Hello archive

Don’t forget to register your events for International Day of People with Disability

Event registrations are open for councils, clubs, community groups, schools and businesses for events celebrating International Day of People with Disability on 3 December 2018.

There are already more than 300 public events registered nationally taking place on or around International Day of People with Disability, with events listed by state or territory.

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, Sarah Henderson, said the United Nations day aims to help break down barriers for the 4.3 million Australians living with disability.

“By holding an event, you are celebrating the diversity of your community as well as helping make Australia a more inclusive place for everyone,” she said.

“We all have a role to play to ensure people with disability have the same opportunities to reach their full potential.

“The International Day of People with Disability website is a great place to start for event ideas and resources to help plan your event.”

To get involved or find out more about International Day of People with Disability, visit www.idpwd.com.au or call 1800 440 385.

ALGA to get a seat at National Biosecurity Committee table

The Federal Government has released its national response to the independent review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB), accepting all 42 recommendations including recommendation 19 to include the ALGA CEO on the National Biosecurity Committee.

The government agreed to the recommendation in principle stating that “Ministers recognise local governments play an important role in biosecurity and are integral to successful consultation. As such, the ALGA will be invited to be an observer of the NBC.”

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the government’s response represents a commitment by all governments to build a stronger national biosecurity system to meet new challenges and protect Australia’s farming future.

“We’ll focus on biosecurity awareness, sustainable funding, research and innovation and managing biosecurity across all sectors,” he said.

“We need to know where the risks are to be able to deal with them more quickly.

“We are in the final stages of negotiations with state and territory governments to deliver a new IGAB and I look forward to finalising the new agreement.”

The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) will report on ongoing and improved commitment to national biosecurity under the new agreement.

The government’s response to the full report is available at this link.

President’s column

In 2012, a young Sarah Frazer’s car broke down. Jammed up to a guardrail and straddling the edge of the inner highway lane, she and her tow truck driver were killed instantly by a distracted driver.

Although the driver was guilty of dangerous driving, the road was also at fault by not being constructed to Austroads standards requiring sufficient room to pull off the road safely.

Delegates at this week’s National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Alice Springs had the privilege of hearing Sarah’s story first hand from her father Peter Frazer, who founded and runs Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) in her memory. In the words of Cr Stuart James who attended the congress, you could hear a pin drop as delegates solemnly listened to Peter talk about the needless deaths and the critical issues of road design and road safety.

Understanding and accepting responsibility for minimising road trauma on our local roads provoked much discussion at the congress. As owners and managers of 75% of the nation’s roads by length, 662,000 kms in total, it’s a topic that can’t be ignored – local roads are very much part of the national safety narrative.

The data reveals that 1200 Australians are killed, 480 of them on local roads, every year. Many more are hospitalised, some 36,000 nationwide. Using the same ratios that’s 14,400 serious injuries occurring on our council and shire-owned roads. Targeted black spot programs are great, but there is so much more we need to think about if we are to play our part in helping prevent so many injuries and deaths.

Does your team understand the safety risks on your roads? Have they done any network analysis, not just isolated solutions? Have you asked your local hospital if you can look at admissions data related to road related incidents to identify trends and hotspots? Have you looked at accident reports to understand what really went wrong? If we don’t understand the real issues we may invest in the wrong solutions.

Data is so important. It might reveal that an education program for your local youth, or your local oldies(!), might be the best place to start. Or it could be narrow roads, soft shoulders, sharp bends, unsealed surfaces, or any number of design issues. The message at the congress was clear, accept our responsibilities, find the data, and think about safety every time we look at spending a dollar on our road networks. How we spend the money, and on what, could prevent a serious injury for someone in your community, or even save a life.

The 2018 National State of the Assets report was also launched at the congress. The report’s findings support our calls to the Commonwealth to boost funding for our local infrastructure, but in particular our calls to improve the long-term financial sustainability of local government by restoring Financial Assistance Grants funding levels back to at least 1% of Commonwealth taxation revenue.

Did you know that 21% of our timber bridges are in poor or very poor condition? The report also reveals that our backlog of all fixed assets in poor or very poor condition has grown from $27b in 2015 to $30b, despite our best efforts and welcome Federal assistance over recent years. It also warns of a tsunami of assets built in the boom years during the 50s and 60s that are coming to end of life, further challenging our efforts to ever surmount the backlog without greater assistance.

I would like to thank Jeff Roorda and his team at TechnologyOne for delivering the report. I would also like to thank Peter Frazer and all of the speakers at the congress including Downer and Hume Council on incorporating plastics into hotmix, and a range of other experts; each of them contributed to our understanding of some of the most important roads and transport policy issues facing our nation and local government and helped us to prepare for some of the challenges that lay ahead.

And finally, thank you to Mayor Damien Ryan and his team at the Alice Springs Town Council for their hospitality – and a very impressive thunderstorm on Tuesday night that saw water flow into the normally very dry Todd River!

Keep up the great work. 


Mayor David O’Loughlin

 ALGA President

Federal Government launches its digital transformation strategy

The Hon Michael Keenan MP, Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, has this week launched the Commonwealth’s digital transformation strategy during an address at the National Press Club in Canberra.

The Strategy provides a direction for the Government’s work on data and digital transformation, with the aim to have all government services available digitally in the next seven years.

The Minister said that the strategy sets out a bold vision for Australia to remain in the top 3 digital governments in the world by 2025.

“Digital transformation is happening across the private sector, and increasingly across governments,” he said.

“The strategy I am releasing today will take us forward for the next seven years — to make Australia one of the world’s best digital governments.”

The strategy sets out 3 priorities that focus on delivering integrated digital services, using data and increasing trust and transparency, and lifting the digital capability of government:

  • Government that’s easier to deal with 
  • Government that’s informed by you 
  • Government that’s fit for the digital age

The strategy is also accompanied by a roadmap of key projects and milestones being rolled out over the next two years.

More information about the Government’s Digital Transformation Strategy is available on the Digital Transformation Agency website.

$200m City Deal for Darwin

A $200 million City Deal has been signed for Darwin to boost the local economy, create jobs and support the growth of local small businesses.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Darwin City Deal builds on an ongoing commitment to develop northern Australia and infrastructure investments in the Northern Territory.

The City Deal includes immediate investment of $100 million each from the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government.

The $200 million investment will support:

  • The creation of a new education and civic precinct on Cavenagh Street featuring a new Charles Darwin University campus as well as retail, commercial and community spaces;
  • Construction of a new Art Gallery in State Square;
  • Transformation of public spaces in the CBD to create cooler, greener streetscapes;
  • A new Urban Living Lab led by the CSIRO which will test and evaluate improvements in Darwin’s liveability, sustainability and resilience
  • Establishment of a process to redevelop a key piece of Defence-owned land at Stokes Hill; and
  • Additional support for the Larrakia people as the traditional owners of Darwin by increasing the share of jobs held by Indigenous Australians through an 8.8 per cent employment target and 3 per cent supplier-use target for City Deal projects and $2 million to support the Larrakia Development Corporation’s economic development aspirations.

Lord Mayor of Darwin Kon Vatskalis welcomed the 10-year plan for Darwin’s future.

“The Council and I look forward to working closely with our City Deal partners as we take forward this historic agreement that will help grow and transform Darwin,” he said.

The Opposition said it would honour the City Deal but would build upon the deal, transforming it into a City Partnership.

With all three levels of government having now agreed to the City Deal, an Implementation Plan will be prepared, setting out key milestones for projects with progress to be reported annually

The City Deal is available at https://citydeals.infrastructure.gov.au/darwin

National Agriculture Day highlights farming contribution

National Agriculture Day on Wednesday 21 November provided communities with a great opportunity to acknowledge Australia’s hardworking farmers and the broader agricultural industry.

This year’s theme #GrowforGood highlighted the broader positive contribution the farming and agribusiness sector makes to the nation by putting food on our tables, among other important contributions.

A National Agriculture Day celebration in Wagga Wagga highlighted research and innovation as key ingredients to ensure the long-term viability of our rural industries. More than 100 people gathered at Charles Sturt University (CSU) for the annual event, embracing the theme ‘Grow For Good’.

AgriFutures Australia General Manager, Research and Innovation Michael Beer, who attended the event, said it was a unique take on the theme. 

