24 Feb 2012

Board considers strategic priorities


The ALGA Board and key staff from state and territory local government associations and the ACT Government met this week to review and refine ALGA’s current strategic plan.  The 2011-2014 Strategic Plan identifies nine core priorities, which focus on local government finances; roads;  transport and infrastructure; improving natural and built environments; regional equity and regional development; community resilience and sustainability; community collaboration and connectivity; whole of government collaboration; and strengthening democratic processes.

Key actions for 2012 include the continuation of the program to achieve constitutional recognition of local government; the review of the Financial Assistance Grants foreshadowed by the Federal Government in 2011; the campaign for the continuation of the Roads to Recovery program; the effect of carbon pricing on local government; climate change impacts on local communities; the role of councils in managing natural disasters and planning and urban policy.  

The outcomes of this week’s Strategic Planning Workshop and a detailed action plan for implementation this year will be formally considered by the Board at its next meeting, scheduled for March.

Climate change a priority for ALGA


Participants in this week’s Strategic Planning Workshop have reinforced the need for continued action on climate change as a key priority of ALGA’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2014.  Participants noted that significant progress had been made in 2011 in achieving greater awareness by the Australian Government of core issues that affect councils when dealing with climate change.

ALGA has established strong working relationships with relevant ministers, ministerial staff and Commonwealth departmental officers in trying to address climate change issues.  Extensive representations have been made to ensure that the Federal Government understands the implications of the Clean Energy Package legislation for local government, with negotiations resulting in successful outcomes.  These include amendments to proposed legislation to minimise the impact of the inclusion of landfills on smaller councils.

Addressing the legal liability of councils continues to be a major priority of the Strategic Plan.  This week’s workshop resolved that the ALGA Board should continue to actively pursue the findings and recommendations of work commissioned by ALGA from legal firm Baker and McKenzie to review legal liability issues facing councils.  Significantly, the legal liability report recommends that all jurisdictions look at introducing legislative protection for councils similar to that provided under Section 773 of the New South Wales Local Government Act, which provides some protection from liability for councils acting in good faith. 

Other climate change issues to be actively pursued in 2012 include the need for better local data and information to assist councils to address climate change and increased funding to develop targeted programs to integrate risk assessments and develop adaptation plans to address such risks.  The outcomes of the workshop will be considered by the ALGA Board at a meeting in March.

Barnaby Joyce to address 2012 National General Assembly


The Opposition Spokesman for Regional Development, Local Government and Water, Senator Barnaby Joyce has confirmed that he will address the 2012 National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA), which is organised and hosted each year by ALGA.

Senator Joyce is a longstanding friend of local government and has commented publicly on numerous occasions about his support for ALGA’s campaign for constitutional recognition of local government.

At last year’s NGA, the Senator said: “The Coalition is committed to building a new partnership between federal and local government across Australia that recognises local government’s role as the jurisdiction closest to and most engaged with our local communities.”

He said that the Coalition would enhance “the Commonwealth’s direct financial relationships with local government, ensuring that the states abide by their promise to avoid cost-shifting, encouraging improved professionalism in local government, supporting the role of local government in the Council of Australian Governments and supporting efforts by local government to secure constitutional recognition and provide certainty regarding the powers of the Commonwealth to enter into direct financial relationships with local governments”.

Senator Joyce’s attendance reflects the high profile political attention the NGA receives.  Last week, the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean confirmed that he would also address the NGA.  The Prime Minister; Minister for Health; Leader of the Opposition; Leader of the Greens; and the Governor General have also been invited to address the NGA.

With the theme of National Voice, Local Choice – Infrastructure, Planning, Services this year’s NGA will be held from 17-20 June at the National Convention Centre, Canberra.  Registration is now open and a registration brochure will soon be mailed to all councils. 

