LGiU has teamed up with ALGA to bring you a fortnightly edition of the Policy Roundup containing the local news, policy reports and LGiU briefings from the last week plus the latest updates from ALGA.
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  • This week, I was honoured to represent you at the first meeting of the National Cabinet Reform Committee (Rural and Regional). One of six bodies created in June 2020 to progress the National Cabinet’s job-creation agenda, the Rural and Regional Reform Committee is tasked with promoting economic growth and job creation in rural and regional+

  • The Australian Taxation Office has published a draft decision that the supply of a burial right in a public cemetery is not subject to GST. It is now seeking feedback on this draft determination (GSTD 2021/D2: Goods and services tax: is the supply of a burial right in respect of a public cemetery is subject+

  • Local governments were required to notify the Minister for Foreign Affairs by 10 June of any foreign arrangements entered into on or before 9 March 2021. Councils that would like to discuss any foreign arrangements that were not notified by the 10 June deadline can contact DFAT’s Foreign Arrangements Taskforce at foreignarrangements@dfat.gov.au for assistance.  The+

  • The Blue Mountains Council is considering trialling “cat bibs” as part of a broader program to reduce predation of native wildlife by domestic cats. The bibs, small triangular pieces of neoprene attached to a cat’s collar, are claimed to stop 81 percent of cats catching birds, 45 percent from catching mammals, and 33 percent from+

  • The datasets needed to properly inform community infrastructure planning in rapidly growing urban areas are generally lacking, a new study says. The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report found lag times between population growth and new infrastructure delivery “are pervasive in new greenfield development areas”. Not only is there a lack of coordinated and+

  • An old mining town in Tasmania’s north-east has won a major award at a US water-tasting event dubbed the “world’s most prestigious”. Rossarden, in the Fingal Valley, took out the municipal water award at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting event held in West Virginia earlier this month. Berkeley Springs is claimed to be the+

  • A task force to support local councils with natural disaster response and recovery has been set up by the NSW state government. The five specialist members of the Disaster Response Taskforce “will assist councils in applying for disaster funding to ensure they have the resources they need to fix vital infrastructure in a timely manner”.+

  • Visitors to a remote southern Tasmanian tourist attraction will enjoy better digital connectivity after new Commonwealth funding was announced this week. An area east of Geeveston (where the well-known Tahune Airwalk is located), together with an additional 51 projects, will receive $27 million from the latest tranche of Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) funding. It brings+

  • The City of Sydney Council has become the first local government organisation to join the Australian Death Notification Service. Launched late last year, the ADNS allows people to inform government and non-government agencies, superannuation funds, utility providers, telcos, and insurance companies when a family member or friend has died. Accounts held by participating organisations can+

  • A processing plant using biotechnology to recover valuable metals from electronic waste is set to be built in Sydney’s western suburbs. The plant in Smithfield will be operated by Mint Innovation, a New Zealand start-up that recently reached a property deal with the Cumberland City Council. Mint uses patented bioprocessing technology involving a combination of+

  • The Federal Government will invest $1 million in funding to support product stewardship efforts to reduce clothing textiles waste. The funding will be disbursed through a new grant round under the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund. The announcement came at last month’s inaugural National Roundtable on Clothing Textile Waste held at Parliament House in Canberra+

  • An emissions reduction project that’s claimed to be Australia’s largest local government scheme will be implemented next month. From 1 July, 46 Victorian councils will begin taking wind energy supplied by retailer Red Energy to power their town halls, sports grounds, community venues, leisure centres, streetlights, and other infrastructure. Under the terms of the Victorian+

  • Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner wants people back in Australia’s major central business districts and using public transport again. Addressing National Cabinet last week as the chairman of the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM), Cr Schrinner said that while office occupancy rates had increased from the historic low experienced last year, there was+

  • Copyright laws should be amended to give consumers and independent repairers access to information and tools enabling product fixes, a new draft report says. The Productivity Commission’s draft report on the “right to repair” found the three main sectors where it was becoming harder to get repairs were mobile phones and tablets, motor vehicles, and+

  • Local governments employ a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians than other government sectors – 4.5 percent versus about 2.3 percent for the state, territory, and federal governments. Councils are at ground zero in facilitating and growing local economies (and jobs), so it is not surprising we should be leading the way in improving employment outcomes+

  • Australia Post’s 2021 Community Grants program funding locally-led and delivered mental health and wellbeing projects is now accepting applications. Not-for-profit organisations can apply for up to $10,000 for projects that “help build connections between individuals and their community and that encourage open and positive conversations around mental health”. Australia Post Chief Marketing Officer Amber Collins+

  • The Australian Tax Office is advising local governments that myGOvid will expire on a specific device if it hasn’t been used for an extended period. This is a mechanism designed to enhance online security and identity protection. Many local councils have a myGovID identity to access a wide range of government online services, including Services+