“The world population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. How we continue to feed the world, and to do so in a sustainable way will require research. We took this year’s theme of ‘Grow for Good’ and highlighted the importance of research and innovation in the quest to feed more people and produce safe, affordable and nutritious foods,” Mr Beer said.

National Agriculture Day is a National Farmers’ Federation initiative. More than 100 events were held at locations across Australia to celebrate agriculture, the largest employer in many of Australia’s rural and remote communities. 

Innovative signs help reduce rural risk in SA

The South Australian Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) will trial a Rural Junction Active Warning System (RJAWS), which aims to improve safety on the South Australian rural road network.

The system involves installing variable speed-limit signs at junction approaches, including where there are blind bends, which are radar triggered by the presence of side-road traffic.

Motorists crossing a major road or turning right onto a major rural road can often underestimate the required gap to do so. The activation of a reduced speed limit for a short section of road approaching the junction will slow down approaching traffic and increase the gap time.

Lower vehicle speeds also translate to lower impact speeds in the event of a collision, which reduces the severity of sustained injuries.

This system, which was originally developed in Sweden, has been trialled in New Zealand as part of a wider program to address safety at high-risk rural junctions.

The $500,000 project is funded by DPTI’s Annual Program.

Have your say on telecommunications services

A new consultation paper with proposals for modern reliability safeguards for telco services in Australia has been released as part of the Federal Government’s ongoing Consumer Safeguards Review.

The three-part review, announced in April 2018, examines how to better protect telco customers in a landscape that has seen massive change over the last two decades. The Federal Government is currently consulting on Part B of the review: Reliability of Services.

Part B of the Review is based on the fundamental principle that all Australians should be able to connect to, and stay connected to, a reliable fixed service. 

Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield said broadband is now considered as essential as electricity or water.

“Consumers expect to get connected and stay connected, and if something goes wrong, it needs to be fixed and fixed quickly,” he said.

Input is being sought on a number of proposals designed to improve the reliability of fixed voice and broadband services, including:

  • New rules enforcing maximum timeframes for connections and repairs and encouraging telco providers to keep the connection and repair appointments they make
  • Requirements to focus on keeping consumers connected to a service if maximum timeframes cannot be met
  • Requirements for network operators to publish reliability metrics to help consumers make informed decisions.

The full report and recommendations from Part A (redress and complaints handling), and the Part B discussion paper (service reliability) are available at: www.communications.gov.au/consumer-safeguards-review

Feedback can be provided by 21 December 2018 through the Have Your Say webpage.

Arts a bigger drawcard for international tourists

The arts are increasingly on the itinerary for visitors packing their suitcases to come to Australia, according to a new report from the Australia Council for the Arts: International Arts Tourism: Connecting Cultures.

Arts tourist numbers grew by 47% between 2013 and 2017, a higher growth rate than for international tourist numbers overall (37%).

Visitors from Asia were the biggest group of arts tourists, representing almost half (48%) of all international tourists engaged with the arts.

International tourists who engaged with the arts tended to stay in Australia longer than international visitors overall.

The research shows strong engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture. Nearly 830,000 international arts tourists (one in four) engaged with First Nations arts while in Australia.

International tourists who engaged with the arts were also more likely to travel beyond the east coast states and to visit regional locations, reflecting a demand for diverse and authentic cultural experiences.

Australia Council Executive Director for Strategic Development and Advocacy Dr Wendy Were said the research highlights the power of the arts in shaping international perceptions of Australia.

“The arts provide an important point of connection. We know that international visitors are drawn to Australia’s unique First Nations arts and cultures, and are connected to us through the extraordinary diaspora who have made Australia their home,” Dr Were said.

“The arts are a highly influential and powerful tool for building national identity and for sharing Australian culture, stories and perspectives with the world. The research highlights the growing potential for the arts to drive and support tourism activity, and for our artists to increase their engagement with the international tourist market.”

Visitors to Australia were more likely to engage with arts (43%) than to visit wineries (13%), casinos (12%) or attend organised sporting events (6%).

The full report is available on the Australia Council for the Arts website.

Call for abstracts for third National Indigenous Transport Conference

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation Transport and Community Services (NATSIC) would like to offer councils the opportunity to submit an abstract for its third National Indigenous Transport Conference to be held on 14 – 15 May 2019 in Western Australia.  

The theme for the Conference is “Transport Dreaming – Defining the Journey” and will focus on innovative transport solutions across areas that have significant impacts on the health, wellbeing, cultural obligations and social inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and community across Australia.  

Visit www.nastic.com.au for full details.

Abstracts must be submitted online by 5pm on Friday 21 December 2018 to: conference@natsic.com.au.

Mayor David O’Loughlin continues as ALGA President

The ALGA Board has unanimously re-elected Mayor David O'Loughlin as its president at its annual general meeting in Alice Springs this week. The City of Prospect mayor has served on the ALGA Board for five and a half years, including as its president for the past two years.

Mayor O'Loughlin said it was an honour to continue as President of ALGA and that his immediate focus is to lead the sector’s advocacy charge in the lead up to the federal election due in the next six months.

"I will continue to fight for fairer funding for councils across the country," Mayor O'Loughlin said.

"The major policy change that we're seeking at the election is for local government's Financial Assistance Grants to be restored to at least 1% of total Commonwealth taxation revenue (CTR), levels last seen in 1996 when the current grant scheme was established.

"This funding has been systematically eroded over the past 20 years by successive governments. It has not kept up with the everyday consumer price index let alone the Local Government Price Index and has now fallen to just under 0.55% of CTR.

"No electorate or community has escaped the consequences, with less money available for road safety improvements, upgrading crumbling bridges, rejuvenating or expanding local parks, or replacing older club rooms, halls and libraries and other assets that make up the fabric of our local communities.

"The grant stream was specifically designed to allocate the vast majority of funds to regional, rural and remote councils so it is these communities that have suffered the most from the slow squeeze since 1996 – yet they have the highest per capita proportion of roads and bridges to maintain in the nation.

"We're ready to see real action to fix this issue from the next federal government.

"All we want is our fair share of national taxes, just as the original grants scheme envisaged."

ALGA's federal election document, which outlines this and other election policy initiatives, is available at www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au

The ALGA Board also welcomed incoming Vice Presidents Councillor Linda Scott, President of the Local Government Association of New South Wales and Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, and Councillor Tracey Roberts, Deputy President of the Western Australian Local Government Association and Mayor of the City of Wanneroo.

New national guidance for public information and warnings

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience have recently published the Public Information and Warnings Handbook – the authoritative national guide for those who provide warnings before, during and after emergencies. The handbook outlines evidence-based, nationally agreed principles and provides guidance on developing and issuing warnings.

The handbook promotes a coordinated approach to warnings, recognising that all levels of government have responsibilities as well as emergency services organisations, the community, industry, business and the media.

The handbook sets out ten revised national warning principles, as well as guidance on:

  • Australia’s Total Warning System
  • nationally agreed definitions
  • warning dissemination channels
  • system failures and catastrophic events
  • communicating with diverse audiences and communities
  • monitoring and evaluation.

The handbook and supporting companion toolkits are available free on the Knowledge Hub: knowledge.aidr.org.au/warnings-handbook. Hard copies are also available for purchase.

For inquiries about the Handbook Collection or hard copy purchase, contact: Rebecca Duffy – Project Officer on rebecca.duffy@aidr.org.au

Applications to join the LDAT program close next Friday

Applications to join the Local Drug Action Team (LDAT) program close next Friday 7 December.

The LDAT program supports organisations to build or extend partnerships in their community and develop activities to prevent and minimise the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs, at a grass roots level.

There have been some great success stories through the LDAT Program, such as from the Blue Mountains LDAT that includes the Blue Mountains City Council.

Information is available to help councils determine if the program is right for them on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation Community Hub website.

ALGA federal election advocacy focus: Support communities on their digital transformation journeys

Without additional funding and a broadening of the Commonwealth’s Smart Cities and Suburbs initiative, there is a risk the benefit of investments in smart technologies will not be fully realised.

Many communities will be left behind and the full benefits of the digital economy will not be realised across Australia. Linked-up, smart communities will foster decentralisation and ensure equitable access to the benefits of the knowledge economy.