To register online, go to

President’s Column

ALGA President

As outlined in our top story, the ALGA Board met this week to discuss our strategic priorities over the coming year.  Our annual Strategic Planning Workshop provides an opportunity to identify and discuss our main priorities and the key actions for meeting them.  Shaping our national campaign for constitutional recognition of local government is easily the main focus for ALGA this year, with much consideration given to building on the progress already made towards securing a successful outcome in a referendum on the issue in 2013.

ALGA has long argued for the financial recognition of local government to allow the Commonwealth to continue to fund local government directly in its role of providing the local services and infrastructure that local communities need and deserve.  This position was supported by the report of the Expert Panel appointed in August last year to identify options for the constitutional recognition of local government, which concluded that financial recognition of councils had a broad base of support among stakeholders and the broader community.

The Australian Government is due to respond to the Expert Panel’s final report early this year and has committed to holding a referendum on constitutional recognition of local government by 2013, if it can be persuaded that there is significant support for the cause.

Given the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that the government will provide $10 million funding to continue to build public awareness and community support for the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, ALGA has called on the government to provide the same level of commitment to our national campaign.

I have written a letter to Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean seeking advice on the government’s position regarding the constitutional recognition of local government.  

I have also raised the need for a substantive publicly-funded education program to engage the public on constitutional change ahead of a referendum on constitutional recognition of local government.  This request is supported by advice in the Expert Panel’s final report, which acknowledges that any proposal for constitutional change will face challenges without commitment to public education and broader community engagement. 

On another point, one of the issues that does create some uncertainty in this area is the outcome of a matter currently before the High Court, the Williams Case.  That case deals with the legitimacy of the Commonwealth’s National School Chaplaincy Program, including its ability to fund such an area outside its constitutional responsibility.  This is the same issue raised in the Pape Case and it makes the decision in the Williams Case is important from our perspective.  A judgement is expected in the very near future and Minister Crean has emphasised it is important for the Commonwealth.  

I look forward to the Government’s response to the Expert Panel report and to a commitment to make appropriate resources available to engage the Australian community on an issue which is in the interest of all Australians.

Mayor Genia McCaffery
ALGA President

Apply now for Diversity and Social Cohesion assistance

The federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship is inviting applications for funding under the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program (DSCP).   

The DSCP provides the additional resources often needed by not-for-profit community organisations to develop their own projects and find their own ways of helping their community build stronger community relations.

DSCP funding aims to:

  • Promote respect, fairness and a sense of belonging for Australians of every race, culture and religion.  
  • Develop the community capacity building skills of specific community groups under significant pressure due to their cultural, religious or racial diversity.  

Community organisations can apply for funding of up to $50,000 to develop projects that aim to address issues of cultural, racial or religious intolerance or to develop community capacity building skills.  Projects must provide an opportunity for participation and interaction by different members of the community.

Applications must be lodged by Friday 9 March 2012.

For further information including the Application Information Booklet and application form, click here or contact the Diversity and Social Cohesion Program helpdesk on 1800 453 004.

Comment on National Airports Safeguarding Framework

The National Airports Safeguarding Advisory Group (NASAG), comprising Commonwealth, State and Territory Government planning and transport officials, the Australian Government Department of Defence, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Airservices Australia and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), is finalising the draft National Airports Safeguarding Framework (the draft Framework).

The draft Framework is being developed with the aim of improving community amenity by minimising aircraft noise-sensitive developments near airports and improving safety outcomes by ensuring aviation requirements are recognised in land use planning decisions.  The draft Framework will ensure that both airports and residents of suburbs around airports are safeguarded from inappropriate off-airport development.

The NASAG is seeking feedback from interested parties on the draft Framework.  In this context, the chair of NASAG, Andrew Wilson, has recently written to councils that are likely to be directly affected by the draft Framework.   A copy of the draft Framework can be found here.

Any comments on the draft Framework should be provided by 15 March 2012, directly to:; or

Mr Scott Stone
General Manager Aviation Environment
Department of Infrastructure and Transport
GPO Bob 594

Queries on the detail of the draft Framework may be directed to Mr Stone, on (02) 6274 7605 or

It is important to note that the draft Framework is yet to be endorsed by governments, but it is expected to be considered by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in the future.  Subject to COAG endorsement, each jurisdiction would then consider implementation through its own mechanisms and may undertake further consultation processes.