  • Community-based projects in 27 towns across Australia are to share in over $1 million provided through the Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTG) program. They include providing a piano for the local choir and wider community in Kempsey (NSW), installing children’s play equipment in Texas (Qld), and undertaking building repairs at Milang Museum in SA. Applications+

  • A community program to increase resilience in one of NSW’s most flood-exposed areas has been recognised by Floodplain Management Australia. The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Community Resilience Program was awarded FMA’s Flood Risk Management Project of the Year Award on 31 May. Prepared by the NSW State Emergency Service and Infrastructure NSW, the program includes 19 projects+

  • TerraCycle is suggesting local councils consider including its free recycling programs in their waste management strategies.  The international recycling company (based in the US) already has “community collection hubs” in retail stores, supermarkets, schools and offices, and wants to make collection points for difficult-to-recycle items made more accessible to the public. Over the past 12+

  • The levy funding the Paintback product stewardship scheme will continue until 18 June 2031 after a ruling last month by the national competition watchdog. The levy on the wholesale sale of certain architectural and design paints will remain unchanged at 15c per litre levy (plus GST), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission confirmed last month.+

  • A prototype website providing information about traffic volumes, congestion, road condition, and rest area usage has gone live. As well as supporting the day-to-day operations of the transport industry, and providing enhanced freight data across all supply chains, the National Freight Data Hub will enable a data-driven approach for future strategic planning and investment. Deputy+

  • The current accommodation shortage in many regional towns and cities will take time to reverse, the Regional Australia Institute has said. Twenty regions ranging from Port Hedland to Ballina and Townsville to Burnie have residential vacancy rates of 0.5 percent or lower, a situation that threatens to delay work on infrastructure projects aimed at bolstering+

  • Luke Hartsuyker will chair an independent review into the state of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote Australia. Mr Hartsuyker, pictured, is a former Member for the Federal seat of Cowper in NSW, and will be joined on the review committee by Kristy Sparrow, Sue Middleton, Hugh Bradlow, and Michael Cosgrave. Announcing the appointments+

  • I travelled to Parliament House in Canberra this week for talks with senior Morrison Government Ministers Michael McCormack and Mark Coulton and with senior Opposition figures and crossbench MPs. I thanked Ministers McCormack and Coulton for listening to our advocacy around leveraging the potential of local government to drive a locally-led recovery. My discussions with+

  • Funding of $39.8 million has been announced for projects under the Women’s Leadership and Development Program (WLDP). The money will go toward supporting a variety of opportunities intended to “break down work barriers and enable women to advance in their chosen careers or professsion”. Five key areas, including job creation, economic security, workforce participation, leadership,+

  • A further $12.6 million is being provided by the Federal Government to expand the Safe Places Emergency Accommodation Program. The funding will allow for the renovation, building or purchase of accommodation to support women and children experiencing family and domestic violence in Cairns and Logan-Beaudesert in Queensland, and Albany, West Pilbara, and the Goldfields in+

  • The City of Melbourne’s response to “significant transport challenges” in the CBD has been recognised with a major planning award. The council’s Transport Strategy 2030 received the Best Planning Ideas – Large Projects award at the 2021 National Awards for Planning Excellence convened by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA). Judges commended the city for+

  • The national Covid-19 vaccination program for residents in aged care facilities is nearly complete, and the focus is now shifting to aged care workers. The Federal Department of Health has advised that aged care workers are able to get their Covid-19 vaccination now, in line with medical advice. Aged care workers under 50 years will+

  • Future places of refuge for threatened species will set up and protected under a new biodiversity blueprint unveiled last week. The Threatened Species Strategy 2021-31 will also look at “assisted colonisation” for populations whose local environments are impacted by changing climate, and will pursue a coordinated approach to culling feral pest animals and weeds that+

  • First-round applications for a share of $4.5 million being offered under the Networks to Build Drought Resilience program opened this week. The program is part of the Commonwealth’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund and is intended to support the community organisations, networks, and infrastructure that help people and communities prepare for, and survive, drought. The+

  • Six new Bureau of Meteorology staff will be deployed to Townsville, where the Australian Climate Service (ACS) is being based. Announcing the ACS’s home, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the new staff (supported by the BOM’s Brisbane office) will provide 24/7 on-ground support to Emergency Management Australia, local disaster management groups, and Queensland Fire+

  • The Federal Government has called for the states and territories to commit to future biosecurity funding at or above 2016-17 levels in real terms. Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud made the call at this week’s release of Commonwealth Biosecurity 2030, which sets the future direction for Australia’s biosecurity system. “Commonwealth Biosecurity 2030 is our plan+

  • The Federal Government is calling for public input into creating a regional data hub to better inform local leaders and regional communities. The proposed hub will “improve the evidence base for regional communities, local leaders, industry and all levels of government by bringing together key economic, demographic and socio-economic data to provide easy access to+

