The waste fiasco exposed in the Four Corners report will have wide-ranging implications for local governments.
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For those of us who care about the environment and the efficient recycling of Australia's household and industrial waste, the ABC's Four Corners program was troubling. The factors behind the mess Four Corners exposed on Monday may be complex – but we can play a powerful role in fixing them, if we choose to. Four Corners' revelations will undermine the public's confidence in Australia’s waste management systems and, in turn, confidence in their local Council and the amount of rates they are paying for recycling services. We know, however, that the vast majority of Local Governments across Australia manage their waste collection and recycling operations professionally and in an environmentally sustainable manner, after sustained improvements in policy and practice over decades. We also know that Australia's waste management system is subject to market forces, private practice and regulation that is outside the control of our sector, with cross-border differences exacerbating local issues. What also appears to be common is a failure of other levels of governments to effectively patrol the beat - to identify, penalise and stamp out individuals or companies conducting illegal dumping or other practices that undermine the industry as a whole. And, as the Four Corners program showed, the indiscriminate imposition or removal of state landfill levies create disincentives for recycling, and encourages illegal dumping. State government-imposed levies were originally well intended: to support recycling, to reduce waste going to landfills, to remediate landfill sites, and to educate consumers. Some of this has happened, but there is much more to do and the funds appear to be more and more difficult to access to achieve this. In the absence of sufficient leadership or discipline by others, how can Local Government get the results our communities increasingly expect and demand? We may not have regulatory powers, but what we do have is procurement power. Waste management is one of our largest areas of contracted services. We spend vast amounts of money in this area and we can choose how we spend it and who we spend it with. We can also choose our contract conditions, and how we will enforce those contract conditions. As a client, we can insist on the right to inspect and audit the services we contract, to confirm they are receiving and recycling as contracted, as we are paying them to do, and as we have told our communities we are doing on their behalf. The control and enforcement of our contracted services can be in our hands, if we choose it to be. In addition, if the issue is a lack of market demand for recycled products, or products containing recycled material, our procurement powers can also be used to choose and purchase these products in preference to others. In doing so we will be making a clear statement that we want to create a sustainable destination for recyclables - and that we are prepared to trial them, to use them, and to preference them. Sustainable and valuable recycling requires a circular economy. If we want the supply side to work, we should step up and be part of the demand side. As an elected member, if you care about recycling, have you checked your Council’s procurement policies? Have you asked if your road building specifications state a preference for recycled material, including glass and construction waste? Or that your posts, fences and benches should use recycled plastics? Are your paper sources all recycled? Are you prepared to ask your Council to trial new products to help create new markets? As per my recent column, ALGA will continue to do all we can on the national front to improve results, to better design product stewardship schemes and to keep Local Government at the table as part of the solution. You can do your part locally by checking your contracts, your reporting and enforcement practices, and by ensuring your procurement policies help and don't hinder the use of recyclables. In doing so, you should ask if your own Council would survive the level of scrutiny we witnessed on the television. Let's aim to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. [post_title] => The waste problem is a problem for all [post_excerpt] => The waste fiasco exposed in the Four Corners report will have wide-ranging implications for local governments. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => waste-is-all-our-problem [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-14 14:05:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-14 04:05:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27811 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27795 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-10 14:06:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-10 04:06:18 [post_content] => The Central Western Queensland Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) in July produced the Smart Central Western Queensland: A Digitally Enabled Community Strategic Plan. As part of that plan, the councils proposed an Outback Telegraph, which involves the mayors of seven Central West Queensland councils, the RAPAD members. Outback Telegraph proposes to switch on public Wi-Fi in these remote areas. The plan is to roll-out free Wi-Fi by this group of councils - covering one-fifth of the state - to boost visitor numbers and business through technology. The first stage of the Outback Telegraph has been switched on by Winton Shire Council, with the smart tourism pilot a first for Queensland. When the network gets up and running it will be – in total council area – the biggest single public Wi-Fi network in Australia. The Queensland Government contributed $15,000 to jumpstart the pilot, and Winton Shire Council is also pitching in. RAPAD will fund the extension of the Outback Telegraph smart tourism platform to all key centres in the region, reaching some of the most remote communities in the state. Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said: “This is about driving opportunities and using the power of digital connectivity to tell the world about outback Queensland. “Providing more opportunities to go online and do research on-the-go and share pictures and stories will be good for tourists and trade in small rural towns. I congratulate Winton Shire Council for taking the ground-breaking steps to provide free public Wi-Fi in the outback, and government officers in Rockhampton and Brisbane who worked with councils to make it happen.” RAPAD board member and Mayor of Barcoo Shire Council, Bruce Scott said the next stage of the regional Wi-Fi network will add more locations, including Longreach, Barcaldine and Windorah. “A single sign-on for the Central West means visitors won’t have to re-enter their details as they move around, making it much more convenient to stay connected during their travels,” he said. “This is the first step towards making the Central West a smart region, where technology supports important local industries like tourism, and makes our communities better connected and more liveable.” Winton Mayor Cr Butch Lenton acknowledged the pulling power of public Wi-Fi. “It will be a magnet to people with mobile devices who are a long way from their family and friends and travelling around the countryside,” he said. “Connectivity is essential to running businesses in rural Queensland, and for travellers, and I’m proud our council is pioneering a terrific project that is crossing new boundaries.” Visitors will be able to connect to the network through the Outback Telegraph app, which will be available from Google and Apple in coming days. The mobile app can also interact with smart beacons placed around town, allowing the user to access additional information about local businesses, receive a coupon or special offer; and guide them on discovery walks. Mayor Lenton said Winton Shire Council is collecting tourism statistics from the free Wi-Fi to show how visitors are moving through the region and where they are and are not stopping. “We can build stronger businesses with this data. Winton has a rich history that includes the Great Shearers’ Strike, Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda, Qantas, and a dinosaur stampede, and also opal fields and a wide variety of animals and bird life in the area," he said. “Free Wi-Fi can help us share our stories, history and visitor experiences on social channels to entice more tourists and encourage them to stay longer once they’re here,” he said. The Outback Telegraph will be showcased at this week’s Bush Councils Convention in Charters Towers, with RAPAD also hoping to hold an upcoming ‘hacking’ event for the Central West to come up with ideas leveraging the regional Wi-Fi, app and beacons. [post_title] => RAPAD to deliver WiFi to outback councils [post_excerpt] => The Outback Telegraph proposes to switch on public Wi-Fi in many of Queensland's remote areas. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => rapad-deliver-wifi-outback-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:05:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:05:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27795 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27804 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-10 09:12:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-09 23:12:50 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27806" align="alignnone" width="300"] Photo courtesy of SBS.[/caption] Cristy Clark, Southern Cross University The New South Wales state government has passed legislation empowering police to dismantle the Martin Place homeless camp in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. This follows similar actions in Victoria, where police cleared a homeless camp outside Flinders Street Station. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle proposed a bylaw to ban rough sleeping in the city. In March, the UN special rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, censured the City of Melbourne’s actions, stating that:"… the criminalisation of homelessness is deeply concerning and violates international human rights law."As the special rapporteur highlighted, homelessness is already “a gross violation of the right to adequate housing”. To further discriminate against people rendered homeless by systemic injustice is prohibited under international human rights law.
