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17 Aug 2012

Government seeks comment on aged care criteria

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The newly established Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) is seeking comment on aged care reforms announced by the Australian Government on 20 April, 2012.  Under the reforms, to come into operation on 1 July 2014, the Government will increase the maximum level of the accommodation supplement it pays in respect of care recipients who cannot meet their own accommodation costs.  This increase will apply to aged care homes which have been built or significantly refurbished since the April 2012 announcement.  The maximum supplement will increase from a current maximum of $32.58 per day to an estimated $52.84 per day.

ACFA is currently seeking comment from those involved in the provision of aged care service regarding the definition of the criteria to meet the “significant refurbishment” standard.  A discussion paper has been released to facilitate comment and feedback should be provided to the ACFA.Secretariat@health.gov.au by 31 August, 2012.  

The package of reforms to reshape aged care is contained in Living Longer Living Better, which was substantially informed by the June 2011 report of the Productivity Commission Caring for Older Australians.  The 10 year reform program aims to provide a more flexible system for older people and to give them greater control and choice over the services they require.  The reforms give priority to providing more support and care in the home, better access to residential care, more support for those with dementia and strengthening the aged care workforce.

The Living Longer Living Better website contains a range of materials to explain the changes, including a summary of the Living Longer Living Better reforms, a newsletter, factsheets, and the Interim Operating Framework .

Further information can be obtained from the ACFA Secretariat via ACFA.Secretariat@health.gov.au

NBN Co 2012-15 Corporate Plan reflects changes in project scope

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NBN Co released its second Corporate Plan last week.  The 2012-2015 Corporate Plan incorporates the impact of changes and developments since the delivery of the first Corporate Plan in December 2010.  By 2015, NBN Co plans to complete the transit network, deliver 121 Points of Interconnect and over 650 Fibre Access Nodes, launch two satellites which will commence commercial operation in mid-2015, and rollout the Fixed Wireless network to regions not covered by NBN Co’s Satellite and Fibre networks. 

NBN Co points out that the 2012-15 Plan incorporates the financial impact of the definitive agreement between Telstra and Optus, and that in relation to Optus, the Agreement was entered into after the 2011-13 Plan and the financial impact was not, therefore, included in the first Plan.  It believes the underlying business case has remained fundamentally unchanged, with construction to be commenced on 3.5 million premises by mid-2015, with final completion of the project running 6 months behind schedule, now June 2021, due to delays in finalising the deal to gain access to Telstra’s infrastructure.

The Corporate Plan forecasts an increase of $1.4 billion in capital expenditure and $3.2 billion in operating expenditure, due to changes in the scope of the project, but has also forecast increased revenues in the long term.  Total funding requirements are now expected to reach $44.1 billion by 2021.

The Plan reveals that NBN Co has changed the connection method from “demand drop” to “build drop”, which will automatically connect all premises unless the owner ops out, saying that although this will increase capital expenditure by up to $1.5 million, it will be more cost effective in the long run.  End-users will also now be able to nominate whether they require the battery backup, with NBN Co anticipating that 50 per cent of end-users will elect not to have battery backup, consequently reducing capital expenditure.  Priority Assistance households will be provided with battery backup.  Additional costs experienced with connecting Multiple Premises Units have also led NBN Co to factor in additional costs.

Although conceding that capital costs and operating costs had blown out, NBN Co maintained that this would be more than offset by forecast increases in revenue after construction had finished, which would drive returns on investment form 7 per cent - 7.1 per cent.  NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley responded to media questions by saying that NBN Co’s task was to get wholesale prices down as fast as possible to allow a platform where competition could prosper.

The Corporate Plan is available here.

State of the Local Road Assets Report: phase one begins

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ALGA has commissioned Jeff Roorda and Associates (JRA) to develop the first State of the Local Road Assets Report which will build on the critical work undertaken in 2010 that looked at the gap in funding for local roads.  This new Report will form the technical base for continued advocacy for increased government funding for local roads into the future.   It is expected to provide a clearer picture about the state of our local road assets in terms of their condition, functionality and utilisation.  The Report will be launched at the 2012 National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hobart in November. 

More than 60 urban and non-urban councils have nominated through their State and Territory Associations to participate in phase one of the work that is required to produce the State of the Local Road Assets Report this year.   Each of these councils will be receiving the material required to participate in phase one of the work over the next few days.  This includes, among other things, a short questionnaire to capture the required information electronically.  

The focus for phase one will be on sealed and unsealed local roads, concrete bridges and timber bridges using a community service level (good/poor/very poor) reporting framework.  Subsequent phases of the work will begin to capture data on other assets (e.g. regional airports) across all councils. 

