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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-14 12:55:26
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 02:55:26
                    [post_content] => 

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that the waste fiasco exposed in the ABC Four Corners report is a complex issue that will have wide-ranging implications for local governments.

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.
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                    [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.
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                    [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 housing

In 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 uncomfortable

It 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. The ConversationHomelessness 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 ) [3] => 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.
  [post_title] => Recycling audit hopes to educate [post_excerpt] => City of Greater Bendigo has launched a community recycling education campaign. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => recycling-audit-hopes-educate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-03 08:55:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27754 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27748 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 17:02:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 07:02:40 [post_content] => As the council amalgamations fiasco rolls on, it is becoming apparent that for some of the administrators, being lavished millions of dollars of government funds to spend at their discretion is becoming too strong an attraction to say goodbye to at the coming elections. Standing for elections So far at least two administrators have declared their intention to stand for office at the coming council elections. Queanbeyan-Palerang administrator Tim Overall and Armidale regional administrator Ian Tiley have both confirmed they will be standing for election, despite what many believe is an obvious conflict of interest in their current positions as administrators. The Greens believe the Premier must immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations. Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “It’s not unlawful, but there is no doubt that it is deeply inappropriate for administrators to be running for council elections. “These administrators have been given an enormous platform in their local communities over the last 18 months, not to mention access to millions of dollars in council funds and community grants. “There is an obvious conflict of interest if administrators are now putting their hand up to run at the upcoming local government elections, after being given the role of a cashed-up local despot for 18 months. “These individuals have had well over a year to implement their agenda and build on their existing local profile, they should not be able to run at the upcoming elections. “The Liberal National government’s forced amalgamation mess continues to be plagued with dysfunction, and as always they treat residents and ratepayers like mugs. “Any competent government would have outlawed this practice; instead we have the Liberal Nationals in charge. “If the Premier had any respect for local communities, she would immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations for council.” Mr Shoebridge said. In the meantime in Sydney, a NSW Government-appointed administrator is seeking to sell off commercial waste services on the eve of council elections United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly said a forcibly-merged council in Sydney’s west has come under fire after it was revealed that it will no longer be able to provide waste services to more than 1,000 commercial and trade customers, following a decision to outsource domestic waste services and sell off its fleet of garbage trucks. Cumberland Council, which was formed following the forced merger of Holroyd Council with Auburn and parts of Parramatta, has admitted in council business papers that as a result of the controversial decision by NSW Government-appointed administrator Viv May to outsource domestic waste services, the council would no longer be able to provide services to commercial clients, either. In June, Mr May awarded a $68 million contract to United Resource Management to run domestic waste services for ten years, Mr Kelly said. “The sale of Council’s fleet means Council will not be able to service its trade and commercial waste customers in the future,” the council document states. Mr May is expected to use the next council meeting — the final one before democracy is restored with the election of new councillors next month — to approve a plan to seek expressions of interest from private waste operators to also take over Cumberland Council’s commercial waste operations. Mr Kelly, whose union represents more than 30,000 local government workers across the state, said the NSW Government needed to urgently intervene to prevent the loss of further services ahead of new councillors being elected. “Just a week after Premier Gladys Berejiklian publicly abandoned the NSW Government’s failed policy of forcibly amalgamating councils, one of her government’s administrators is making a last-ditch effort to sell off community services before council elections can take place next month,” Mr Kelly said. “During the past month, this unelected and unaccountable administrator has locked ratepayers into a costly outsourcing arrangement for the next decade, decided to sell the fleet of garbage collection vehicles, and now intends to do the same with commercial waste services. “There are more than 1,000 businesses that will be impacted by this decision, yet there has been no consultation with them, the broader community, or workers. “Having an appointed administrator making major decisions on the eve of elections, including the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts and the sale of council assets, is completely unacceptable and is one of the reasons communities across the state fought so hard against these forced mergers. “Premier Berejiklian and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton need to urgently intervene to stop the unelected administrator of Cumberland Council from selling assets, cutting services, or entering contracts, with all decisions instead held over until a democratically elected council retakes the reins,” Mr Kelly said. … and Woollahra wants its money back Waverley Councillor John Wakefield believes the administrator has engaged in building a castle-in-the-air and is keen to seek state government re-imbursement for the costs of the merger. “With the merger called off, we have certainty about the future