2 Mar 2012

ALGA welcomes new Regional Institute


The new Regional Australia Institute (RAI), was launched in Canberra this week by Minister for Regional Australia, Development and Local Government, Simon Crean, to assess opportunities for growth and development in regional Australia.

The RAI is an $8 million initiative which was part of the agreement to form government reached between Prime Minster Julia Gillard and the Independents in 2010.

The Institute will be chaired by Mal Peters and has been tasked with bridging the gap between academia and policy on regional issues and providing independent advice and information to communities, industries and governments. 

Objectives of the Institute include conducting research into policy priorities impacting on regional Australia, which has been defined as the non-metropolitan areas beyond the major capital cities. 

ALGA, which has a long track record in the regional development area, having published the annual State of the Regions Report for more than 15 years and convened the annual Regional Development Forum for many years, looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with the Institute and to identify the possible synergies which may exist with the work of the Australian Centre of Excellence in Local Government. 

More information on the Institute is available here.


Williams Case may impact local government campaign


In recent discussions with ALGA, Minister for Local Government, Simon Crean and Federal Government officials have placed considerable weight on the outcome of a case currently before the High Court: Commonwealth v Williams and Others, stating it may have a substantial impact on how the issue of constitutional recognition of local government goes forward.      

The Williams Case centres on the Commonwealth’s ability to fund a chaplaincy program in public schools.  One of the key arguments relied upon by those opposing the Commonwealth is the limitation, identified in the earlier Pape Case,  on the Commonwealth’s power to provide direct federal funding in areas and to organisations outside the Commonwealth’s constitutional responsibility.  

While ALGA has argued that this limitation on Commonwealth power puts the direct funding of councils through programs such as Roads to Recovery at risk, the implications of a strong finding against the Commonwealth in the Williams Case could be much broader.  Reinforcement of the Court’s view expressed in Pape could cast doubt on a wide range of Commonwealth programs covering many areas and funding to a large number of non-government bodies.

For this reason, it is understood  that the Commonwealth is waiting on the judgement in the Williams Case before deciding on its approach.  From an ALGA perspective, it appears very unlikely that the Williams Case will overturn the view of the Court expressed in Pape and in fact the decision in the Williams Case is most likely to reinforce the need for action by the Commonwealth to initiate Constitutional reform to put its ability to fund local government directly beyond doubt. 

Councils urged to celebrate Year of the Farmer 2012


Year of the Farmer Chairman, Philip Bruem AM is urging councils across Australia to support the Year of the Farmer 2012 campaign by encouraging city dwellers to venture out into rural Australia.

The call comes after research released by the Australian Year of the Farmer 2012 confirmed that nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of city dwellers never make it to the countryside and the majority (69 per cent) visit rural Australia less than once a year.

Mr Bruem said that the campaign aims to enhance ties between city and rural communities: “Our campaign encourages people to visit the country and consider agricultural career opportunities.”

“We want to celebrate the opportunities in agribusiness that will in turn stimulate growth and infrastructure in rural and regional communities.  We want councils across Australia to support this initiative through their activities in 2012.

“Many local government areas combine with their local chamber of commerce in an award ceremony once a year.  Creating and including a local award recognising agribusiness or a young farming achiever in these awards, for example, would be a great way to bring the Year of the Farmer to life locally.”

Cr Bruce Miller of the Cowra Shire Council in New South Wales agrees that the Australian Year of the Farmer 2012 represents a great opportunity for councils and councillors to engage their local communities in a celebration of Australian produce and the agribusinesses that contribute to the national economy.  

“For rural and regional councils, their part in the celebration might focus on encouraging local tourism through farm-stays, the harvest trail and developing greater understanding of the benefits of a rural lifestyle associated with various agribusiness pursuits.  For metropolitan councils it might be about broadening people’s relationship with their food through local farmers markets and other food themed events.”