Fly-in, Fly-out inquiry underway in central Queensland

A federal inquiry into the impact of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) is underway in central Queensland, the heart of the state's coal mining sector.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia is investigating the impact of the FIFO workforce on mining communities.

The committee is due to hear from several groups, including the Dysart Community Association and Moranbah Medical.

It has raised concerns about the doctor-to-patient ratio, which is one to 2750.

Mount Isa Mayor John Molony says fly-in, fly-out workers should not be allowed at mine sites that have an operational life of 100 years or more.

He said if mining companies planned on staying in an area for a significant amount of time, they should be relying entirely on local workers.

"One of the greatest things that any mining company can do to contribute to the skills shortage in Australia, in conjunction with the government, is training and the provision of trades," he said.

New research project to collect data on mobile populations

Australia’s coastal councils have commissioned a research project to collect information on the impact of non-resident populations, such as tourists and holiday home owners, on coastal communities.

The project is to be undertaken by a research team at the University of Adelaide headed by Professor Graeme Hugo, one of Australia’s leading demographers, and is being carried out in conjunction with the National Sea Change Taskforce.

Alan Stokes, executive director of the National Sea Change Taskforce, said mobile populations such as the millions of people who flocked to coastal areas over holiday periods and weekends, were hard to count.

“Many of these people do not show up in the permanent population data for coastal areas which is collected during winter,” he said.  “As a result, the populations in these communities tend to be significantly underestimated.”

“Bass Coast Shire Council in Victoria, for example, has a permanent population of 30,000. The council estimates, however, that this figure increases to nearly 80,000 in holiday periods and can exceed 100,000 when major events are held at Phillip Island.”

Alan Stokes said the differences between these weekend and seasonal population figures have an important bearing on the share of financial assistance grants that councils receive.

Professor Hugo will present a keynote speech on the project at the 2012 Australian Coastal Councils Conference, which is to be held in Hobart in March.

WA releases revised sate coastal planning policy

The Western Australian Acting Planning Minister Troy Buswell has released a draft revised policy and new guidelines for public consultation following a full review of the State Coastal Planning Policy.

Mr Buswell said the proposed revisions and additions provided more guidance to the Western Australian Planning Commission, State Government bodies, and local governments for land use and development on or near the coast.

“The review of the State Coastal Planning Policy takes into account the latest planning information locally, nationally and internationally, from learning from application of the policy, and an extensive internal and targeted external consultation,” he said.

“The review brings the policy in line with other Australian states’ planning policies in terms of sea level rise and application of a precautionary and risk management approach.”

The acting Minister said the comprehensive review had looked into coastal planning matters such as foreshore reserve width; coastal types; and risk of erosion and inundation resulting from a storm event taking into consideration all WA coastal areas.

The draft policy is available here.  Submissions are due by 31 May.

Tasmania releases local asset management policy

The Tasmanian Government has announced the release of the Tasmanian Local Government Asset Management Policy, aimed at assisting the state’s councils in their management of $8 billion worth of assets.

“The Tasmanian Local Government Asset Management Policy provides guidance for councils in developing their own policies and strategies for sustainable, long-term asset management,” Tasmanian Minister for Local Government Bryan Greens said.

“This Policy is a key component of the long-term sustainability framework that the Local Government Association of Tasmania and State Government are working with councils to implement.”

President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, Barry Easter, welcomed the policy announcement, describing it as a sustainable way to support both the current and future needs of the Tasmanian community.

“The Local Government Association of Tasmania is currently coordinating asset management maturity assessments of all councils as a first step in this process,” Mr Easter said. 

“These assessments will provide councils with fundamental information in progressing or improving their long-term asset management plans, and will provide consistent information around asset maturity in councils across the state.”