of the eastern suburbs councils,” Cr Wakefield said. “Let’s now consider what the ratepayers of Waverley have paid to jump through the hoops of the State Government’s mega-merger fantasy.” While Woollahra Council and its Mayor led the opposition against the merger, Waverley Council and its Mayor went about setting up Waverley for the merger with Randwick and an unwilling Woollahra. According to Cr Wakefield, a team of Waverley staff has been working for two years on the merger. Consultants were hired to prepare detailed reports on management and staffing structures under a merged council, facilities and office accommodation requirements, vehicle and truck fleet management issues, maintenance contracts, IT systems integration, and numerous other complex issues requiring detailed plans. “We estimate that well over $500,000 was spent by Waverley Council in direct costs to consultants, while hundreds and hundreds of hours of senior council staff time was occupied in meetings, preparing reports, workshopping the incredible complexity of merging three large organisations together whilst attempting to maintain work levels and resident expectations of service delivery. “Simultaneously and additional to this, Waverley Council under Mayor Betts also hired consultants and allocated a significant amount of staff time on a proposal to re-develop Council’s Library and adjacent buildings. This has been marketed as the ‘Civic Heart’ precinct. It was actually a feasibility study to house a merged council’s town hall. “Mayor Betts was preparing to spend a significant amount of ratepayers money to house a now abandoned merged Eastern Suburbs Council,” he said. This Civic Heart project has an allocation of $80 million in Waverley Council’s forward budget but would have in reality cost in the order of $120 million. Combined with Mayor Betts’ grand project for the Bondi Pavilion with a budget of $40 million, this would have exhausted Waverley’s $130 million capital works reserve totally. “We will now be seeking re-imbursement from the State Government of all expenditure related to the merger proposal. “If our motion is successful, a more precise figure will be calculated by Council’s General Manager, but we estimate the total cost to ratepayers of over $2 million wasted in the last two years.” [post_title] => Council administrators: caretakers or career builders? [post_excerpt] => Standing for election, selling off assets... council administrators are in the firing line. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-administrators-caretakers-career-builders [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-04 11:09:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-04 01:09:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27748 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27724 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-28 12:16:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-28 02:16:20 [post_content] => It has now been a full 24 hours since the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that proposed council mergers before the courts will not proceed, and the original rejoicing and merriment in the streets is being replaced by anger and – well, more uncertainty. “Due to the protracted nature of current legal challenges and the uncertainty this is causing ratepayers, those council amalgamations currently before the courts will not proceed,” the announcement said. “We want to see councils focusing on delivering the best possible services and local infrastructure to their residents. That is why we are drawing a line under this issue today and ending the uncertainty,” the Premier said. The following proposed mergers will not proceed:
  • 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
Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton said it was important for local communities to have certainty in the lead up to the September local government elections. “The Government remains committed to reducing duplication, mismanagement and waste by councils so communities benefit from every dollar spent,” Ms Upton said. Naturally, most of the merged councils now want to explore de-merging, and the once who had put up a fight, want to recover their legal costs. And of course the Premier did not, and refuses to, guarantee that the mergers will not be attempted again past the elections. Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose MLC said: “The justification for forced mergers has been a political fix from day one. The Government must release the KPMG report and stop avoiding scrutiny. “Premier Gladys Berejiklian has failed to rule out forced council amalgamations beyond 2019. As well, the Government must release the secret $400,000 KPMG report used by the former Premier to justify the forced mergers.” NSW Labor is now demanding Premier Berejiklian allow communities in forcibly merged councils to hold referendums to choose whether or not to demerge. Not our fault: developers Whilst developer lobby group Urban Taskforce was keen on the amalgamations, it distanced itself from the NSW Government’s version. “The Urban Taskforce originally proposed a council reform that had a district structure for planning decisions and left local matters to local councils,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “The NSW Government’s back down on their version of council reform means the scale of thinking about growth will now be local not regional. The value of larger councils was to move management and planning to a less local and more regional level but it seems the government’s processes were not legally tight and appeals have delayed the process leading to uncertainty for all. “The Urban Taskforce believes that the NSW Government must now play a much stronger role in driving housing supply with councils only focussing on local issues.” “The Urban Taskforce is concerned that today’s back down indicates a less reformist approach by the NSW Government than its previous position. This more cautious approach a year and a half before the next state election could put many important initiatives on hold.” Let’s have some stability The association of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW welcomed the government’s announcement on council amalgamations, bringing sector stability before September elections. “The uncertainty the amalgamations agenda have brought to the sector have been a huge resource drain on local councils and have distracted the sector from much needed reform to address sector innovation, misconduct in local government, cost shifting, rate pegging and professional development,” said general manager of Hunter’s Hill Council and president of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW Barry Smith. “We were engaged from the start of the reform process back in late 2011 where the entire local government sector came