The State of the Local Road Assets Report will play an important role in terms of our understanding of the state of our local road assets and shaping our future advocacy on councils' behalf.  The findings will help to inform our position in relation to both the new National Heavy Vehicle Regulator regime that is expected to take effect from 1 January 2013 and the work associated with the Heavy Vehicle Charging and Investment project that is proceeding under the auspices of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) road reform agenda. 

Under the new National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) regime, councils, as the designated ‘road manager’ will be required to give their consent for the Regulator to authorise access to   heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes.  The NHVR Project Office is currently developing a set of Ministerial guidelines that road managers must  adhere to when making access decisions.  ALGA will be working with state associations and the NHVR Project Office to ensure these guidelines meet the needs of local government. 

JRA is well known to most councils through their work for ALGA and other key groups.  JRA has been undertaking on-site audits over the last few months of councils in Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria to test the take up of the National Asset Management Framework (NAMF).

President's Column

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As my home state of New South Wales swings into election mode ahead of the local government polls on 8 September, I thought it timely to highlight the benefits that women can bring to councils, particularly in leadership roles.

It’s no secret that in order for councils to be successful, they need to be representative of their communities.  This presents a problem when women continue to be under-represented in local government, both as council members and within senior staffing positions.

Nationally, 45 per cent of the local government workforce is made up of women and only 20 per cent of these women are in professional positions.  In New South Wales, just over a quarter of our councillors are women.

After 17 years in local government and having served four terms as North Sydney Mayor, I have decided that I will not be standing for re-election next month.  While this has been a difficult decision to make, I’m happy to pass on the reins to a new generation.  In my own council area, the race for the position of Mayor is between three women, with many women also nominating for councillor positions.  I think the North Sydney electorate is extremely lucky in this regard.

I would like to encourage women to seriously consider a career in local government and I would also urge councils to invest in strategies for attracting women to the sector.  A lot of work has been done to make information available about local government processes and the role of councillor.  The Australian Local Government Women’s Association recently developed a program - 50:50 Vision, A national Program for Gender Equity in Local Government - which is designed to help councils achieve diversity.  A brochure - Stand For Your Community, Be A Councillor - has also been developed by the NSW Government to encourage women and other under-represented groups to think about standing for election.

I hope that more women across the country will nominate for local government elections this year but for future reference, there is information about the national program for gender equity at www.algwa.net.au and the brochure to inform women and other under-represented groups to think about standing for election can be found at www.dlg.nsw.gov.au


Mayor Genia McCaffery
ALGA President

Councils campaign for more women

In Victoria, a state-wide campaign is aiming to get more women to stand as candidates for council in October’s local government elections.

The Victorian Government funded “Think women for local government 2012” campaign hopes to get women to stand as candidates in 90 per cent of wards in the Victorian council elections.

Gannawarra Shire is one of five Victorian councils currently without any women councillors. Campaspe and Moira shire councils each have three females among their nine councillors. These include Moira Shire Mayor Alex Monk.

Victorian Local Governance Association president Samantha Dunn, whose association is leading the campaign, said women brought different experiences and a promise of better diversity to city and shire halls.

‘‘Women might make up 51 per cent of Victoria’s population but were only 29 per cent of local councillors across 78 different municipalities,’’ Cr Dunn said.

‘‘Numbers actually went down at the 2008 elections and no women stood in a quarter of wards and subdivided municipalities.”

Cr Dunn, who is serving her second term at Yarra Ranges Shire, said many women were involved in local issues and organisations and did not realise they already had the necessary personal skills and knowledge to be effective councillors.

‘‘Some women I’ve spoken to doubt they have the skills to do it, but many come from a kindergarten or a school committee and those are the things that give you the skills you need,’’ she said.

‘‘I say if you can handle a household you can handle this.’’

Nominations for Victorian council elections will be open from September 20 to 25, with the election to be held on October 27.

Campaspe Shire has produced a booklet to help anyone thinking of standing for council.

It can be found on the shire’s website at www.campaspe.vic.gov.au

Fact sheets released for home building and home contents insurance policies

Severe flooding in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in 2010-11 highlighted the large number of people affected by the floods who held inadequate insurance cover and high level of confusion over the extent to which policies provide cover for flood and what cover for flood means. 

On 15 April 2012, the Insurance Contracts Amendment Act 2012 - which provides a legislative framework to allow regulations to require insurers to provide consumers with a one page key fact sheet for home building and home contents insurance policies - received Royal Assent.

The Hon Bill Shorten MP, the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, has now released an exposure draft of the Insurance Contracts Amendment Regulation 2012 (No.2) which will amend the Insurance Contracts Regulations 1985 to require an insurer to provide a consumer with a one page fact sheet for home building and home contents insurance contracts.

The fact sheet aims to reduce consumer confusion about what is included in insurance contracts and provide consumers with a mechanism to compare the key aspects of insurance contracts.