Mr Bruem emphasised that the Australian Year of the Farmer is a national celebration that all Australians can mark in their local communities, whether it be in the city or the country.

For more information about what councils can do to celebrate, visit or follow the campaign on Twitter @ayof2012 and at

President’s Column

ALGA President

The Government's launch of the new Regional Australia Institute (RAI) this week is an initiative with the potential to deliver benefits for councils in regional Australia if it can tap into the diverse research already being undertaken in Australia and help local communities to apply that research and identify opportunities for regional development.  It must also, however, be able to support and work with those regional councils and provide them with advice and ideas so that we can truly get the three levels of government working together as much as possible in the regional development space.   

It is reassuring, therefore, that the Chair of the new body has a local government background.  Mal Peters, the Mayor of Inverell, will lead the RAI Board and brings a strong understanding of what councils and communities need from such a body.

One of the Institute’s primary objectives is to focus on research into policy priorities and additional research capacity on regional development issues will be welcome especially if it has a practical focus for communities.  ALGA’s long-standing State of the Regions Report includes an annual update on important regional indicators in each area to help guide councils on initiatives and policies.  We also concentrate each year on specific areas of major policy – such as broadband, housing and carbon pricing - to try to improve everyone’s understanding of how these issues impact on regions and the how the impacts differ between regions.  The State of the Regions Report is launched each year at our Regional Cooperation and Development Forum held in June in Canberra and I hope Mal Peters will be able to come to this year’s Forum and share his vision of the new Institute with delegates.     

As President of ALGA I also represent local government interests on the new COAG Standing Council of Regional Development Ministers.  The Regional Australia Institute could also play a role in supporting the Council’s objective of aligning the policies and programs of the three levels of government and I look forward to discussing the role of the Institute when the Council is convened by Minister Crean.    

Mayor Genia McCaffery
ALGA President

Councils encouraged to participate in National Close the Gap Day

Councils are being encouraged to get involved in National Close the Gap Day and join the thousands of people and organisations around Australia holding events to raise awareness about the Indigenous health crisis on Thursday, 22 March.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die 10-17 years younger than other Australians but the Close the Gap campaign hopes to “close the gap” within a generation.

Local councils are exceptionally well placed to support and promote the Close the Gap campaign as they work closely with communities and are at the coalface of many of the issues their constituents face.

Many councils across Australia have previously participated in National Close the Gap Day, holding successful events in their workplaces and communities.  This year, every council in Australian is being asked to get involved in National Close the Gap Day and make this the single biggest show of support of Indigenous health by Australians.

The National Close the Gap Day presents an opportunity for councils to bring their communities together and showcase their concern and programs in this area.

To register an event, visit

Report released on local government services for Indigenous

The Australian Centre for Excellence in Local Government (ACELG) has released a new report entitled Role and Expectations of Rural-Remote and Indigenous Local Government.

The report, prepared by Alan Morton of Morton Consulting Services, includes:

  • A profile of rural-remote and Indigenous councils, highlighting factors that impact on local capacity
  • A review of background information to identify federal, state and community expectations and issues from discussions with stakeholders
  • Identification of further actions and research.

One of the conclusions of the report is that identifying service priorities is a matter for each council to determine, rendering it almost impossible to propose a core set of local government services.

The report also notes that the ability for rural-remote and Indigenous councils to choose what services they deliver is limited because of their lack of own source revenue or untied grants.

ACELG’s Capacity Building Strategy for Rural-remote and Indigenous Local Government identifies the regulatory and administrative burden imposed on local governments and how this constrains councils from what should be their core focus of delivering services that meet constituents’ needs and expectations.

ACELG is now seeking feedback from stakeholders on the report and the proposed next steps.

Information Sessions on the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme

With the new National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme close to commencing on-ground activities in the middle of 2012, there is a great deal of interest from the community about how it will work, what it will achieve, when, how and where services will be available and what should be done with television and computer waste in the meantime.