together to develop real solutions. Regrettably, the focus shifted toward amalgamations, and it is a shame it has taken six years for the State Government to allow all councils to get on with the job of delivering for their community.” The Independent Local Government Review Panel, which first proposed amalgamations, included 64 other recommendations to improve council performance. “Despite sector uncertainty, we have been committed to providing sector wide professional development opportunities, significant council improvement programs and support for councils going through amalgamations. “With this change in policy, we would welcome Minister Upton proactively re-engaging with the sector to ensure that real reform issues raised during the Destination 2036 discussions are dealt with. We must all refocus on supporting innovative council practices and solutions to improve performance, and address critical workforce shortfalls,” chief executive officer Annalisa Haskell said. Back to the courts Without exception, the councils that fought the merger are expected to put in a claim to recover their legal expenses. Additionally, many of the 20 merged councils will seek to de-merge or at least hold plebiscites. And the ones that wanted to merge? Hornsby Shire Council welcomed its proposed merger with Ku-ring-gai, which involved it ceding lucrative rate areas in Epping to Parramatta Council. Parramatta Council happily took these areas while Ku-ring-gai decided to fight, leaving Hornsby in the lurch. [post_title] => Councils: first the clarity, now for the confusion [post_excerpt] => While most councils are rejoicing, the future is still uncertain. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-first-clarity-now-confusion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-28 12:16:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-28 02:16:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27724 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27685 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-24 20:05:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-24 10:05:44 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27686" align="alignnone" width="300"] This box is filled with 200,000 cigarette butts displayed to highlight the impact that littering has on streets and waterways.[/caption] The City of Melbourne has become one of only two councils in Australia to run a citywide initiative to recycle millions of cigarette butts into industrial products. “We collect more than 200,000 cigarette butts each week from 367 cigarette butt bins across the city: litter that may otherwise end up being washed down drains and into the Yarra River,” Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC said. “Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and break down slowly. As part of this project, we will recycle binned cigarette butts into practical items such as shipping pallets and plastic furniture. “We have collected 1.2 million butts from around Melbourne’s universities and hospitals and busy CBD locations that can be recycled.” The City of Melbourne has partnered with Enviropoles, which collects the cigarette waste, and TerraCycle, which converts the butts into plastic products. The project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Litter Hotspots program. Studies have shown that of the four disposal routes (recycling, litter, landfill, and incineration), recycling the cigarette butts has the lowest global warming impact. The City of Melbourne has placed a perspex box filled with 200,000 cigarette butts on the banks of the Yarra River to highlight the impact that littering has on the city’s streets and waterways. Chairwoman of the City of Melbourne’s Environment portfolio Councillor Cathy Oke said the project has been completed in Vancouver and New Orleans before, but Melbourne is leading the charge in Victoria to tackle recycling cigarette waste. “Cities around the world are looking for new ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, and Melbourne is leading the way,” Cr Oke said “Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia. Butts are commonly mistaken for food by marine life and have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures.” The Perspex box full of cigarette butts was placed in Queensbridge Square, where three solar compaction litter bins are located. Cr Oke said the City of Melbourne is installing more than 360 smart bins in the CBD following a successful trial of 17 bins last year. “We collect around nine million butts in our litter bins every year. We hope this project will motivate smokers to place their cigarette butts in one of the butt bins located around the CBD.” Previous surveys have found that around 10,500 cigarette butts from the central city are being deposited on the ground every day. The City of Melbourne spends approximately $13 million on waste services each year (collection and disposal).   [post_title] => Butts into better things [post_excerpt] => Melbourne is recycling cigarette butts into plastic industrial products. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => we-want-your-butt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-25 12:21:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-25 02:21:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27685 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27626 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-17 14:30:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-17 04:30:11 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27632" align="alignnone" width="296"] ALGA President Mayor David O'Loughlin.[/caption] Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that while the corridor protection measures put forward by Infrastructure Australia are important and worthwhile, the Federal Government must also address first- and last-mile issues. Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) recent paper, Corridor Protection: Planning and investing for the long term, outlines the case for securing and protecting land corridors for future infrastructure projects. They stress that a relatively modest investment today can pay substantial dividends tomorrow. ALGA has always strongly advocated for more integrated transport planning and so we support the report. However, it doesn't stress enough the importance of first and last mile issues we know enable freight to get to its destination, people to get to work, and raw materials to get to on-shore and off-shore markets. According to the National Transport Commission (NTC), road freight grew six-fold over the period 1971 to 2007. The freight task is projected to double by 2030 and treble by 2050. This growth is an indicator of the economic activity that we must begin to plan for today. We must ask ourselves:
  • 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?
