through a flood warning system
Funding for innovation in pest animal and weed management
The Australian Government has announced 23 innovative projects to share in $10.5 million to strengthen the management of some of Australia's most significant agricultural pest animals and weeds. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the projects were put forward by universities, state, territory and local governments, research organisations, natural resource management groups and a private company. "The funding will be used to develop technologies such as herbicide spraying devices
28 April 2017
President's column
Australia's prosperity depends on increasing its productivity and that requires long-term commitment to investment in productive infrastructure by all levels of government and across all regions. ALGA was joined today by six other national peak organisations to launch a joint statement urging the Government to invest in more productivity-enhancing infrastructure for the long-term interest of our country. The six organisations included Planning Institute of Australia, National Growth Areas Alliance, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia
United call for productive nation-building
In May 2016, representatives of a number of peak bodies released a Joint Infrastructure Statement calling on all major political parties to commit to facilitating and supporting increased investment, both public and private, in economic infrastructure. Six of these organisations joined ALGA again in a joint statement to urge cross-party support for improved long-term infrastructure planning, action on a funding mechanism to support investment in priority projects, and strengthened Parliamentary oversight of public investment decisions.
Performance Framework for Australia's major cities
The Federal Government is building a National Cities Performance Framework to measure improvements in Australia's largest cities. Addressing the inaugural Cities Reference Group meeting in Sydney this week, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, invited industry leaders, including ALGA, to help develop the framework. "The Performance Framework will bring together important metrics about Australia's largest cities in one accessible online location," Assistant Minister Taylor said.
21 April 2017
President's column
Local Government Minister Senator Fiona Nash's address to the National Press Club this week strongly highlighted the importance of local partnerships, investment and leadership to drive change and development in not just Australia's regions but, by extension, the country as a whole. It is refreshing to hear the Australian Government understands and appreciates that local government's strength lies in our capacity to identify and respond to local needs which are often diverse, complex and changing rapidly in response to evolving domestic and global pressures.
More councils urged to apply for $5k in funding
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, has this week written to councils about the Government's support for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court Decision. Funding is available for councils under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy Culture and Capability Programme to help their communities celebrate National Reconciliation Week 2017 (27 May 2017 to 3 June 2017) and mark the Referendum and Mabo decision anniversaries.
NGA motions - deadline extended
The deadline for motions submissions to the 2017 National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) has been extended to Friday 28 April, giving councils an additional week to submit their motions for the ALGA Board's consideration. The NGA, to be held in Canberra from 18 to 21 June, is an opportunity for individual councils to identify matters of national relevance to the sector and to submit motions to seek the Assembly's support for these matters.
14 April 2017
President's column
Councils have just one week left to access new funding from the Government to help deliver local National Reconciliation Week 2017 celebrations commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court decision. The funding round closes on Friday 21 April 2017. Councils will have the opportunity to use the funding to partner with a local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisation to mark these two historic events
Opposition Leader, Hon Bill Shorten MP, to address NGA
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, has agreed to address this year's National General Assembly of Local Government on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. This week, the Opposition came out in support of ALGA's call to end the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation agreeing that local government funding has been under pressure following the 2014-15 freeze. The party called on the Government to rule out any extension of the FAGs indexation freeze beyond 30 June 2017.
Get your council future-ready
Registrations for the Government's Future Ready series of webinars and masterclasses close on 21 April 2017, with just one week left for interested councils to sign up. Future Ready is a smart cities incubator series that sits alongside the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program and aims to help councils prepare for smart city transformations through learning, collaboration and ideas generation. The series brings together national and international experts, researchers, service and technology providers, governments
07 April 2017
President's column
For many of our communities across the country, natural disasters are a constant threat. The recent and continuing effects of the powerful ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie remind us that our communities require appropriate support to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters where possible, as well as timely support to recover as quickly as possible from those impacts that cannot be avoided. Local government has been a strong supporter of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements
Call for submissions from the Referendum Council
What do you think about a future referendum being held in Australia to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution? The Referendum Council has made a call for submissions on constitutional recognition to continue an open and constructive national conversation about this important issue. The council has released a discussion paper which sets out some of the different options for change and outlines some of the issues to be taken into account.