Whole-of-Government business transformation strategies that result in an interconnected government and collaborative citizen-centred approaches will underpin tomorrow’s smart cities. Rural and regional Australia and its telecommunications connectivity capabilities will also underpin business transformation and interconnectedness.

In its federal election document, ALGA has called for the next Federal Government to support communities on their digital transformation journeys by:

  • building on the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program approach by providing a Smart Communities Program of $100 million per annum
  • establishing a Digital Local Government and Rural / Regional Telecommunications Program of $100 million over four years to increase the community benefits of improved technology, connectedness and innovation.

ALGA’s analysis indicates that the Smart Communities Program would have a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit of $242.3 million by the third year and create up to 700 new jobs. The Digital Local Government and Rural / Regional Telecommunications Program could have a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit of $98.1 million by the third year and create up to 300 new jobs.

Find out more about this and other federal election initiatives from ALGA at www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au

Population projections from the ABS

Based on current trends, Australia's population is projected to reach 30 million people between 2029 and 2033, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

Anthony Grubb, Director of Demography at the ABS, said: "The projected time for the nation to grow by 5 million people on current indications will be similar, if not a little shorter, than the 14 years it took to grow from 20 million to 25 million.

"Looking further ahead, based on the medium of our three main projection assumption series, Australia could add a further 10 million to our current 25 million by the year 2043.” 

Under all assumptions, the population of New South Wales is projected to remain as the largest state with a population of between approximately 9 and 9.3 million. Victoria is projected to experience the largest and fastest increase in population, possibly reaching between 7 and 8 million by 2027. 

Queensland is projected to continue growing over the projection period, increasing to 6 million people in 2027. Western Australia is projected to increase to 3 million by 2027, while South Australia is projected to have slower growth, increasing to 2 million. 

The population of the Australian Capital Territory is projected to increase to between 479,000 and 510,000 people closing the gap on Tasmania's population which is projected to reach between 545,000 and 573,000 people in 2027.

The Northern Territory is projected to increase to between 270,000 and 284,000 people in 2027.

Population projections are based on assumptions of future levels of fertility, life expectancy and migration, which are guided by recent population trends.

Further information is available in Population Projections, Australia, 2017 (base) to 2066 (cat. no. 3222.0) available for free download from the ABS website.

What is Hector and how will it boost road safety?

Virtual reality is being used in a unique project to check the driving skills of senior Australians and improve road safety.

Called Hector VR, the Virtual Reality Driving Simulator for Older Drivers has received a $726,000 funding investment from the Federal Government. It targets people between 70 and 80 years of age and is now being trialled in the Inverell district of New South Wales.

Developed by aged care provider McLean Care in partnership with Deakin University’s School of Engineering, the trial uses emerging interactive virtual reality, linked with smart sensor technology.

The driving simulator is contained in the shell of a Holden Captiva vehicle, to increase the sense of reality for drivers.

Sensors are also installed which measure the driver’s reaction times and heart rate to assess their responses to a variety of situations that can arise when driving.

The virtual driving scenarios are modelled on the township of Inverell including important local buildings, major shopping centres, retail outlets and landmarks to make the user’s experience as realistic as possible.

The simulator includes differing road environments and realistic scenarios such as country driving and various levels of traffic.

“Hector VR supports people to maintain their proficiency on the road and can be used to test driving skills, to help them decide if they should stay behind the wheel,” said Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM.

“The thought of giving up your licence and the extra independence that comes with driving yourself can be daunting for people as they age, particularly for those in rural and regional areas.

“However, we have to make sure it is safe for them to keep driving and this technology will help with that potentially lifesaving decision.”

In addition to helping older drivers maintain and test their skills, Hector VR is designed to help those with medical conditions, such as dementia and who can no longer drive, to re-live the driving experience.

Development of the virtual reality driving simulator was funded through the Government’s $34 million Dementia and Aged Care Services grants scheme, which is promoting innovation across the country.

People with disability more likely to experience physical violence

People with disability or a long-term health condition were more likely to have experienced physical violence compared with people without disability or a long-term health condition, according to new figures released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016-17 Personal Safety Survey. 

Stephen Collett, Program Manager for Education, Crime and Culture Statistics, said: “The survey results show that 5 per cent (or 288,700) of people with disability or a long-term health condition experienced physical violence, in 2016, compared with about 4 per cent (or 531,300) of people without disability or a long-term health condition”.

The survey also shows that the proportion of people with disability or a long-term health condition who experienced physical violence varied across different disability types.

“For example, almost one in eight people with psychological disability and intellectual disability experienced physical violence in 2016, compared with one in twenty people with physical disability," Stephen said.

The Personal Safety Survey also collected information about men’s and women’s experiences of selected types of sexual harassment. The survey showed that people with disability or a long term health condition experienced sexual harassment at a higher rate than those without disability or a long-term health condition, 15 per cent compared to 13 per cent.

Further information can be found in Personal Safety, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 4906.0) and Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016 (cat. no. 4906.0.55.003).

Council engineers improve road networks following access seminar

More than 70 people from a range of city, regional and rural councils across Australia attended the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) first Council Engineers’ Heavy Vehicle Access Seminar at the NHVR headquarters in Brisbane last month.

Stakeholder Specialist Tim Hansen said the two-day event included presentations from NHVR and industry experts, as well as a field trip to a crane, PBS and an OSOM operator in a bid to help councils understand the challenges faced by heavy vehicle operators and how we can all work together to better manage the freight task.

“We want to inform and empower council engineers in their roles as road managers to expand their networks and work with industry to improve productivity and safety in their local freight tasks,” Tim said.

“The event was an overwhelming success, with engineers coming from as far as Tatiara and the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia to Thargomindah and the Whitsundays in Queensland.”

Tim added that since the event, some councils have already taken actions to improve their road networks, including nominating more pre-approved routes and establishing working groups to liaise with local industry representatives.

“A range of councils showcased efforts they’ve already made to better manage their freight task, such as Walcha and Moira Shire Councils and City of Gold Coast Council, all of whom provided some great examples and inspiration,” he said.

Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018-19

The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018-19 for November shows that above normal fire potential remains across large parts of southern Australia, as first identified in September’s Outlook.

Rain in areas of eastern Australia during spring, while welcome, was not enough to recover from the long-term dry conditions.

Wet conditions currently being experienced across parts of coastal New South Wales will help, but it will not take long once heat and dry conditions return for the vegetation to dry out.

For example, the April to November period has seen Queensland record the ninth driest and fourth hottest period on record, New South Wales the eighth driest and fourth hottest period on record, and Victoria the 13th driest and seventh hottest period on record.

These conditions have resulted in the expectation of above normal fire potential across large parts of Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

Download the Hazard Note at bnhcrc.com.au

President’s column

Alice Springs is set to host ALGA’s 2018 National Local Roads and Transport Congress from next Tuesday.

From fuel taxes, road funding, road safety and design standards to recycled content, freight impacts, automation and permits, the congress will be buzzing with all this and more as we hear from national specialists and local government gurus.

Transport systems across the globe being disrupted and there is no doubt that if current trends continue, the cars and trucks of the future will be considerably different to those of today.

As infrastructure providers, these trends pose significant challenges for our sector as a whole. We have a clear responsibility to maintain current and existing transport assets, such as roads and bridges, to cater for today’s transport requirements safely and efficiently. Yet we are increasingly expected to also invest in solutions that are capable of adapting to change and anticipate the level of service required for tomorrow – no easy task when the road ahead is so undefined in terms of automation technologies and available funding for local government.

I’m looking forward to hearing presentations from leading industry professionals who specialise in safety and connected infrastructure, as well as from those at the forefront of debates on road infrastructure funding reform and public transport policy, and those councils that are already tackling these challenges head on. They will help us question our status quo approaches and expand our thinking across new ideas, possibilities and solutions.

The congress is also an opportunity to hear from Federal Ministers and Shadow Ministers about their visions for the future and how local government fits in to these plans. Being the last congress before a federal election, which will occur before the end of May next year, the congress is also our platform to fight for our case for vital local government roads and transport funding.

ALGA is also planning to launch an updated State of the Assets report and a 2019 Local Government Roads and Transport Agenda.