Many councils are already answering these tough questions by investing in regional transport plans that identify key transport routes and linkages, and investment opportunities at the local and regional level. However, for this work, to have the impact required, to make productivity gains across the country, local government needs additional support from the Commonwealth. ALGA continues to call for a federal investment of $200 million per annum over five years to establish a Local Freight Productivity Investment Plan to partner with local councils and ensure that first mile/last mile and freight connectivity issues are addressed to improve national productivity. As well as road reform and additional funding requirements, road managers need to work in partnership with transport operators and other levels of government to provide roads and road services that are fit for purpose. A business-as-usual approach will not address this issue. As emphasised by IA, we must make the right infrastructure decisions today to accommodate and meet our growing freight task, increase productivity, create jobs and help create the transport infrastructure for the future prosperity of our nation. These are some of the key messages ALGA will include in its submission to the National Freight and Supply Chain Inquiry currently being undertaken by the federal government. Submissions are due by 28 July 2017 and I encourage all councils to join us and independently make a submission identifying their first and last mile freight priorities. The seven strategic corridors singled out by IA are: East Coast High Speed Rail, Outer Sydney Orbital, Outer Melbourne Ring, Western Sydney Airport Rail Line, Western Sydney Freight Line, Hunter Valley Freight Line, and Port of Brisbane Freight Line. Further information, including the full report, is available on the Infrastructure Australia website. More information about the inquiry and how to make a submission is available on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website. The email address for submissions is freightstrategy@infrastructure.gov.au.   [post_title] => More action needed to protect vital infrastructure corridors [post_excerpt] => Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that first- and last-mile issues in freight must also be addressed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => action-needed-protect-vital-infrastructure-corridors [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-17 22:20:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-17 12:20:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27626 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27608 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-13 22:10:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-13 12:10:05 [post_content] => Hornsby Shire Council has voted to submit a proposal to the NSW Government seeking the return of territory that was lost last year. In May 2016, the NSW Government removed the land south of the M2 Motorway from Hornsby Shire and gave it to the City of Parramatta Council. “We didn’t agree with the loss of that territory,” Hornsby Shire Mayor Steve Russell said. “The government’s declared purpose of its local government reform was to create larger and more financially secure councils, a proposition we agree with in the 21st Century with increasing need for bigger and better facilities." The loss of Epping and other suburbs south of the M2 Motorway has had a severe negative impact on council’s budget, with a reduction of more than $9 million in the recurrent budget surplus. “This is very frustrating, particularly when Hornsby Shire Council was one of the most efficient councils in NSW and an active supporter of the government’s plans for reform. “With Ku-ring-gai Council’s win in court, it is not clear what the government’s position is in regard to continuing with the amalgamation of Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai councils. “We are asking the government to return our lost territory if the amalgamation does not proceed.” An olive branch At this week’s meeting, council also resolved to prepare a second submission that would see a redrawing of the Shire’s southern boundary. It is a compromise proposal that would allow Carlingford to remain in the City of Parramatta and consolidate the Epping town centre in Hornsby Shire. “This proposal would give council added financial security, whilst it would also avoid returning to the situation of having significant town centres managed by multiple councils,” Mayor Russell said. A rebuke of major proportions The Greens, who have been fighting council amalgamations from the outset, see the Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council’s frustrations as the final nail in the coffin of the merger idea. The coalition has lost its last ally in local government, as Hornsby Council delivers a 'stinging rebuke' to the Berejiklian forced amalgamation mess, the Greens said. Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council is the last remaining elected council that supported the Coalition's forced amalgamations. Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said: "Every rat is leaving the Coalition's forced council amalgamations ship and it's well and truly time that Captain Berejiklian scuttled the whole affair. "The Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council had been one of the few elected councils that supported the Coalition's forced amalgamations because they thought they would gobble up Ku-ring-gai. "Now its planned take-over of Ku-ring-gai Council has fallen over, Hornsby Council has turned against the Berejiklian government and is demanding its high-rating land back. "The decision to hand over parts of Epping and Carlingford to Parramatta Council was never about the best interests of those residents, it was designed to deliver money and Liberal votes for a super-sized Parramatta Council. "Treating residents as pawns in the Coalition's politicised boundary changes and forced amalgamations is a very low form of politics that the Greens fundamentally reject. "While there are good democratic and financial reasons to see Hornsby Council restored, it is deeply troubling that the Liberal Council says it wants the decision reversed to get back 'developable assets in the Epping area worth between $50 million to $100 million'" "No Council should be eying off public land solely as a development opportunity. The Greens support restoring Hornsby Council to its former boundaries, but it must be with a promise to keep scarce public land in public hands," Mr Shoebridge said. The council report states: "Council's view is that our ratepayers are likely to judge both the council and the government harshly if council seeks a rate variation to recover a significant portion of the lost revenue.  "The NSW Government's execution of its local government reform agenda has to date comprehensively failed the residents and ratepayers of Hornsby Shire.  "The matter has been made worse by the NSW Government's subsequent inaction and apparent indecisions.  "The council is not even able to carry out something as fundamental as the appointment of a permanent general manager, and has now appointed it's third acting general manager since August 2015.  "No other council in NSW has been subjected to such a significant loss of territory, on top of an amalgamation. The situation is worsened by the fact that the NSW Government never signalled its intention to transfer the area south of the M2 Motorway to Parramatta.  "Since the areas south of the M2 Motorway were removed from Hornsby Shire Council, there have been no formal surveys or other research into the opinions among the local community.  "By the government's action and inaction, it's strongest supporter of local government reform has been left weaker with less scale and capacity than before. And it is the only local government where this has occurred." [post_title] => Give us our land back [post_excerpt] => Hornsby Council resolves to seek the return of its lost territory. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => give-us-land-back [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-13 22:19:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-13 12:19:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27608 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27487 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-27 07:17:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-26 21:17:58 [post_content] => The mobile phone industry’s product stewardship program MobileMuster has commended the efforts of local councils who have dramatically increased their collections and helped make recycling more accessible to the community. Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP Minister for Environment and Energy said eight councils from across Australia were recognised as Australia’s top recyclers. “Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste issues in Australia and it’s great to see MobileMuster bringing industry and local government together to make it easy to recycle and deliver important environmental benefits to our communities.” The top achievers The following councils took out top honours in the awards:
  • 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.