Around the nation: Financial Assistance Grants indexation freeze impact on Burnie City Council, Tasmania
With Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) remaining at 2014-15 levels following the Government's decision that year of a three-year freeze to the grants' indexation, many councils across the country have felt the pinch. This week, Mayor Anita Dow from Burnie City Council in Tasmania shared the impact that the Government's decision has had on her council, which relied on the grants for seven per cent of its total operational funding.
31 March 2017
President's column
"End the freeze" and "restore indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs)" were the lines I took at a recent meeting with the Federal Local Government Minister, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, at Parliament House in Canberra. I explained to the Minister that the freeze of the indexation to FAGs is estimated to result in a permanent reduction in the grants base by about 13 per cent. This means that even if indexation is restored in 2017-18, the gap will continue to widen
Additional disaster assistance for QLD communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie
Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, and Queensland Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Mark Ryan MP, have announced additional disaster assistance in response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie that has affected eight local government areas. The assistance is being provided through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).
Climate Change Review discussion paper released
The Federal Government has released a discussion paper for public consultation as part of the 2017 review of climate change policies. The discussion paper follows the Government's commitment to review its climate change policies when it set Australia's target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The review aims to ensure the Government's policies remain effective in achieving Australia's 2030 target and Paris Agreement commitments.
24 March 2017
President's column
This week brings with it a timely reflection that local government is in so many ways at the cutting edge of promoting cultural diversity and promoting multiculturalism in our communities. Earlier in the week, the Australian Government reaffirmed its commitment to multicultural Australia with the release of the statement Multicultural Australia: United, Strong and Successful. The statement outlines the strategic direction and priorities for multicultural policy in Australia while emphasising our unique national identity
Are you an elected council member? Please read this...
ALGA is urgently seeking your support to end the freeze on indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) by contacting your federal representative via ALGA's campaign website. ALGA initiated this campaign to ensure the Australian Government honours its commitment to councils and restores indexation to FAGs payments in this year's Federal Budget. At the time of publishing this ALGA News edition, there have been 63 emails sent to federal representatives via the site.
Reminder - Submit your NGA Notice of Motions
Councils are being reminded to submit notices of motions for this year's National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA), which will be held in Canberra on 18 - 21 June. The NGA is an opportunity for councils to identify matters of national relevance to the sector and seek the Assembly's support via notices of motions for these matters to be considered by ALGA as national policy. To be eligible for inclusion in the NGA Business Papers
17 March 2017
President's column
Making our cities, towns and regions smarter, stronger, more efficient and more resilient is a constant focus for local government - but will the decisions and investments of the past be the right ones for the future? Under the theme Building Tomorrow's Communities, delegates at this year's National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) will look at how councils are enhancing their capacity to respond to the new and unforeseen challenges of tomorrow's communities.
Senator the Hon Fiona Nash confirmed to address NGA
Senator the Hon Fiona Nash will address this year's National General Assembly of Local Government on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. Senator Nash is the Minister for Local Government and Territories, Minister for Regional Development and Minister for Regional Communications. The Minister's address at this year's NGA will be the first opportunity for delegates to hear from the minister as the sector's representative in the Federal Government. Delegates will also have the opportunity to receive an update straight from the minister about
Around the nation: Financial Assistance Grants indexation freeze impact on Balonne Shire Council, Queensland
Due to a relatively small rate base, with minimal shift in population and limited opportunities to dramatically increase this rate base, Balonne Shire Council is reliant on government assistance, in particular the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), which makes up an estimated 25% of its annual recurrent revenue. Rural and remote councils in Queensland are facing economic stress through the rural downturn and drought conditions and the decision to freeze the Financial Assistance Grants places further pressures on already stretched resources.