This is not a congress to be missed, particularly if your council is heavily exposed to infrastructure demands, and it is not too late to register. For more information about the program and to register your attendance, please visit the ALGA website.


Mayor David O’Loughlin

 ALGA President

Regional road-sharing campaign launched

A new road safety initiative designed to improve regional road sharing between large agricultural vehicles and other road-users is being rolled out to coincide with the up-coming summer harvest period.

The National Farmers’ Federations’ (NFF) ‘Common Roads, Common Sense’ campaign is being funded by $250,000 from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI) program.

An educational message will be delivered through a series of radio, on-line and video clips targeting regional road users throughout the nation.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Mr McCormack said the initiative was moving ahead just as harvesters, trucks and other large farm machinery are starting to use regional roads more frequently, at harvest time.

He said the NFF has developed a simple three-step process to help guide driver behaviour – Look Out, Slow Down and Take Care – and was looking forward to the positive message.

“The aim of this campaign is to ensure other road users in regional areas are more aware of how to best respond to large agricultural machinery when sharing the roads,” Mr McCormack said.

With National Agriculture Day due to be celebrated on November 21, NFF CEO Tony Mahar welcomed the ‘Common Roads, Common Sense’ educational initiative.

Mr Mahar said the new campaign was symbolised by the iconic ‘fingers off the steering wheel country wave’ which is used by country drivers to positively acknowledge the presence of other road users.

“Large machinery is also critical to keeping farmers moving with 93 per cent of Australia’s food supply grown here on home shores,” Mr Mahar said.

“Farmers take their responsibility to keep our communities safe very seriously, and recognise moving large machines like tractors and harvesters can cause some inconvenience for other drivers.

“We’ll always move out of the way in these vehicles where we can, but we want to work as a team with other road users to use common sense when we do need to interact.”

Funding applications for Round 4 of the HVSI were revealed last week, giving the green light to submissions for other projects aimed at saving lives and reducing road trauma.

For more information or the submission guidelines visit www.nhvr.gov.au/hvsi

ALGA federal election advocacy focus: Foster Indigenous well-being and prosperity

Initiatives aimed at closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the areas of housing, health, early childhood development, education, economic participation and remote service delivery are vital if our nation is to overcome the economic and social costs of entrenched disadvantage in our Indigenous communities.

Water and sewerage infrastructure provision has not kept pace with population growth in remote Indigenous communities. As a result, in some jurisdictions new housing and other new buildings cannot be connected to services due to a lack of capacity. There are seven towns in the Northern Territory that are at capacity now and others that are closely following.

Family well-being is supported by local government in Indigenous communities and is a major focus of municipal service and infrastructure delivery. To achieve the best outcomes for communities, appropriate resources must be provided for these service-delivery functions.

ALGA has called for the federal government to foster Indigenous well-being and prosperity by:

  • continuing to provide at least $5.5 billion over the next decade to address the needs in Indigenous communities particularly in the areas of overcrowding, homelessness, poor housing conditions, and a severe shortage of housing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
  • renewing the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing and acknowledging the need for increased local engagement and use of local services and resources.
  • taking urgent action to develop new arrangements for funding in Indigenous communities to ensure that services are meeting the needs to communities, including in cities and towns, and that there has not been a shifting of responsibilities and costs on to local government.
  • committing to consult and work with elected local government Indigenous councils on policies and programs aimed at meeting the needs of local communities including, where necessary, the removal of barriers on land tenure for councils so they are better placed to provide services and maintain facilities and infrastructure in Indigenous communities.

ALGA’s analysis indicates that this investment would have a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit of $1.66 billion by the third year and create up to 5,300 new jobs.

Find out more about this and other federal election initiatives from ALGA at www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au

Shining a light on gender pay gap

The Federal Government is investing in a new system to make workplace gender reporting easier.

The Government will provide $8 million for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) to upgrade its reporting and data management system to improve reporting on Australia’s workplace gender equality.

The upgrade will enable WGEA to better sort and analyse the data collected, allow for the submission of voluntary additional data, streamline the reporting process, and reduce the time and cost to business of reporting to WGEA.

Federal Minister for Women, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, said: “While women in the Australian workforce have come a long way, on average they still earn less than men. It is important to continue to improve the data available so we can identify and address sources of gender inequality in the workplace.

“This new technology will strengthen the work WGEA does with employers to promote and further improve gender equality in our workplaces.”

The upgraded system will enable public sector employers to voluntarily report on their pay gaps for the first time, potentially increasing the size of WGEA’s dataset to approximately 75 per cent of Australian employees, from the current 40 per cent.

Women are now employed full-time in record numbers and the gender pay gap has reduced to a record low of 14.5 per cent from 17.2 per cent. But women are still less likely to be in the workforce than men, and work part-time at more than twice the rate of men. WGEA data shows that even when a woman works full-time she earns $26,000 less per year on average than a man.

More information about the WGEA and its work is available on this website.

2018 National Awards for Disability Leadership

The Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, Sarah Henderson has announced a partnership with the disability sector to support the 2018 National Awards for Disability Leadership, to be held on 3 December 2018.

The National Awards for Disability Leadership are an initiative of the Disability Leadership Institute (DLI), Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPOA) and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO).

The Awards were established following the cancellation of the National Disability Awards, usually held at Parliament House in Canberra on International Day of People with Disability on 3 December.

Ms Henderson has been in discussions with DLI, DPOA and AFDO since mid-October to determine how best to support these new awards.

“Since my appointment as an Assistant Minister in August, I have heard some disappointment about the cancellation of the National Disability Awards from the sector,” Ms Henderson said.

“The National Disability Awards were an important way to recognise and champion people with disability who are leaders in their field.

“I am very pleased that the Government is backing these new awards which will continue to be held on International Day of People with Disability. I congratulate DLI, DPOA and AFDO on their initiative in establishing the National Awards for Disability Leadership.”

The new-format National Awards for Disability Leadership will be co-hosted in several locations across Australia and web-cast so that people with disability, no matter where they are located, can participate.

“I will also be working with stakeholders after this years’ Awards to review the Government’s support and look to how we can re-invigorate the Awards in the future,” Ms Henderson said.

Nominations for the National Awards for Disability Leadership closed on 12 November 2018.

Further information can be found at https://disabilityleaders.com.au/national-awards/

Australia and NZ join forces on plant biosecurity research

Australia and New Zealand have entered into a new collaboration to strengthen plant biosecurity research.

The Australian Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI) will join forces with Better Border Biosecurity, New Zealand (B3 NZ) through a memorandum of understanding.

“We are both committed to working together to deliver plant biosecurity research of mutual benefit to both countries,” said PBRI Chair Greg Fraser.

“Trans-Tasman connections will be facilitated between key elements of our biosecurity research, development and extension systems.”

The main aspects of the new collaboration will involve:

  • cross-sectoral projects on pre-border, at-border and immediate post-border biosecurity research
  • government, industry, research or academic players, including partners of PBRI and B3, and
  • formation of a joint Aus/NZ plant biosecurity network to support the professional development of post-graduate and post-doctoral students.

As part of this collaboration, New Zealand biosecurity researchers will be invited to the inaugural Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative R&D Symposium being held on 5-6 June 2019 in Brisbane.

More information is available at this link: http://www.pbri.com.au/australia-and-nz-join-forces-on-plant-biosecurity-research/

Transport and Infrastructure Council discusses road market reform

The 10th meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council (the Council) was held in Sydney last Friday. The Council comprises Transport, Infrastructure and Planning ministers from the Commonwealth, States and Territories, New Zealand and the Australian Local Government Association.

Ministers discussed the continued work on heavy vehicle road reform. To advance these reforms, the Council agreed to develop a nationally-consistent service level standard for roads to categorise roads by their function and set customer-focussed service levels for each road category. The aim is to improve transparency for road users and provide an evidence-base for road investment decisions.

The Council requested jurisdictions to return in 2019 with advice on heavy vehicle road reform options, including advice on implementation. The focus will be on developing a package of measures to deliver benefits for industry, with further consultation to occur on elements of the reforms. The advice will look at road funding reform, independent price regulation and a forward-looking cost base, while considering the needs of users of less-travelled roads. The Council agreed to work with the Council on Federal Financial Relations on the reforms in 2019.