Recycling manager for MobileMuster Spyro Kalos said: “While council collections have been steadily growing in the last couple of years, it’s great to see an even higher lift this year with councils helping inform and educate their residents about recycling.” “In the last year, councils have increased their collections by a huge 25% and recycled over 4.5 tonnes of mobiles phone and components through the program. “Over the last decade, local government partners have collected 35 tonnes of mobiles phone components for recycling, including approximately 420,000 handsets and batteries. “However, with an estimated 23 million old mobile phones sitting in drawers waiting to be recycled, including five million that are broken and no longer working, MobileMuster will continue to work with councils to encourage residents to recycle responsibly,” Mr Kalos said. The top Mobile Muster councils in each state were: New South Wales
  1. Hornsby Shire Council
  2. City of Sydney
  3. Randwick City Council
  4. Lake Macquarie City Council
  5. Burwood Council
Northern Territory
  1. Alice Springs Town Council
  2. East Arnhem Shire Council
  3. West Arnhem Regional Council
Queensland
  1. Brisbane City Council
  2. Redland City Council
  3. Townsville City Council
  4. Scenic Rim Regional Council
  5. Cairns Regional Council
South Australia
  1. City of Onkaparinga
  2. City of Charles Sturt
  3. City of Tea Tree Gully
  4. City of Mitcham
  5. City of Port Adelaide Enfield
Tasmania
  1. Burnie City Council
  2. Launceston City Council
  3. Glenorchy City Council
  4. Break O’Day Council
  5. Kingborough Council
Victoria
  1. Moonee Valley City Council
  2. Nillumbik Shire Council
  3. City of Monash
  4. Latrobe City Council
  5. City of Greater Geelong
Western Australia
  1. City of Stirling
  2. City of South Perth
  3. City of Fremantle
  4. City of Cockburn
  5. City of Vincent
[post_title] => Council recycling up 25% [post_excerpt] => Recycling of old mobile phones by councils is up 25%, to 4.5 tonnes. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-recycling-25 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-27 11:23:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-27 01:23:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27487 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27454 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-23 13:30:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:30:41 [post_content] => NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announcing the 2017 NSW Budget. Pic:YouTube.      NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has sprinkled some of his budgetary largesse on local councils and stumped up billions for infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, bike paths and sports facilities and set up a new fund to kickstart a regional economic renaissance in the state. Mr Perrottet’s first budget was fuelled by a $4.5 billion surplus with coffers swollen from the NSW property boom and a major asset sell-off and local government will be more than pleased to rake in some of the spoils gained from stamp duty and the polls and wires sell off. For the Budget NSW overview click here. A new $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund has been established, focusing on lifting regional economic growth. There are six funds, including strands for infrastructure; sports facilities; improving voice and data connectivity; upgrades to parks, community centres and playgrounds and building and upgrading arts and cultural venues. Another strand also deals specifically with investing in infrastructure for mining communities. Councils, industry, regional organisations and community groups can apply to the funds, which tie in with the NSW government’s 30-year Regional Development Framework. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said the announcement was a positive one for the regions. "LGNSW looks forward to more information from the Deputy Premier's office on how this funding will be allocated and the opportunities for our sector, but overall this looks like very good news for regional communities. "This goes to show that the government does listen when the community speaks, and particularly so when they make their voice heard at the ballot box.” Central Coast Council Administrator, Ian Reynolds, said as he was particularly pleased with the promise to allocate 30 percent of infrastructure spending to the regions. “The $6 billion injection is significant and recognises that regions like the coast are attracting more people who are looking for a better lifestyle away from the big cities and require improved infrastructure to meet their growing needs,” Mr Reynolds. “Roads are a key priority for council because our community wants better roads and it is pleasing to see such a significant injection by the state government into roads here on the coast.” The regions also won another victory, with the government allocating $100 million for palliative care services and staff training, with much of this expected to flow to rural areas where there have been complaints about the dearth of services available. In addition, the government will spend $258 million on supporting and regulating local government through the Office of Local Government, including $2.1 million to optimise the Companion Animals Register and Pet Registry to improve user experience and enhance functionality. But it is not simply a one-way street with all give and no take. Local councils will feel the heat from Mr Perrottet’s push to accelerate house building in the state, including 30,000 new homes in priority precincts in Sydney. The NSW government will spend almost $70 million to speed up major development approvals and help councils rezone land quicker, including $19 million to establish a specialist team to rezone and to help councils accelerate rezonings. Also in the budget is $11.8 million for online, cloud-based housing development applications, especially to help regional councils and small metropolitan councils with low capability. Other key budget points
  • $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