To assist local government to understand how the Scheme will work, the Australian Government, with the assistance of State and Territory governments, will undertake a selected number of facilitated information sessions across Australia on the new National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme targeted at local government, recyclers and charity organisations. These sessions will be at selected sites across both metro and regional areas of Australia. 

Sessions will provide information about the new Scheme and the important role that local governments, recyclers and charity organisations can play. The sessions will also be a valuable opportunity to provide feedback on local issues and the types of information and material that is needed to communicate to local communities about the Scheme as it commences its initial 18 month roll-out.

Sessions will be held nationally between 5 March 2012 and 2 May 2012 and will consist of a 45 minute presentation, followed by discussion. For more information on session locations and dates in your state, please contact

Supporting communication material will be available to attendees of the sessions.

For more information on the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme please visit: or contact


MAV welcomes state focus on waste and recycling

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s decision to ensure Sustainability Victoria’s work is focused on waste, recycling and energy efficiency programs.

MAV President, Cr Bill McArthur said that councils had sought a stronger emphasis on waste management and resource recovery, which are critical to Victoria’s future environmental sustainability.

“As well as being a core function for local government under State laws, waste management and recycling are the single largest line item in council budgets.”

“It’s critical that Sustainability Victoria’s programs, resources and expertise align with the practical roles fulfilled by councils to divert waste from landfill, avoid further greenhouse gas generation, and boost economic activity through new recycling and resource recovery initiatives.

“Managing landfills is costly and provides a vital service to the community.  However, building new landfills and rehabilitating closed sites is complex and can require millions of dollars extra from ratepayers, who already pay landfill levies through their council waste charges or rates.

“State landfill levies raise more than $130 million annually, but historically only a small portion has been reinvested to support local waste management and the develop0ment of innovative solutions.

“We look forward to Sustainability Victoria engaging with the MAV and local government on how to best support councils to meet landfill management obligations and progress resource recovery programs.”  

Investment in Australian biofuels

The Federal Government has announced a grant of $5 million for Queensland’s James Cook University to develop Australia’s first freshwater and marine macro-algae to biofuels project.

The Government also announced the opening of applications for the new $15 million Advanced Biofuels Investment Readiness Program.

The funding comes as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to a $20 million Australian Biofuels Research Institute.

The project at James Cook University will also leverage a further $6 million from MBD Energy and the Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre, taking total funding to approximately $11 million.

The Advanced Biofuels Investment Readiness Program is designed to support the investment case of scalable, pre-commercial advanced biofuels demonstration projects in Australia, and will be open for applications until 30 April 2012.

Mayor throws hat in the Queensland election ring

Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke has resigned from council to run as an independent in the Queensland election.

Mr Clarke will try to topple Labor's Peta-Kaye Croft in the Labor-held seat of Broadwater in the March 24 poll.

After eight years serving as Gold Coast mayor, the 75-year-old said the region deserved better representation.

"I feel with party politics is that they, wherever they may be, represent the party and they do discussions with their party room, they don't really represent the Gold Coast," he said.

"Virtually the party tells them what they should be doing on the Gold Coast - it should be the other way around."

"I'll be speaking to the councillors and explaining my reasons why just before the council meeting and I'll have a press conference, pack up and start my campaign."

Federal funding for volunteers announced

Sustainability and Environment Minister, Tony Burke announced that 163 community organisations will receive funding as part of the Grants to Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations (GVESHO) program.

 “These grants help cover the administration, training and operating costs of an organisation so volunteers can focus their efforts on creating a more sustainable Australia,” Mr Burke said.

Successful organisations range from state-wide operations covering vast areas to groups dedicated to public education and small community groups working to protect heritage icons.

“I congratulate all the grant recipients and thank them for working together to create a more sustainable Australia,” Mr Burke said. 

Every application was assessed independently by department officials in accordance with publicly available guidelines.

For more information about the GVESHO program and a full list of funded projects, click here.