The Council noted the work of the National Transport Commission on testing the feasibility of establishing a forward-looking cost base, with further work on this to occur in 2019.

The full communique from the meeting is available at the Transport and Infrastructure Council website: https://transportinfrastructurecouncil.gov.au/communique/

Housing study aims to improve health of First Australians

A new study will evaluate the impact of housing policies on the health and wellbeing of First Nations people, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Federal Government.

Shelter WA will lead this work around the country to assess environmental health impacts, short term versus long term policy vision and how we manage the construction and maintenance of housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The 2017 national My Life My Lead report highlighted housing’s importance, finding better housing conditions would improve First Australians’ health and were also linked to increased participation in education, employment and the community.

Minister for Indigenous Health the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said that the Government’s Remote Housing Review, completed in partnership with leading Indigenous Australians, found that there had been a significant decrease in the proportion of overcrowded households in remote and very remote areas, falling from 52.1 per cent to 37.4 per cent by 2018.

“The Commonwealth remains committed to future investment in remote Indigenous housing and has agreed to provide $550 million for future remote housing investment in the Northern Territory. Offers for further investment in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia remain on the table for state governments to consider,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Shelter WA will work closely with project partners the National Aboriginal Congress and National Shelter to deliver this study, helping to ensure there is a strong First Nations voice and national perspective in future housing policy.”

Work will commence immediately with the results of the study expected to be concluded by mid-2019.

What is the most common recycling mistake made by residents?

New research commissioned by Planet Ark has found that while the majority of Australians trust their kerbside recycling does actually get recycled, almost half of us aren’t sure of what happens to it and a significant proportion believe it goes mostly to landfill.

A council survey conducted by Planet Ark found that the most common recycling mistake made by residents was soft plastics (like bread bags), bagged recyclables and food scraps or organics being placed in the recycling bin, causing problems at sorting facilities and leading to more of Australia’s recyclables going to landfill.

During National Recycling Week this week (12 – 18 November), Planet Ark has been encouraging Australians to reboot their perspective on recycling.

“National Recycling Week is the perfect time to reboot your own recycling habits,” Ryan Collins, Planet Ark’s Recycling Programs Manager, said.

“Planet Ark’s research has revealed that despite 71% of people being confident in knowing what can and can’t be recycled, 61% would still like to see more information on these topics.”

Households are also being given a helping hand to recycle right with the launch of the Australasian Recycling Label. It aims to help consumers understand which bin a piece of packaging should be placed in. Planet Ark has also released the 6 Golden Rule of Kerbside Recycling that tackle the most common recycling conventions to help clear up confusion. In addition, the new recyclingnearyou.com.au website has been redesigned to make it even easier for residents to find out what can be recycled in their area.

The National Recycling Week research report From Waste War to Recycling Reboot is available at this link: https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/nationalrecyclingweek/research/

Strong growth in female leadership for SA councils

The 2018 South Australian council elections have seen 22 women elected to lead SA councils – a significant increase on the nine female mayors elected in 2014.

Local Government Association of South Australia President Sam Telfer said this number could further increase, with 15 councils still to appoint a mayor or chairperson from within their ranks.

“We had 454 women nominate for council this year, which is a 20% increase on 2014 and the highest on record,” Mayor Telfer said.

“The LGA and councils ran a campaign to increase the diversity of candidates in the lead up to these elections, and this message appears to have resonated with both candidates and voters.

“This diversity of representatives will help deliver greater depth to decision making, with a variety of knowledge, experience, and perspectives.

“We still have a way to go, but it’s encouraging to see more people willing to take on leadership positions, particularly women who will make up around a third of our mayors.

“I look forward to working with our newly elected councils to focus on delivering savings and best value to our communities.”

The full results of the 2018 SA council elections are available on the Electoral Commission of SA (ECSA) website: https://www.ecsa.sa.gov.au/elections/council-elections-home/results

Call to regulate the IoT sector

Australia risks lagging other jurisdictions in the regulation of Internet of Things devices to improve cybersecurity, according to Secure Logical chief executive Santosh Devaraj, and government should be considering enforcing standards sooner rather than later.

Last week the UK government unveiled a voluntary IoT Code of Practice, which aims to improve baseline security for smart connected devices, and to ensure they are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation.

The Californian state government also passed legislation covering smart devices. Laws coming into effect from 2020 will require any manufacturers of an IoT device to equip it with “reasonable” security features to prevent unauthorised access, modification or information disclosure.

This includes requiring a unique password for each device.

“The Australian government needs to follow these jurisdictions and introduce legislation requiring all IoT products – made in Australia and imported – to have strong cyber protections,” Mr Devaraj said.

“At a minimum, the legislation must require manufacturers to give each device a unique password, ensure customers are adequately prompted to install software updates and patches, and to invest in an IoT security education program.

“If the proper investment is made in the product development phase, security can be managed without a detrimental impact on cost or customer experience.

“We want to be proactive, especially around IoT. What we’re trying to do is to work with other industry peers to promote awareness within government.”

The federal government recently provided more than $200,000 for a research project to explore “opportunities, risks and consequences of IoT”.

It would explore the economics of IoT, its social and cultural perspectives of deployment, the educational needs, governance requirements and technological standards.

Mr Devaraj said he would now look to meet with other figures and companies in the industry to work together to lobby government for the legislation.

“It all starts with the industry. We’re talking to industry peers and trying to have them all support the idea of approaching the state government and federal government to assist in forming the framework and policy subset to them. We’re at the beginning of the journey,” he said.

This article first appeared on InnovationAus

Councils make up successful grant recipients to commemorate Centenary of Armistice

More than 660 community projects – including from councils – commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of the First World War are set to share in more than $5.3 million under the Armistice Centenary Grants Program.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester said he was impressed with the projects that had been approved for funding, and the innovative ways groups were commemorating the centenary of the First World War Armistice.

Successful community projects included those from:

  • City of Ryde
  • Canterbury-Bankstown Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Mackay Regional Council
  • Tablelands Regional Council
  • Berri Barmera Council
  • City of Marion
  • Clarence City Council
  • Knox City Council
  • Shire of Tammin, and
  • Shire of Wickepin.

Under the Armistice Centenary Grants Program, every Federal electorate had the opportunity to receive up to $50,000 for local projects that commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice on 11 November 2018.

This is the latest announcement of successful community projects awarded funding and details by state are available on the Minister’s website. Further announcements of successful grant recipients will be made over the coming weeks.

Friendly reminder: survey to advance sustainable purchasing in Australian local governments

The research team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School is currently conducting a study aiming to better understand the barriers and facilitators of effective purchasing, procurement, and waste management in Australian local governments. The team expects this study will provide local government managers/officers with a holistic approach and relevant-contemporary data collected from multiple councils across the country’s states/territories.

The UNSW team is offering your council the opportunity to be part of this project for comparative Australian data. They are inviting Australian local government professionals (e.g., managers, directors, and officers/coordinators) to participate in an anonymous and confidential 15 -20 minutes online-survey. More specifically, professionals working and/or related to the following fields of expertise:

  1. Procurement
  2. Finance
  3. Waste management
  4. Public works
  5. City Planning
  6. Environment/Compliance
  7. Sustainability

You can participate by simply clicking on this link: https://unsw.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8fgOmFt3QyOGGRD

There are neither right nor wrong answers as this study is focused on collecting local government professionals’ perceptions related to procurement/waste management activities within their organisation.

In case of any questions, concerns or technical issues, please contact me Sandor G. Lukacs de Pereny

ALGA federal election advocacy focus: Promote equitable access to community services

The day-to-day experiences and well-being of communities are shaped by the infrastructure provided by councils such as public pools, libraries and children’s playgrounds to name a few.

While some of these facilities are relatively new, many were built decades ago and require significant maintenance and upgrades to ensure they continue to meet the needs of the community.

A significant proportion of Australia’s local community infrastructure is currently at risk of disrepair with an estimated $28.6 billion of community facilities in need of significant renewal.

There is a need for resources to ensure that local community infrastructure across a range of activities can be appropriately maintained and brought up to a standard which allows equitable access for all, including people with disability, women, and older people (a growing issue as our population ages).

Councils have identified more than 900 community infrastructure projects with a value of more than $1.5 billion.