[post_title] => NSW Budget: the impact on local councils [post_excerpt] => Win for the regions. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-budget-impact-local-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-23 13:36:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:36:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27454 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27369 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 12:00:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 02:00:08 [post_content] =>   By Charles Pauka CASE builds the machines for the long haul. And as councils typically keep their plant and equipment for 8+ years, they can rest assured knowing that their CASE machine will not only perform for its first life with Council, but continue to perform through its 2nd and 3rd lives once replaced and sold to a new owner. For performance, reliability and resale value, councils around Australia continue to place their trust in CASE equipment – again and again. Founded in 1842, CASE Construction Equipment has over the last 175 years built a reputation as a leading and respected global manufacturer of construction equipment. Today, CASE offers a full line of equipment with over 90 different models around the world, including heavy excavators, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, skid-steer loaders, mini excavators, and backhoe loaders. CASE equipment and technologies deliver productivity, efficiency, fuel economy and cost-effectiveness to the benefit of its customers’ bottom line. CASE innovates to design equipment that is intuitive and straightforward to use so that operators maximise their productivity. GovernmentNews.com.au would like to congratulate CASE Construction Equipment on its 175 years of building productivity, and to celebrate, you can view a comprehensive and informative guide to CASE’s history, products and capabilities by clicking on this link. Government agencies and contractors need access to a full line of equipment, including heavy excavators, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, skid-steer loaders, mini excavators, and backhoe loaders, for maximum productivity and fast results. Read on to find out where to get your hands on the best equipment and back-up in Australia today. Full report here.    [post_title] => Governments trust CASE [post_excerpt] => Machines built for the long haul. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27369 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 10:47:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-20 00:47:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27369 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27411 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 11:22:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 01:22:15 [post_content] =>   The community impact statements (CIS) that NSW pubs, bottle shops, bars and clubs must submit when applying for liquor licenses are being reviewed for the first time in nine years. Community impact statements require the applicant to gather community views on the potential impact that granting a new liquor licence could have on a neighbourhood. These statements must include community opposition or support for the licence. NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole announced earlier this week that Liquor and Gaming NSW will be reviewing the process and is asking for community and industry feedback. “It’s important that those potentially affected by liquor licences have input into the assessment process, whether they be residents, councils, police or others,” Mr Toole said. “But it’s also important that pubs, bars and other venues can continue to provide options for people who want to socialise and enjoy themselves.” The review will examine issues such as: • Whether CIS adequately capture local community views • Are concerns being accurately reported by applicants via the CIS? • Does the CIS identify the risks and benefits of a proposed liquor licence? • Are there opportunities to cut red tape and minimise delays in the CIS process? • Is the feedback and information collected via the CIS useful when deciding applications? • Do the benefits of the CIS justify the costs or time placed on businesses, local residents and other stakeholders? • Are there any applications or venues currently included or excluded from the CIS that should not be? Meanwhile, AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green, welcomed the review, telling Intermedia stablemate TheShout: “The current system has been in place for quite some time, so AHA NSW looks forward to taking part in this review process on behalf of our members.” Submissions close on Wednesday 26 July. Have your say here.  [post_title] => Community feedback on NSW liquor licences reviewed [post_excerpt] => First review in nine years. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => community-feedback-nsw-liquor-licenses-reviewed [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-16 12:02:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-16 02:02:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27411 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27402 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 10:40:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 00:40:21 [post_content] => Hilltops Council is one of the NSW councils facing a bill for its merger. Pic: Facebook.   The NSW government has left some councils with hefty bills to pay since their forced amalgamations in May last year. Government News understands that mergers have ended up costing some NSW councils more than the state government merger and transition funding they were given. Rural and regional councils, in particular, are resentful because they received only half of what metropolitan councils were given to cover the process and yet they often receive much less from rates and have lower reserves. Rural and regional councils received $5 million for each merger, while metropolitan councils were handed $10 million for their mergers under the state government’s New Council Implementation Fund (NCIF). But there were caveats. The funding could only be used for certain things, such as getting expert advice and integrating IT systems, but not to pay ongoing staff costs or council administrators, who replace councillors and mayors until the local government elections in September. Councils were also given between $10 to $15 million of Stronger Communities funding to go towards community projects and infrastructure. Despite the funding, some councils are finding there is a reality gap. Hilltops Council, a merger between Boorowa, Harden and Young Councils in the South West Slopes of the state, estimates that it will end up spending $6.5 million on its merger, a shortfall of $1.5 million. Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said residents of the three former council areas would be ‘shaking their heads’ at the figures and wondering where the $1.5 million extra would come from. “Every independent expert said at the start of this process that amalgamations would be more expensive and more disruptive than the government pretended, and now we are seeing this come true,” Mr Shoebridge said. “The incompetence of the Coalition is really staggering, and now they are expecting residents in the local councils they have destroyed to meet the cost of their failure.” Hilltops General Manager Anthony McMahon said he did not understand the logic behind giving rural and regional councils significantly less funding to cover their merger costs than their metro counterparts. “In our case, we’ve been responsible for bringing three councils together that are geographically separated,” Mr McMahon said. “We’re also a water utility and we have additional constraints in relation to having two former councils with populations under 5,000, which means we have to comply with Section 218CA of the Local Government Act.  These factors are not a consideration for metro councils.” The council will finalise its transitional costs and then consider whether to lobby the state government for the money. “We’re focused on ensuring Hilltops Council is adequately resourced to complete the merger process, and will be making representations to Minister Upton accordingly,” Mr McMahon said. “We’ve made clear our determination in ensuring the community does not pay for merger-related costs.” But it is not only regional councils who have been left to pick up the tab for the mergers most of them fought hard against. Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council, an amalgam of Manly, Pittwater and Warringah Councils, received $10 million for its upfront merger costs and has only $105,000 left in the kitty. The council’s biggest outlays were $2.5 million for staff redundancies and $2.8 million for system integration. Northern Beaches Council acknowledges it faces further restructuring costs in the draft of its 2017-2018 Operational Plan. “It is recognised that council will incur further restructuring costs such as the cost of integration, aligning positions within the new organisational structure and new salary system which will exceed the funding provided,” says the plan. “Accordingly the Long Term Financial Plan has been prepared on the basis that once the NCIF has been fully utilised, existing budgets will firstly be used to pay for those merger and transition costs not funded through this mechanism prior to the identification of net savings.” Brian Halstead President of Save Our Councils Coalition, a community group against forced council mergers, said a funding shortfall had always been on the cards. “The amount that the government allowed was based on the KPMG report, which under costed amalgamations and because they’re not allowing councils to book the ongoing staff costs and administrators against the funding,” Mr Halstead said. He said some council staff were spending 25 per cent of their time managing the merger process, including harmonising service delivery and staff pay and conditions, and that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian should stump up the extra cash. “If I was a ratepayer, I would be thinking that these amalgamations have been forced on them by state government. It’s only reasonable that the state government bear the costs of amalgamation but I doubt any of the administrators will [ask] because they’re paid public servants.” Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Keith Rhoades said he was not surprised that merger costs had exceeded the funding available. “LGNSW, along with a number of academics and other experts, argued strongly throughout the process that there was a strong potential for additional costs,” Mr Rhoades said. “It was always clear that the cost of individual amalgamations would vary from council to council depending on readiness, systems compatibility, staff skills etc and in fact this is one reason why forced amalgamations can be more difficult than those that are achieved voluntarily, after extensive meaningful consultation.” Roberta Ryan, Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney, said it was hard to predict the cost of mergers but the state government had given it their best shot at trying to work it out from past experience. She said the cost of mergers would depend partly upon the extent of co-operation between councils before they merged, for example through shared IT systems and services and the level of regulatory harmony in an area. “I understand there has been a shortfall for a number of councils,” Ms Ryan said. “Many regional and rural councils would have found it harder and more expensive because the amount [they were given] was less and some of them may not have been working towards some of these things that some of the metro councils were.” The ability of new councils to absorb any cost blowout was highly variable, she said. “Some councils have good reserves but some of the smaller ones are very strapped financially.” Asked when the true costs and savings from mergers would be known she said: “Not ever - as we don’t have the base line data available - there can be overall benefits and improvements - that may have happened even if the amalgamations didn’t happen.” The Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) would not say whether any NSW councils had approached Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton to fund the shortfall or whether the government would act, should this occur. The DPC statement would only say: “The NSW Government has provided an unprecedented level of support to new local councils. “The NSW Government provided new councils with $375 million to implement the mergers and kick start investment in new services and infrastructure for their residents. “New councils in regional areas received $5 million to cover the costs of merging, as well as $10 million for a merger of two councils or $15 million for a merger of three councils, which is to be used for community, services and infrastructure projects.” [post_title] => NSW councils fork out for forced mergers as government funding dries up [post_excerpt] => Councils could petition Berejiklian for shortfall. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-councils-fork-forced-mergers-government-funding-dries [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-16 14:53:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-16 04:53:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27402 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27811 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-14 12:55:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 02:55:26 [post_content] => Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that the waste fiasco exposed in the ABC Four Corners report is a complex issue that will have wide-ranging implications for local governments. 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. 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