ACT Keep Australia Beautiful Awards open soon

Entries for the ACT Sustainable Cities Awards will be opening on 5 March and Keep Australia Beautiful is encouraging ACT based businesses, local government bodies, community based organisations and residents with special projects to enter.

2012 marks eight years of the awards being held in the ACT.  The overall winner of the ACT Sustainable Cities awards goes on to represent the ACT as the national awards held later this year.

Entries close 13 April, with an awards presentation scheduled for July 2012 in Canberra.

For details about category criteria and how to enter go to

International Women’s Day turns 100

The New South Wales city of Coffs Harbour will join communities across the globe on Thursday, 8 March to celebrate women and their achievements.

"Women have achieved so much over the past century, all of which is well worth celebrating," Coffs Harbour Deputy Mayor, Councillor Denise Knight said.

8 March is International Women's Day (IWD), a global holiday celebrating the achievements of women.  This year marks the 100 year anniversary since the holiday was first observed in 1910.

Crisis &Consumer Response CCR12: Chaos or Cohesion

SOCAP Australia is delighted to launch Crisis & Consumer Response CCR12, exploring case studies and expert opinion from the chaotic to best practice cohesion, in Sydney from 27-28 March. 

Handling consumer interactions during critical times can be challenging.  With the increased incidence of extreme weather events, natural disasters, online system failures and social media backlash, handling these consumer interactions well is crucial, and can make or break an organisation.

Over the two days, CCR12 features a range of speakers and panelists as it explores real life crisis case studies, best practice theory and interactive workshops on handling crises when times are tough and business as usual seems out of reach.

Click here to download a PDF program and registration form.


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



User Pays— Exploring the Myths of Free Infrastructure

Infrastructure Australia’s national conference on User Pays aims to raise awareness about Australia’s infrastructure funding challenges, and discuss both the opportunities and issues associated with a wider application of user pays models of paying for our economic infrastructure.
Speakers will include senior representatives from Australia and international representation from the OECD. 
For further information and to register for this conference, visit
Upcoming conferences
Do regional 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



Measuring and learning with Key Performance Indicators

The KPI Institute is organising a new series of training courses that provide a unique combination of know-how and practical experience in implementing and using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as part of organizational performance management systems.

Over the last 3 years the team:

  • Documented 7,000+ KPIs from 15 functional areas and 24 industries;
  • Reviewed 1,000+ performance reports from 125 countries;
  • Referenced 20,000+ resources (books, articles, performance reports) as part of the documentation process;

This research program has generated unique insights into best practices on how to select, document and use KPIs across functional areas, industries and organizational levels that form the basis of a 2 days training course organised across Australia.

Locations and Dates:
Sydney, 29-30 March
Brisbane, 18-19 April
Canberra, 10-11 May
Melbourne, 26-27 June

Additional details
Click here to download the presentation brochure in PDF format.
Click on the following links to access the online presentation pages: Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne.

Registration and payment options
Email request with bank transfer: or online with credit card payment.
Contact our office at 03 / 9670 2979 or email:
Early bird fees are available.



Inevitably, the demand for pool and spa maintenance and construction increases over the summer.

To protect and enhance the safety of your local residents, there's no better time than now to ensure that your Council is not only aware of Swimming Pool Standards, but to also make sure they are housed on-site, readily available for the general public in your local community to view.

The AS 1926, Swimming pool safety Series of Standards outlines the safety requirements for pools including the design, construction and performance of fences, gates, retaining walls and balconies intended to form a barrier that will restrict the access of young children.

These Standards as well as many more are outlined in the Free Standards Guide - Pools and Spas which covers topics such as safety, construction, design and maintenance.

Download your free Pools and Spas Guide today

Visit our store to order Pools and Spas Standards

ALGA News can be read online each week at
Editor: Tel: 02 6122 9434.
Australian Local Government Association - 8 Geils Court, Deakin, ACT, 2600.
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