10 March 2017
President's column
International Women's Day this past Wednesday was a chance to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women here and worldwide. Women are amazing, terrific, talented - they rock! So why is it that they don't rule? I don't mean totally, I mean just in the same 50:50 proportions that make up society? Of the three levels of government, ours should be the easiest to get this right, and perhaps provide pathways to other roles too.
The Hon Angus Taylor MP to address NGA
The Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, has confirmed that he will address National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) in Canberra on Wednesday 21 June. The Assistant Minister's portfolio stretches across the whole of government to improve city liveability and tackle long standing issues of traffic congestion, housing affordability and the need to create jobs closer to where people live. Mr Taylor has a focus on regional cities and outer suburban cities.
Announcement to help local communities incubate bright ideas
The Australian Government has announced that it is helping local councils and communities incubate clever technology projects to prepare for a digital future. Councils are invited to register for the Future Ready series of webinars and masterclasses on building smart cities know-how. Launching the series in Brisbane today, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, said Future Ready complemented the Government's $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.
03 March 2017
President's column
ALGA has launched an advocacy website dedicated to the campaign to restore indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) in this year's Federal Budget, and we urgently need your assistance. The campaign website provides a powerful advocacy tool for all councils to contact their federal representatives and seek their support to ensure indexation is restored in the upcoming 2017-18 Federal Budget - and you can complete it in less than five minutes.
Laura Tingle confirmed for NGA 2017
The Australian Financial Review's political editor, Laura Tingle, will address the National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) to be held on 18 - 21 June in Canberra. Laura has reported politics from the Canberra press gallery for almost thirty years, after beginning her career in Sydney reporting on the financial markets and economics. She is the author of Chasing the Future - a book about the recession of the early 1990s
New ALGA campaign website to restore indexation of Financial Assistance Grants
ALGA has launched a new campaign website to restore indexation of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs). The simple website allows councils to join ALGA's campaign by contacting their local Federal MPs via the site. With a template already written up, this powerful contribution from councils will take less than five minutes. Mayor David O'Loughlin, ALGA President, has urged all councils to get behind the campaign.
24 February 2017
President's column
Early last week the ALGA CEO and I met with six Federal Ministers and Shadow Ministers on behalf of the sector and our message was the same with every one of them - end the freeze, restore indexation of the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), and work with us to improve community safety, productivity and prosperity across the nation. We received a warm reception, but that doesn't mean we have their firm commitment in hand. We want the Government to work with us, as genuine partners, in supporting our communities at the local level.
Government seeking views on protecting Australia's critical infrastructure
The Government has released a discussion paper, "Strengthening the National Security of Australia's Critical Infrastructure", to seek views on managing the complex and evolving national security risks to Australia's critical infrastructure. The Government is seeking views of stakeholders in relation to the operation of the Government's new Critical Infrastructure Centre, including how an assets register should be developed and maintained to achieve a consolidated picture of critical infrastructure ownership in high risk sectors.
One week left for 2017 National Awards for Local Government nominations
Councils have just one week left to make nominations for the Government's annual awards for innovative local government projects. The National Awards for Local Government celebrate local government projects that are innovative, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and make a meaningful difference. Category winners will be announced in mid-April 2017 and the national winner will be announced at the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly dinner on 20 June 2017.
17 February 2017
President's column
In my President's Column this week, I would like to address an important issue that is facing our sector and that is likely to play out over the coming months. With the Federal 2017-18 Budget to be handed down in May, and no cast-iron guarantee that the Government will reintroduce indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs), it is important for our sector to come together now to lock in the Government's support and commitment to restoring the indexation as signalled in the last Federal Budget.
Call for council motions to 2017 NGA
ALGA is inviting local councils to participate in the 2017 National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) by submitting a notice of motion under the NGA theme of Building Tomorrow's Communities. The NGA, to be held in Canberra from 18 to 21 June, is an opportunity for individual councils to identify matters of national relevance to the sector and to submit notices of motion to seek the Assembly's support for these matters to be considered by ALGA as national policy.