New investment in the maintenance of community infrastructure will create jobs, support the lifestyles and living standards of hundreds of communities, and enable towns to attract and retain population, particularly in regional and rural communities.

In its federal election advocacy campaign, ALGA is calling for investment in a Local Government Community Infrastructure Program of $300 million per annum over four years. ALGA’s analysis indicates that this investment would have a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit $1.41 billion by the third year and create up to 3,600 new jobs.

Find out more about this and other federal election initiatives from ALGA at www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au

Local government shines in VIC Premier’s Sustainability Awards

Gannawarra Shire Council has won the Victorian Premier’s Regional Recognition Award in this year's Premier's Sustainability Awards for their sustainability focus, featuring the first large scale solar farm and battery storage in Victoria.

Many small rural communities struggle to remain sustainable with reducing populations, declining rate revenue and a lack of jobs. The Gannawarra Shire has taken a strategic approach to fortify the future of the local economy by identifying platforms of nature-based tourism, renewable energy and innovative agriculture.

The large-scale solar farm and battery storage could inspire the development of further creative projects transforming not only the municipality, but providing a high level of financial and environmental sustainability.

A joint project between the cities of Melbourne, Moreland, Port Phillip and Yarra also won the Government category for the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project.

The project marks the first time in Australia that a group of local governments, cultural institutions, universities and corporations have collectively purchased renewable energy from a newly built facility.

Members have committed to purchase 88 GWh of electricity per year from the yet to be built Crowlands Wind Farm near Ararat under a long-term power purchase agreement. It provides long-term price certainty and will be critical to partner organisations achieving their ambitious CO2 reduction targets.

Their approach is replicable as it enables cities, corporations and institutions to take an active role in securing renewable electricity supply and to take action on climate change.

For more information on the Awards, other winners and photos from the night visit www.sustainabilityawards.vic.gov.au

Housing affordability improving in major capital cities

The Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) Affordability Index for Australia was recorded at 76.3 in the September quarter, which is 1.5 per cent higher than in the previous quarter and 2.2 per cent higher than at the same time last year, demonstrating an improvement in affordability.

“A trend of improving affordability is taking root in the major capital cities – due largely to falling housing prices,” commented Geordan Murray, HIA Acting Principal Economist.

“Affordability in Sydney posted the biggest improvement. While it remains the least affordable market in the country – by quite a margin – the index is 9.0 per cent higher than a year earlier which is a significant positive step. The improvement in affordability has primarily been driven by the declining trend in home prices over the last year.

“The analysis also shows improved affordability in Melbourne, albeit to a lesser degree than in Sydney.

“The downturn in home prices is yet to run its full course. As the price cycle progresses affordability will continue to improve and this could be bolstered by wages growth.

“Affordability has been deteriorating over a number of decades and it will take many decades of concerted effort by governments at all levels to reduce the constraints and punitive taxes on housing that have led to the creation of the affordability challenge.”

Local government first: Free child care support for asylum seekers

The City of Canterbury Bankstown is the first council in Australia to formally offer free early childhood education and care to support local asylum seeker families.

The 12-month pilot program offers one place per day, and at no cost, at the Lakemba Children’s Centre, Punchbowl Children’s Centre and Carrington Occasional Care.

The landmark move comes after Mayor Khal Asfour and his fellow councillors unanimously endorsed the partnership between council, the Asylum Seekers Centre, and Sydney Alliance.

“We want to be known as a council that is collaborative and innovative but, for us, this project is also about reinforcing our status as a Refugee Welcome City with a big heart,” Mayor Asfour said.

“We were the first council to officially sign the Refugee Council of Australia’s Refugee Charter and now we are the first to implement free child care support for those who are among the most vulnerable in our community.”

Across the City, there are currently 78 children, aged under five, whose parents are clients of the Asylum Seekers Centre and, in NSW, the highest number of people seeking asylum live in Lakemba.

“It is vitally important children attend these early childhood services to develop their skills, including learning English, and to give them a good start to succeed in life,” Mayor Asfour said.

“It’s equally significant parents have this time to improve their own English skills, find work to support their families, and attend legal and medical appointments if required.”

Mayor Asfour said the new program will not prevent local families from securing a place at council’s children’s centres.

“Asylum seeker families have no access to mainstream Government services, such as access to the Child Care Subsidy, therefore cannot afford fees for early childhood education and care.

“In order to alleviate this crippling financial burden, our council has chosen to subsidise this and invest in the future of our new young residents, who could very well develop into our city’s future leaders.”

Federal Govt investing in remote business incubators

The Federal Government has announced that it will trial four Community Development Programme (CDP) Business Incubators that will help remote jobseekers turn CDP activities into small businesses.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion announced the first CDP Business Incubator provider would be the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA). The Government is investing an initial $500,000 for ALPA to establish the first CDP Business Incubators in the Northern Territory communities of Ramingining and Galiwin’ku.

ALPA will provide business support to CDP participants to help turn CDP activities into sustainable businesses. The CDP Business Incubators will provide business coaching and mentoring, back-end administrative services, workspaces, assistance with product development and links to capital sources.

“Indigenous Australians in remote communities are some of the most entrepreneurial people in the country, but unfortunately geography prevents many from accessing commercial finance or the business support necessary for any successful business venture,” Minister Scullion said.

“These CDP business incubators are will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jobseekers in remote communities access to tailored support to build their skills, as well as provide access to business networks and capital to start small businesses.”

Implementation of the CDP reforms will commence from February 2019 and will focus on greater community control, better connections, and greater choice for CDP participants. For more information about the CDP reforms visit pmc.gov.au/cdp.

Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation supports consumer education on food waste

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) recently met to consider a range of food regulation matters, including food waste.

Forum Ministers noted the breadth and causes of the issue, along with initiatives that are currently being undertaken in Australia, New Zealand and internationally to combat food waste.

In November 2017, Australia released the National Food Waste Strategy which aims to address food waste in all aspects of the food chain and is working towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. New Zealand has recently agreed to a targeted briefing into food waste also with goal of halving food waste by 2030.

The Forum agreed that consumer education initiatives and information through the food regulatory system can support the wider government initiatives to address food waste. Australia and New Zealand will continue to work together globally on food waste.

More information about this, and other key issues discussed at the Forum, is available in the communique on the food regulation website.

The Forum comprises all Australian and New Zealand Ministers responsible for food regulation and the Australian Local Government Association, and is chaired by Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie. The Forum oversees the collaborative joint Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation System. The next Forum meeting will be in December 2018.

ACCC authorises SA councils’ waste collection tender

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted authorisation to Council Solutions and a group of four Adelaide councils to jointly procure kerbside waste collection services.

The four councils, Adelaide, Charles Sturt, Marion and Port Adelaide Enfield, are authorised to appoint a single provider for kerbside waste collection services to residents in their municipalities.

"The ACCC considers that running a joint tender process is likely to improve the four councils’ purchasing power and encourage more competition from suppliers than if each council conducted a separate tender process," ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

"The joint tender process is likely to result in cost savings through encouraging more competitive bids, reducing transaction costs, and other efficiencies. These cost savings can be passed on to Adelaide residents in the form of lower costs or improved services.”

The ACCC considered a great deal of information both for and against the joint tender arrangements. This included strong objections from bodies representing the two national waste companies who currently hold the collection contracts for these councils.

"Some suppliers raised concerns that the size of the proposed contract would deter some suppliers from tendering, resulting in a worse deal for ratepayers," Ms Court said.

"While there may be some companies that choose not to participate, the larger tender is also likely to attract additional bidders, and overall we consider most of the potential suppliers which would bid if the councils contracted separately are also likely to compete for the joint contract.

"The councils have the experience and incentive to decide whether running a single tender process for a larger volume of work or four smaller, separate tenders, is likely to deliver the best outcomes for their respective communities."

The ACCC also considered the longer-term impact of the joint tender on competition for the supply of waste collection services in Adelaide. While the proposed tender will cover around 180,000 rateable properties, unsuccessful suppliers will continue to have other opportunities to provide waste management services in other parts of Adelaide and around Australia.

Further information about the application for authorisation, including a copy of the ACCC’s determination and public submissions, is available at Council Solutions & Ors (collection)

State, local govts must collaborate on digital innovation

State and local governments across Australia and New Zealand will need to take a coordinated approach to driving digital innovation and transformation in order to fulfil the promise of the digital government future, according to new research.