  • A new Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program to support work not covered by other funding programs is expected to open soon. The $280 million program was first announced in April, having been enabled by a lower-than-expected take-up of programs under the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund. The new grants will be focused on+

  • The City of Sydney Council wants to include energy targets in development applications in a bid to make new buildings more energy efficient. Under a proposal now before the NSW state government, development applications for new office buildings, hotels and shopping centres, and major redevelopments of existing buildings will have to comply with minimum energy+

  • Victorian councils may face “difficult” financial decisions in coming years if revenue growth does not resume post-Covid-19. The warning is contained an Essential Services Commission report on the impact of rate capping on local councils. The Local council outcomes report 2021 found that the sector’s financial health remained strong in general, “putting it in a+

  • Federal Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud has reignited his stoush with Telstra over its regional telecommunications services. In February, Mr Littleproud accused the telco of abandoning its rural customers, particularly in his central Queensland electorate of Maranoa. This week, in an opinion article published in the Weekly Times, Mr Littleproud again said Telstra had “given+

  • Your ALGA has a new chief executive officer, Matt Pinnegar – who takes up his new role when the National General Assembly of Local Government gets underway next month. Many of you probably already know Matt, who is the current CEO of the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA). Matt has seen the LGASA+

  • A webinar exploring the UN-recognised carbon removal technology of biochar using pyrolysis and gasification is being held next week. Convened by the ANZ Biochar Industry Group (ANZBIG), the webinar will be of interest to local councils that want to make their biochar project more viable through voluntary carbon removal credits. The International Carbon Drawdown in+

  • Councils are being encouraged to nominate their most effective crime mitigation projects for the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards. Projects or initiatives that reduce violence and other types of crime in the community are all eligible to be nominated for the awards. They can relate to specific groups such as rural and remote communities,+

  • A new guide to help local government infrastructure managers choose suitably climate-resilient building materials has been published. Though aimed primarily at NSW local governments and developers, the guide will have national application as well, according to Institution of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) CEO David Jenkins. The Climate Resilience Design Guide is intended to assist+

  • Government intervention to help address labour shortages and build resilience will help struggling Victorian tourism destinations, a new report says. The Black Summer Bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic wiped $19.5 billion in visitor spending from the Victoria economy, the report found, with two-thirds of tourism operators losing between 75-100 percent of their income. Lead researcher+

  • Regional Drought Resilience Planning programs financed by the Future Drought Fund have been launched in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, and the ACT. These will bring together local governments, regional organisations, communities, and industry to prepare for future drought risks by developing regional drought resilience plans. Based on the premise that no two regions are the+

  • Further assistance has been activated under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements for Western Australia communities impacted by Tropical Cyclone Seroja. Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements had already been activated in the immediate aftermath of Seroja, but Category C and Category D measures have now been added. This assistance will fund a clean-up program and community+

  • Road transport and infrastructure funding will decrease in real terms from 2021-22 to 2024-25 with the end of the $3 billion Road Safety program in sight. The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) says its analysis of the 2021-22 Budget papers shows the Government is predicting a “decrease of 9.7 percent in real terms” in road transport+

  • National Road Safety Week 2021 was launched in Adelaide this week at an event attended by Safer Australian Roads and Highway (SARAH) Group founder Peter Fraser. SARAH partners with road safety organisations and governments in efforts to reduce road trauma, and founded National Road Safety Week in 2013 – a year after Mr Fraser’s daughter+

  • Three joint council waste management authorities in Adelaide will get about $15 million in federal funding to invest in new recycling projects. The Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) will get $7.92 million to put towards a $12 million paper and cardboard beneficiation plant in Edinburgh able to process more than 40,000 tonnes of fibre+

  • The Morrison Government’s free-spending Budget marks a major departure from previous economic policy, but one that’s right for the times, says Danielle Wood. “I call it the ‘jump-start the economy strategy’,” the Grattan Institute CEO said this week. “Push hard to try and ignite wage growth, get people into jobs, and hopefully the momentum builds+

  • Matt Pinnegar has been appointed the next chief executive officer of the Australian Local Government Association, succeeding retiring CEO Adrian Beresford-Wylie. Mr Pinnegar is currently CEO of the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA). Before taking the helm at LGASA in 2015, Mr Pinnegar was the external affairs manager for BP in South Australia+

  • West Australian councils have raised concerns about more recyclables ending up in landfill when a federal export ban on some waste plastics comes into force in July. The state’s biggest recycling plant, operated by Cleanaway in suburban Guildford, burned down in late 2019 and is scheduled to re-open just days before stage one of the+

  • A new organisation to “lead efforts” to eliminate plastic in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands was launched in Sydney this week. The ANZPAC Plastics Pact comprises 60 founding members from across the plastics supply chain, including corporations, packaging manufacturers and retailers, resource recovery leaders, governments, and NGOs. Its members have pledged to work+