Interested parties are now invited to comment on the consultation papers.

Closing date for submissions: Friday, 24 August 2012

Address written submissions to:

Manager
Financial Services Unit
The Treasury
Langton Crescent
PARKES ACT 2600

Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee

At its last meeting of 25 July, 2012, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) welcomed New Zealand’s move from a long-term observer to a member of the National Emergency Management Committee (NEMC) to ensure the closest possible coordination and cooperation on emergency management issues.  COAG also noted NEMC’S revised terms of reference and change of name to the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC).  The ANZEMC Secretariat will update all references to the Committee in the coming weeks. 

Latest Australian airport survey results released

The number of car parking spaces at Australian airports has increased, as has the rate charged for airport parking, according to new research from Knight Frank.

The National Comparison of Airport Parking & CBD Daily Rates report suggests that while the cost of airport parking has increased, CBD parking rates are still higher across east coast markets.

 

Average daily CBD casual rate

Daily airport rate

Sydney

$72.50

$56

Brisbane

$67.80

$52

Melbourne

$65

$54

Perth

$33.50

$38

Adelaide

$23.50

$30

Hobart

$21

$16

Darwin

$5

$20

 
The majority of major Australian airports are either currently, or have recently completed, car parking expansions:
  • Sydney Airport will open a new 2800-bay international car park in August.
  • Brisbane has recently completed a new 5000-bay, multi-level facility at the domestic terminal.
  • Adelaide is currently developing a multi-level car park, due for completion in September, providing 1600 public bays adding to the existing 830.
  • Canberra’s terminal has been upgraded to provide two covered facilities of 1200 bays with a further two open car parks at 450 spaces each (total: 3300 bays).
  • Perth’s terminal expansion project will see the addition of a new multi-storey car park in 2014.
  • Darwin currently has 624 bays at its short term car park with an additional 160 bays planned.

Melbourne has future plans for two new car parks providing up to 6000 bays.

Council wants mining company to invest in local community

A southern Queensland council says it will only allow Xstrata Coal to develop a coal mine if it funds $100 million worth of local projects.

Xstrata is seeking state approval to develop what would be the Southern Hemisphere's biggest open-cut coal mine at Wandoan.

Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown says it will have an enormous impact on the local community and the company must pay.

"A lot of that funding in that deed agreement is for roads, major infrastructure and moving of roads," councillor Brown said.

"But obviously water, sewerage [and] waste all factored into that.

"We've come to a very good arrangement with Xstrata and that deed's back with Xstrata at the moment to look at and certainly this is what sort of impact that will be occurring in that town."

Conference discusses strengthening local government revenue

ALGA attended a conference hosted by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) in Melbourne last Friday to discuss local government revenue and capacity.  The conference was the start of a consultation and research process that will culminate in the release of working paper in November 2012.

Attendees discussed key themes such as the long term fiscal outlook for governments, responses to tax reform proposals such as the Henry Review, alternative streams of own-source revenue for local government, improvements to rating systems, and the potential for revenue sharing across the sector.

While the research is in the initial stages, it was agreed that a comprehensive range of measures will be required to address the issue of the ongoing strength of local government revenue.

The conference aimed to explore the findings of local government reviews, contextual research, and analysis of local governments’ financial performance and capacity.  It also considered responses that may be warranted by all three spheres of government.

The event was facilitated by ACELG Director Graham Sansom and leading local government expert, John Comrie.  Organisations represented included local government associations, local government finance professionals, plus councils, universities, consulting firms and individuals.

The project’s working paper (due at the end of November) will draw together available information and research to develop a sound evidence base and fresh ideas that can inform forums and discussion taking place in policy making circles around Australia about local government revenues and capacity. This will cover a wide range of issues concerning property tax and other sources of revenue. The research and paper will coincide with work undertaken by the Independent Local Government Review Panel conducted by the NSW Government later in the year.

The Background Paper by John Comrie is available from www.acelg.org.au

Australia Council for the Arts grants

The Australia Council for the Arts offers a broad range of grants for Australian artists and arts organisations.  In 2010-11, it invested more than $163 million in artists and arts organisations to support Australian artists to make art for Australian and international audiences.

A total of 1,897 grants and projects were funded, including 917 grants to individual artists (emerging, mid-career and established) and 1,085 grants to small, medium and large organisations. The grants covered a wide range of activities including the creation, presentation, publication, performance, and exhibition of artistic works.

The Council funded special programs and initiatives to strengthen the arts sector and develop audiences for Australian art, both nationally and internationally.  Funding was also used by artists to develop new skills, undertake residencies and fellowships, and access domestic and international markets for their art.

There are 50 grant categories and 40 initiatives on offer in 2012. All Australian artists, groups and arts organisations are welcome to apply for grant programs and initiatives.

For more information about the Australian Council for the Arts, click here.