A report conducted by Ovum and commissioned by cloud application provider Infor, based on case studies from local and state governments across the two nations, argues that digital government is a necessary step in the evolution of government services.

It outlines two key methods being used by government organisations to drive digital innovation and transformation: a focus on innovative technology to inspire enterprise transformation, and a focus on emerging citizen requirements as a driver for change.

Smaller government organisations are more agile and have a digital advantage, and should therefore be taking a leading role in a collaborative approach to digital transformation that encompasses both state and local governments, the report argues.

A coordinated effort will be required to develop strategies linking engineering (operational technology and IoT devices), business systems (IT infrastructure) and economic development (emerging technology start-ups) into a single digital government ecosystem.

The report also outlines what Ovum considers to be the key ingredients for digital transformation success within the government sector.

These are a leadership team that supports and encourages transformation, empowerment of individual authorities to drive change, robust risk management practices to maintain community confidence in government and having the resources in place to drive change.

“To create an innovation culture in government organisations, we found that innovation must be everyone’s responsibility, and that a key challenge is to ‘learn fast’ — not just ‘fail fast’,” Ovum Chief Analyst and Practice Leader for Global Public Sector Kevin Noonan said.

“Digital citizens expect to interact with government in different ways, and there’s a significant opportunity for government to innovate, serve and engage with the community in a better way.”

This article first appeared in GovTech Review.

Updated: Tourism Research Australia’s Local Government Area profiles

Updated Local Government Area (LGA) profiles by Tourism Research Australia are now available for 215 LGAs. The profiles include visitor numbers, spend and length of stay, as well as information on purpose of visit, accommodation type and number of tourism businesses in the area. They assist industry and government decision making and identify and support investment opportunities, particularly in regional Australia.

Profiles are only prepared for LGA’s with adequate International Visitor Survey and National Visitor Survey samples to produce robust results. The data is also averaged over four years, which minimises the impact of variability in estimates from year to year and provides for more robust volume estimates.

Profiles are provided for international travel, domestic overnight travel, and domestic day travel.

More information is available on the Tourism Research Australia website.

Former Mayor to lead Inland Rail consultative committee in Queensland

A fifth Community Consultative Committee (CCC) has been established by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) for Inland Rail, appointing a prominent former local Mayor to lead its work.

Long-serving former Scenic Rim Mayor John Brent has been appointed as the Chair and 16 committee members have been selected from the local community through an independently-run process.

“We welcome the appointment of Mr Brent for the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton CCC. It is great to see ARTC’s ongoing commitment to genuine community engagement for the Inland Rail project,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said.

“Together with the ARTC, we are committed to delivering Inland Rail and are working with communities and land-owners along the route to ensure local knowledge informs the planning of the project,” Mr McCormack said.

The first meeting of the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton CCC is expected to be held in November.

More information about the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton project is available at inlandrail.artc.com.au/K2ARB

President’s column

Drought is slowly strangling the eastern half – and many other locations – of Australia with hundreds of local communities struggling from farm gate to the shop cash register. The outlook points to worsening conditions as we move into summer.

The Prime Minister convened a National Summit in Canberra, which is being held today, to focus on what has been done, and what can be done in the short term and the long term to help our farmers and our communities to be more resilient.

As President of ALGA, I have been invited to attend and bring with me a number of mayors from affected councils across four states – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The mayors of the shires and regional councils of Barcaldine (Qld), Blayney (NSW), East Gippsland (Victoria) and Kimba (South Australia) answered the call and will share their experiences and put their ideas to the summit.

Councils are uniquely placed to support their communities in times of drought as farmers and local businesses cut expenditure and investment in the face of falling incomes. With the support of other levels of government, we can look at measures such as the following to make sure people get the information and support they need:

  • local relief coordination
  • increased infrastructure spending
  • strategic investment in environmental and social infrastructure that keeps local farm workers local
  • support for local community networks and events to strengthen community resilience, and
  • mental health, information and counselling services.

In the longer run, the policy initiatives we have identified in our federal election document are aimed at strengthening the productivity, economic diversity and resilience of communities, allowing them to retain and attract new jobs and workers. These include returning Financial Assistance Grants to 1% of Commonwealth tax revenue, doubling Roads to Recovery funding, investment in local freight networks, establishing a community infrastructure fund and investing in better communications and internet services.

ALGA and your state and territory local government associations have been active in advocacy at the federal and state levels on behalf of our rural communities impacted by drought. Australians everywhere have responded to the calls to help drought-affected farmers and communities and councils, in partnership with state and federal governments, will be doing whatever they can to ensure the health of their communities. 

This is a challenge facing all of us and by pulling together and looking out for each other we can help our communities to deal with the inevitable costs of the drought, both in the short and longer term.          


Mayor David O’Loughlin

 ALGA President

Regional Growth Fund – council projects proceed to assessment stage

Seven transformational council regional infrastructure projects are a step closer to becoming a reality with applicants asked to submit full business cases for approval under the Australian Government’s $272.2 million Regional Growth Fund.

The Regional Growth Fund will provide grants of $10 million or more for major projects that support long-term economic growth and create jobs in regional areas.

The seven projects from the following councils were announced as part of a total of 16 projects progressing to stage two of assessment:

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council
  • Rockhampton Regional Council
  • City of Mount Gambier
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Yarra Ranges Shire Council
  • City of Swan
  • Shire of Murray

Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation Bridget McKenzie said the first stage of the assessment process has been highly competitive with more than 300 applications received from state and territory governments, local governments, businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

“The 16 projects proceeding to Stage 2 will increase manufacturing and tourism opportunities in these regions and most importantly, create jobs both immediately and in the longer term,” Senator McKenzie said.

More information about the projects is available at http://regional.gov.au/regional/programs/regional-growth-fund.aspx.

Innovation in waste tyre management

One of the biggest markets for end of life tyres in Australia, and around the world, is in the roads sector. Australia has a long history of rubber crumb utilisation in roads dating back to the 1970’s. The road construction sector remains one of the most active users of tyre-derived products (TDPs) in Australia.

Rubberised road products, in the asphalt mix or spray seal, not only provide quieter, more durable roads with better traction properties and improved drainage, but can also play a central role in helping to solve the challenge of sustainably dealing with the annual volume of used tyres each year.

Mixed into the asphalt, a proportion of rubber crumb allows for improved drainage, greater durability and a more adhesive surface. When used in the mix of the final sprayed sealing process, rubber crumb further improves durability and noise performance of the road.

The development of markets for end of life tyres is a key focus for Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA).

TSA is a not-for-profit industry organisation set up to implement the National Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme, targeting enhanced outcomes associated with the disposal of end of life tyres.

TSA will join a panel of experts at the National Local Roads and Transport Congress, held in Alice Springs from 20-22 November, and will highlight the issue of waste tyre management and the resulting the opportunity to benefits from the utilisation of TDPs in roads.

During the session, TSA will also focus on the range of resources available to local government to help improve their road networks in metropolitan, regional and remote areas, through the use of TDPs.

Today is the last opportunity to get the early bird rate to attend the congress; register at this link.

ALGA federal election advocacy focus: Protect communities from the impacts of natural disasters

Australia is profoundly impacted by natural disasters and communities need appropriate and adequate relief and support to recover from these events.

Many communities are exposed to natural disasters on a recurring basis and experience repeated disruptions from flood, cyclone and fire events. Natural disasters around the country have claimed lives and impacted hundreds of thousands of people.

The capacity of communities to identify, mitigate and respond to natural disasters is critical. In the face of an increase in extreme weather events, rebuilding infrastructure to its original specifications and condition is not sufficient. Betterment funding, or a small additional investment, will save millions of dollars in years to come by ensuring that infrastructure is rebuilt to withstand new climate-change realities.

In its federal election advocacy campaign, ALGA is calling for the Federal Government to protect communities from the impacts of natural disasters by:

  • ensuring that local government is not worse off under current reforms of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.
  • investing in a targeted disaster mitigation program at a level of $200 million per annum for four years.

ALGA’s analysis indicates that this investment would have a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit of $620 million by the third year and create up to 1,500 new jobs.