Local Government Climate Registry launched in Japan

The worldwide climate actions of local governments have been discussed at an international seminar in Japan organised by ICLEI Japan in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, Japan and the British Embassy in Tokyo.

 83 participants representing 34 local governments, including Leeds and Bristol, UK, attended the seminar on 9 February, 2012 and agreed to implement the Local Government Climate Change Registry, a system to actively report and publicise local government actions and commitments.

The Japanese registry, including 124 cities and prefectures, is the first national supplement to the global carbon Cities Climate Registry.  

The seminar concluded with participants declaring their commitment to:

  • Energy saving, efficient use of energy and a shift to renewable energy.
  • Increasing green space and promote a better lifestyle with low environmental impact.
  • Promoting GHG emission reduction measures, measure and analyze GHG emission on a regular basis to achieve the reduction target.
  • Encouraging measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) actions by implementing effective measures.
  • Effectively promoting local governments’ measures through the Local Governments Climate Change Registry system.

Contributing to tackling global climate change issues through data sharing and collaborative activities with the global carbon Cities Climate Registry.

More women than men participate in cultural activities

More women participate in cultural activities, but men are more likely to get paid for their involvement, according to results released from a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

In 2010-11, more than a quarter (27 per cent or 4.7 million people) of Australians 15 years or older participated in cultural activity such as dancing, sculpting, painting, drawing or cartooning.

Women had a higher participation rate in cultural activities (31 per cent) than men (23 per cent), but when it came to being paid, 18 per cent of men received a wage, salary or other payment for their participation in cultural activities compared with 12 per cent of women receiving payment for their involvement.

People aged 15–24 years had the highest participation rate in cultural activities, at 34 per cent. Cultural activity participation rates tended to decrease with age, with people aged 65 and over reporting a participation rate in cultural activities of 23 per cent.

Further information is available here.

Get ready for a taste of harmony

A Taste of Harmony – Australia’s biggest celebration of cultural diversity and food on the Australian calendar – will take place from 19-25 March to coincide with National Harmony Day on 21 March.

A Taste of Harmony is an annual week that invites all Australians to bring in a dish and share a meal and stories with colleagues to celebrate our diverse cultures.

To participate, simply register your workplace event for free by visiting and receive free merchandise.

Participating in A Taste of Harmony is a great way to enjoy a delicious meal with colleagues while learning more about the cultural diversity of the workplace.

There is no fundraising involved, it is simply about enjoying a meal and sharing stories.

Nominate now for 2012 World Mayor Prize

Communities are being asked to nominate their local mayor for the 2012 World Mayor Prize.

Every two years the City Mayors Foundation awards the prize to a mayor who has developed a vision for urban living relevant to towns and cities across the world.

The City Mayors Foundation is seeking candidates who are at least in their second term of office.

Mayors wishing to be considered for the World Mayor Prize will be asked to sign the City Mayors Code of Ethics.

Nominations will be accepted until mid-May 2012: Nominate your mayor now!


Ports and Cities: Partnerships that Work
11-13 March 2012 in Newcastle

Infrastructure Australia is hosting a conference aimed at fostering informed debate about the importance of port development for the future of our cities.

Australia is highly urbanised, and nearly all of its cities are based around an internationally-significant port. The importance of such trade gateways is now achieving international prominence. There is world-wide recognition that interactions between a city and its port are important for city, and national, trade performance.

The conference will pay particular attention to the issues cities and ports need to address in developing and implementing plans for port development; especially what needs to be done to use ports as a catalyst for economic development in cities, and how that success will improve national economic performance.

Speakers will include representatives from international organisations, including the OECD, and from across Australia.

For further information and to register for this conference, visit

Upcoming Conferences

User Pays – Exploring the myths of free infrastructure Melbourne 22 March
Do Australians deserve quality drinking water? Sydney 18 April
Roads – User Pays Brisbane 16 May
Road Safety and National Productivity Melbourne 14 June

Register your interest in upcoming conferences at



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