Further reading: Ban on sleeping rough does nothing to fix the problems of homelessness
Real problem is lack of affordable housingIn contrast to her Melbourne counterpart, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore had been adopting a more human-rights-based approach to resolving the challenges presented by the Martin Place camp. After negotiating with camp organisers, Moore made it clear her council would not disperse the camp until permanent housing was found for all of the residents. As she pointed out:"You can’t solve homelessness without housing — what we urgently need is more affordable housing and we urgently need the New South Wales government to step up and do their bit."It’s no secret that housing affordability in both Sydney and Melbourne has reached crisis point. And homelessness is an inevitable consequence of this. But we have seen little real action from government to resolve these issues. The NSW government has been offering people temporary crisis accommodation or accommodation on the outskirts of the city. This leaves them isolated from community and without access to services. In contrast, these inner-city camps don’t just provide shelter, food, safety and community; they also send a powerful political message to government that it must act to resolve the housing affordability crisis. Having established well-defined rules of conduct, a pool of shared resources and access to free shelter and food, the Martin Place camp can be seen as part of the commons movement. This movement seeks to create alternative models of social organisation to challenge the prevailing market-centric approaches imposed by neoliberalism and to reclaim the Right to the City.
Further reading: Suburbanising the centre: the government’s anti-urban agenda for Sydney
We should be uncomfortableIt is not surprising that right-wing pundits have described these camps as “eyesores” or that they make NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian “completely uncomfortable”. The breach of human rights these camps represent, and the challenge they pose to the current system, should make people uncomfortable. Unlike most comparable nations, Australia has very limited legal protections for human rights. In this context, actions like the Martin Place and Flinders Street camps are one of the few options available to victims of systemic injustice to exercise their democratic right to hold government to account. In seeking to sweep this issue under the carpet, both the City of Melbourne and the NSW government are not only further breaching the right to adequate housing, they are also trying to silence political protest. It is clear from Moore’s demands, and the NSW government’s own actions, that the Martin Place camp is working to create pressure for action. What will motivate the government to resolve this crisis once the camps have been dispersed? As Nelson Mandela argued in 1991 at the ANC’s Bill of Rights Conference:"A simple vote, without food, shelter and health care, is to use first-generation rights as a smokescreen to obscure the deep underlying forces which dehumanise people. It is to create an appearance of equality and justice, while by implication socioeconomic inequality is entrenched. "We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom. We must provide for all the fundamental rights and freedoms associated with a democratic society."Mandela’s words were hugely relevant to apartheid South Africa, where a ruling elite had established a deeply racist and unjust system that linked political disenfranchisement and material deprivation. But they also resonate today in Australia where inequality is on the rise – driven in large part by disparities in property ownership. Homelessness is a deeply dehumanising force that strips people of access to fundamental rights. The policies that are creating this crisis must be seen as unacceptable breaches of human rights. We need to start asking whether our current economic system is compatible with a truly democratic society. Cristy Clark, Lecturer in Law, Southern Cross University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Clearing homeless camps will make the problem worse [post_excerpt] => "You can’t solve homelessness without housing." [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => clearing-homeless-camps-will-make-problem-worse [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:22:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:22:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27804 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27754 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 08:55:38 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27755" align="alignnone" width="287"]
Cr Jennifer Alden, Craig Lloyd and Cr Andrea Metcalf (L-R).[/caption] Recent audits of local waste and recycling bins have shown that Greater Bendigo residents are still sending significant amounts of recyclables straight to landfill by placing many items that could be recycled into their waste bins. In an effort to improve recycling rates, the City of Greater Bendigo has launched a new community education Sort it out before you throw it out! advertising campaign. The campaign will provide useful information about the items that residents are currently not recycling to make them aware that they can. It will utilise television, radio, print, social media and signage to encourage residents to think about and improve the way they sort their waste, organics and recycling. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets director Craig Lloyd said the City’s recent waste bin audits showed that 40% of the contents of local waste bins should have been placed in the recycling bin while 22 per cent could have gone in the organics bin. “The audit is backed up by State Government figures that place Greater Bendigo in the bottom 50 per cent of Victoria’s 79 local government areas for waste resource recovery,” said Mr Lloyd. “Unfortunately, many Greater Bendigo residents are still placing recyclables such as paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cans, plastics and organic garden and food waste in their red lid waste bin. “Objects that can be recycled are a valuable resource and the cost of sending waste to landfill will continue to rise so the more we recycle and the less we send to landfill the better. “Greater Bendigo wants to become one of, if not the best, local government area for resource recovery in the future. “Many people may be surprised to learn that Greater Bendigo residents are not very good at recycling and we want to see this change for the better in the near future.” Results from the audit:-
- The average residential red lid waste bin contains 40% recyclable items, 22% organics and 38% actual waste.