Find out more about this and other federal election initiatives from ALGA at www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au

The economic value of cultural and creative activity

The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR) has released new analysis showing cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia’s economy in 2016-17.

Cultural and creative activity relates to the arts, media, heritage, design, fashion and information technology.

The BCAR’s new working paper, Cultural and creative activity in Australia 2008-09 to 2016-17, shows a 30 per cent increase in the value of cultural and creative activity, from $86 billion in 2008-09 to $111.7 billion in 2016-17.

This equates to 6.4 per cent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016-17.

The working paper tracks annual growth in cultural and creative activity based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The analysis measures the economic activity driven by cultural and creative industries as well as the wages received from cultural and creative occupations. It identifies how this activity has evolved over time, the drivers of change and how it contributes to Australia’s overall economy.

Activities contributing the most to the economy were design ($42.8 billion), fashion ($14.2 billion), and broadcasting, electronic or digital media and film ($9.7 billion) in 2016-17. Design has experienced significant growth over the past decade, driven mainly by computer system design and related services.

For a copy of Cultural and creative activity in Australia 2008-09 to 2016-17, please visit www.communications.gov.au/bcar

Electric vehicles to get charging network

Electric vehicles will soon have access to a charging network along the major driving routes from Brisbane to Adelaide, including around Sydney and Melbourne, and separately in Western Australia.

The Australian Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will provide $6 million to Chargefox Pty Ltd to develop 21 ultra-rapid charging stations powered by renewable energy.

The $15 million network is expected to have no more than 200 kilometres between stations which is within the range of current electric vehicles.

The ultra-rapid charge will provide a range of up to 400 kilometres in just fifteen minutes, compared to a current charging time of several hours.

The stations will be open to the public and all electric vehicle models currently sold in Australia.

Euroa in Victoria and Barnawartha North, outside Albury Wodonga on the New South Wales-Victorian border will be the first sites for the charging stations.

The network will help open up interstate travel and regional communities to the potential of electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles have the potential to lower transport costs, enhance fuel security, and increasingly create more sustainable cities with less pollution and better health outcomes for our communities.

Older Australians missing out on vital exercise to stay healthy

A national survey by Australia's national science agency has revealed how the health of older Australians could suffer if they don't flex their muscles at least twice a week.

The survey of more than 5,600 CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet subscribers found 65 per cent of people aged 51-70 years, and 86 per cent of people over 71, did not think resistance exercise was important for weight loss and overall health. Only one in two adults added resistance exercise to their weekly program.

"While resistance exercise is beneficial at any age, it becomes even more important as we get older and experience muscle loss associated with ageing," CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Professor Grant Brinkworth said.

"If you're in your 30s or 40s and not doing resistance exercise, establishing the habit now can provide many lifelong health benefits.

"Resistance exercise can help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, type II diabetes, and heart disease – and with millions of Australians living with two or more chronic diseases, it's critical that people exercise as they age to sustain their health and quality of life."

The survey also found that, overall, two-thirds of people were not aware of the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommends adults be active on most – preferably all – days.

Professor Brinkworth said only seven per cent of respondents knew the guidelines recommended at least two muscle-strengthening resistance exercise sessions a week, and 77 per cent thought brisk walking was the best way to lose weight.

ALGA’s federal election document has called for the Federal Government to promote healthier communities by investing in a Local Government Place-Based Preventative Health and Activity Program of $100 million over four years, which could see a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit of $292 million by the third year and up to 1,600 new jobs.

Tabled: report on the quality of care in residential aged care facilities in Australia

The Health, Aged Care and Sport Committee has presented its Report on the Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia. The inquiry examined the delivery and regulation of the current aged care system and the prevalence of mistreatment.

The Committee Chair, Mr Trent Zimmerman MP, stated that: “While many Australians experience high quality aged care, the community is justifiably concerned about the many examples of abuse and mistreatment that have been exposed through recent inquiries and reporting.

“Our Committee received submissions from many residents and family members which outlined harrowing examples of mistreatment. This is not good enough for a nation like Australia.

“Australia’s population is ageing, which will inevitably lead to more demand for residential aged care places. It is vital that there is an aged care system in place which has the confidence of consumers, is able to respond to changing expectations of care, and which responds effectively to any instance of mistreatment.

“As the inquiry was nearing its end, the Australian Government announced a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Committee has welcomed this announcement and other recent government measures to improve the provision of aged care services. At the same time, the Committee considers that the Royal Commission should not delay the implementation of improvements recommended in this Report and other recent reviews.”

The report made 14 recommendations, including:

  • The development of national guidelines for the Community Visitors Scheme, including policies related to observed or suspected abuse or neglect;
  • A review of the Aged Care Funding Instrument to ensure it is providing for adequate levels of care, is indexed annually and includes for penalty breaches;
  • A Medicare Benefits Schedule review of medical practitioner visits to residential aged care facilities;
  • That one Registered Nurse is always on site in residential aged care facilities; monitoring and reporting on the correlation between standards of care and staffing mixes;
  • An independent review and parliamentary inquiry into the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission after two years of operation;
  • Ensuring that unannounced visits by regulators to residential aged care facilities are not confined to business hours;
  • Amending the Aged Care Act 1997 to limit and place conditions on the use of restrictive practices in residential aged care facilities; and
  • Making information regarding the number of complaints and complainants at individual aged care facilities available on the My Aged Care website.

The report is available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Health_Aged_Care_and_Sport/AgedCareFacilities/Report

$2 billion funding for Victorian housing and homelessness services

The Federal and Victorian Governments have this week finalised their agreement on the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA).

The $2 billion in funding will provide social housing and homeless services that aim to make a positive difference for families and individuals experiencing disadvantage. This funding represents an approximate $250 million increase on the previous five years to 2017-18.

It will help to provide for crisis and transitional accommodation, long term social housing, maintenance of social housing, builds and acquisitions, along with a range of assistance to prevent homelessness.

The NHHA replaces the National Affordable Housing Agreement and National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

Under the NHHA, funding levels will be maintained and funding allocated to homelessness services is ongoing and indexed, providing certainty to frontline homelessness services providers.

The Federal Government has said that it is committed continuing to work together with the states and territories to improve housing and homelessness outcomes.

Supporting local government’s current work in addressing affordable housing and homelessness issues is one of the priorities in ALGA’s federal election document.

President’s column

Did you know its Anti-Poverty Week this week? Or that poverty and severe hardship affects a staggering 3 million Australians, including 739,000 children, who are currently living below the internationally-accepted poverty line. These are hard numbers to ignore.

This year’s Poverty in Australia report by the Australian Council of Social Service shows that most of those affected are living in deep poverty, on average living on $135 per week below the poverty line. This must be particularly difficult in large cities where rents and housing are generally expensive and, on top of this, low income has been recognised as a key driver of homelessness.

It is undeniable that the overwhelming majority of these 3 million people, which must include many families, are living in our shires, councils, towns and cities. As the stewards of our communities, we are in a unique position during Anti-Poverty Week to help strengthen our understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship. We can also encourage discussion and action by individuals and our communities and local businesses to address these problems – in addition to what governments at all levels should do – to provide relief and to tackle the root causes. ALGA’s current election advocacy includes a call to support local government’s current work in addressing homelessness in communities.

Anti-Poverty Week is also a time when we can connect with our communities to recognise the great work being done to promote social justice, to provide community service, and to ensure that our programs and places are inclusive and welcoming to all, regardless of their means.

Across the country this week, councils recognised Anti-Poverty Week 2018 by holding fundraising events, walking tours, and food and clothing drives, to name just a few activities. Other councils, such as my own City of Prospect, have advocated for the Newstart Allowance to be increased at the same time as we have maintained a clear focus on attracting investment and new businesses to provide more local jobs.  

This bottom-up action at a grassroots level does make a difference and goes a long way in supporting the bigger fight against poverty and hardship in Australia. It can shift attitudes and perspectives, it can create opportunities for connecting with people experiencing exclusion, and it can provide resources, investment and jobs to help alleviate disadvantage.

I would like to leave you this week with this quote from the UN Secretary General, António Guterres:

“Let us remember that ending poverty is not a matter of charity but a question of justice.”

Keep up the great work,


Mayor David O’Loughlin

 ALGA President