Time running out to apply for Building Better Regions Fund
Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, has reminded local councils and community groups that applications for infrastructure projects under the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) close in two weeks' time. Minister Nash said the BBRF infrastructure stream will invest in projects that drive new investment across rural, regional and remote Australia. "The strongest applications will highlight the economic benefits of the project and show how it will create ongoing jobs and strengthen the local community," she said.
10 February 2017
President's column
Financial sustainability, strengthening regions and cities, safe and productive infrastructure, and innovation will be the four key planks in ALGA's work and advocacy over the coming two years. At the Board's strategic planning workshop this week on the Sunshine Coast all associations were well represented and discussion was lively and positive about the future of local government and our key relationship with the Commonwealth government in block funding, policy development and program funding to achieve mutual objectives.
Progress on Townsville City Deal
Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, the Hon Angus Taylor MP, has welcomed the announcement that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will invest $20 million in the Ross River Solar Farm near Townsville. This investment represents early action on one of the core commitments of the Townsville City Deal: to boost energy productivity and establish Townsville as a leader in renewable energy through CEFC investment. The CEFC's investment will accelerate the development of Australia's largest solar farm
$10m a year to strengthen Indigenous Affairs Strategy evaluation
The Government has announced that it will allocate $10 million a year over four years to strengthen the evaluation of Indigenous Affairs programs. Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said the multi-year program of evaluations would be underpinned by a formal Evidence and Evaluation Framework to strengthen reporting, monitoring and evaluation at a contract, program and outcome level. "The IAS has already greatly improved the transparency and accountability of Indigenous Affairs funding," he said.
03 February 2017
President's column
Next week, the ALGA Board will come together for a two-day strategic planning meeting to review ALGA's strategic plan, discuss the possible implications of Government policies introduced in the past year, and also address a number of other strategic issues. This important meeting will help guide ALGA's ongoing advocacy work with each priority reviewed, clear strategies agreed and new items considered. This meeting is also part of the process of developing an ALGA 2017-20 Strategic Plan and associated action plans.
Registration open for the National General Assembly
Registration is now open for the National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA). Under the theme 'Building tomorrow's communities', speakers, debate and discussions will seek to highlight local government's fundamental role in shaping our communities for today and tomorrow. The discussions will look at how councils, working in partnership with other levels of government, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector, can innovate and harness the ever-increasing range of data and technology to ensure their communities are best-placed to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.
$15.3 million to NDIS projects
The Government is providing a package of more than $15.3 million to help people prepare for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) through the NDIS Sector Development Fund. The Sector Development Fund (SDF) was established to assist the disability sector - including people with disability, their families, carers, services providers and workforce - transition to the new arrangements for disability support under the NDIS. The Hon Jane Prentice, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, said that SDF funding of more than $6 million was for projects in the Northern Territory.
27 January 2017
President's column
Happy New Year! 2017 is well underway and the year ahead looks to be filled with a range of opportunities for local government and Australia. This year the Government will reveal its refreshed regional policy, the outcomes of the Regional Development Australia (RDA) review will be known, new programs announced last year will be implemented, and we will see the current City Deals agreements taking shape around the country.
Strong representation from local government in Australia Day honours
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the Australian of the Year awards on Thursday night in Canberra, with the 2017 Australian of the Year award going to Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, an inspirational scientist and international leader in stem cell research. Local government was strongly represented in the Australia Day honours list through past and present local government councillors and mayors. Those honoured by being made a Member in the Order of Australia (AM) were:
ALGA calls on the Government to deliver on promise in May budget
ALGA has called on the Federal Treasurer the Hon Scott Morrison MP to deliver on the Commonwealth's promise to restore the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) payments in the 2017-18 Federal budget. The Australian Government estimated that the three-year freeze on FAGs indexation introduced in the 2014-15 Federal budget would strip more than $900 million from council revenues over the period up to 2017-18. Mayor David O'Loughlin, ALGA President, said that it is ultimately communities that felt the pain of this freeze

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