- The recyclable materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.
- The organic materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly grass clippings and leaves, general food waste and food in packaging.
- The average residential recycling bin contains 9% contamination. This is comprised of 5.3% general waste and 3.7% of materials such as clothing, crockery and scrap metal that cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling collection.
- The average organics bin contains 2% contamination. This is comprised of 1% general waste and 1% recyclables such as glass, plastics and metals.
- Burwood, City of Canada Bay and Strathfield Municipal councils
- Hornsby Shire and Ku-ring-gai councils
- Hunter’s Hill, Lane Cove and City of Ryde councils
- Mosman Municipal, North Sydney and Willoughby City councils
- Randwick City, Waverley and Woollahra Municipal councils
- What are the transport goals and what services are required to foster growth, jobs and prosperity?
- Where are the investments required to achieve these goals?
- National Top Collector per Capita – District Council of Orroroo – Carrieton (SA).
- NSW Top Collector – New South Wales – Hornsby Shire Council.
- Territory Top Collector – Northern Territory – Alice Springs Town Council.
- QLD Top Collector – Queensland – Brisbane City Council.
- WA Top Collector – Western Australia – City of Stirling.
- SA Top Collector – South Australia – City of Onkaparinga.
- TAS Top Collector – Tasmania – Burnie City Council.
- VIC Top Collector – Victoria – Moonee Valley City Council.
- Hornsby Shire Council
- City of Sydney
- Randwick City Council
- Lake Macquarie City Council
- Burwood Council
- Alice Springs Town Council
- East Arnhem Shire Council
- West Arnhem Regional Council
- Brisbane City Council
- Redland City Council
- Townsville City Council
- Scenic Rim Regional Council
- Cairns Regional Council
- City of Onkaparinga
- City of Charles Sturt
- City of Tea Tree Gully
- City of Mitcham
- City of Port Adelaide Enfield
- Burnie City Council
- Launceston City Council
- Glenorchy City Council
- Break O’Day Council
- Kingborough Council
- Moonee Valley City Council
- Nillumbik Shire Council
- City of Monash
- Latrobe City Council
- City of Greater Geelong
- City of Stirling
- City of South Perth
- City of Fremantle
- City of Cockburn
- City of Vincent
- $4.2 billion over four years for education infrastructure, including building new schools and upgrading others
- A cash injection of $7.7 billion over four years for new hospitals and hospital upgrades
- Public transport, road building and rail gets $73 billion, including WestConnex, Sydney Metro City rail line and the Pacific Highway upgrade
- Spending $20.1 million to complete the Service NSW network of service centres by transitioning 24 motor registries in regional and rural communities to Service NSW service centres.
- Art Gallery of NSW expansion worth $244 million
- A $1.2 billion package for first home buyers, including stamp duty relief and heavier foreign investor charges
- $63.2 million to improve child protection, including additional caseworkers, case managers, and case support workers
The Outback Telegraph proposes to switch on public Wi-Fi in many of Queensland’s remote areas.
“You can’t solve homelessness without housing.”
City of Greater Bendigo has launched a community recycling education campaign.
Standing for election, selling off assets… council administrators are in the firing line.
While most councils are rejoicing, the future is still uncertain.
Melbourne is recycling cigarette butts into plastic industrial products.
Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that first- and last-mile issues in freight must also be addressed.
Hornsby Council resolves to seek the return of its lost territory.
Recycling of old mobile phones by councils is up 25%, to 4.5 tonnes.
Win for the regions.
Machines built for the long haul.