Queensland cities race to win Bolt visit

Two Queensland centres have launched rival social media campaigns to bring the world's fasted man to their shores.

Usain Bolt has indicated he may holiday in Australia next month, prompting Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to hatch a plan to lure him to the south east.

Gold Coast Tourism (GCT) has thrown its support behind moves to bring the Jamaican to the city and GCT chief executive Martin Winter says it is a smart move.

"Look, we see this as a brilliant idea for there to be more publicity, especially leading up to the Commonwealth Games," he said.

"Usain Bolt is in the Commonwealth, he'll be coming here one way or another, either running or as an official when it comes around in 2018.

"We're right behind the council and right behind the mayor with this great initiative."

Member for Cairns Gavin King says the far north is also lobbying the dual gold medallist to book a flight to their region.

"I don't think it's about who hatched the plan first, I think it's about who does the plan best," he said.

"We've got a sensational campaign plan and the Gold Coast can try to claim any credit it likes - we're firmly focussed on the finish line."

Mr King says they will appeal to Bolt's musical tastes.

"One of the aces up our sleeve is that in early September our great city hosts the fantastic reggae town festival so not only can he visit the Great Barrier Reef and hang out with a croc, he can also chill out with some awesome reggae music."

SCOA sports and settlement discussion paper released

The Settlement Council of Australia has released a discussion paper on sports and settlement.  Given the recent international focus on sports and the Olympics, SCOA wanted to add the voice of the settlement sector, and the work that of the many diverse migrant and refugee communities, to the national conversation on sports in Australia.   

The discussion paper provides a useful blend of discussion and recommendations.  It recognises that each community has its own needs in relation to sports, and that these vary across states and towns. These differences impact on sporting programs, and requirements to support full inclusion in sports. 

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) is the national peak body representing migrant and refugee settlement agencies across Australia.

The discussion paper can be found here.

Riverprize finalists announced

Riverprize is the world's most prestigious environmental award, giving recognition, reward and support to those who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river management.

International RiverFoundation awards the Thiess International Riverprize and the Australian Riverprize (funded by the Australian Government's Water Smart Australia program, under the Water for the Future initiative) annually at the Riverprize Gala Dinner, as part of the International Riversymposium.

Thiess International Riverprize finalists
The International RiverFoundation (IRF) has announced the finalists of the 2012 Thiess International Riverprize (in alphabetical order):

  • Nushagak River (USA),
  • Okavango River (Angola, Namibia and Botswana),
  • Prespa Lakes (Greece), and
  • Willamette River (USA).

Australian Riverprize finalists
International RiverFoundation has announced the finalists of the 2012 Australian Riverprize (in alphabetical order):

  • Condamine River (QLD),
  • Georges River (NSW), and
  • Swan and Canning Rivers (WA).

All the finalists will present during the 15th International Riversymposium in the Riverprize finalists session on Tuesday 9 October.  This will be followed by the announcement of the winners at the 2012 Riverprize Gala Dinner and the winners presentations during the plenary session on Wednesday 10 October.

View the program to better acquaint yourself with where Riverprize will be highlighted during the conference and don't forget to register!

Advertisment

 

“I am thrilled to have brokered this deal - at no cost to the taxpayer,” the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said.

The same contract that Lord Mayor Boris Johnson negotiated for the Tower Bridge can be used to upgrade to energy efficient streetlighting in Australia. The contract is called an Energy Performance Contract and its an excellent vehicle to use for cities to upgrade their public lighting, reducing energy costs, and beautifying the city using the energy savings to pay for the project. 

The Citelum Group, international public lighting operator is in Australia to offer public lighting customers a choice in their public lighting operation. Citelum is here to compete with the traditional monopoly providers of public lighting the Electrical Distribution companies.

“We are based in Victoria as its the only State in Australia with a specific contestability policy on Design, Installation and Maintenance of Public Lighting and we are working through, educating customers, liaising with the MAV on how to bring the benefits of competition to their procurement activities,” said Adam Carey, Managing Director, “Every State is potentially contestable,” he added.

Citelum have expanded the energy performance contract to construct large scale 800kW solar power stations, deploying city-wide municipal wi-fi including the ability to remotely switch and dim each streetlight and beautify city landmarks. In most contracts, these projects are cost neutral to councils.

“Citelum wants customers to dream of the possibilities of what might be achieved when they are given the opportunity,” Adam said.

Contact Citelum Australia on 1300 CITELUM or info@citelum.com.au

ALGA News can be read online each week at www.alga.asn.au/news.aspx
Editor: newscomments@alga.asn.au Tel: 02 6122 9434.
Australian Local Government Association - 8 Geils Court, Deakin, ACT, 2600.
Copyright © 2001 Australian Local Government Association. ISSN 1447-980X
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