The NSW Government will move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta.
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- The NSW Government purchasing the riverfront site for the Powerhouse Museum (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences).
- The City of Parramatta committing $40 million to fund and grow arts and culture in the community over the next 20 years.
- A partnership between the NSW Government and the Council for a $100 million redevelopment of the Riverside Theatre with the State taking a 50 per cent interest in the project.
Crime is downHowever, in late 2016, the Callinan Review referenced compelling evidence in support of the current policy. According to the latest research, recorded rates of crime are down by around 49% in the designated Kings Cross precinct and 13% in Sydney’s CBD. In contrast, what little research has been produced by opponents of strict nightlife regulation has been criticised as unreliable, inaccurate and poorly deployed. The Callinan Review noted the lack of verifiable claims about the negative impacts of the policy in submissions from the main opponents of the lockout laws. This has led to a great deal of assumption in the final report about where, for example, revellers, jobs, entertainment and revenue might have been displaced to, or how the policy changes affected them. In many respects, the passing over of claims made by anti-lockout groups is rather unfair. These groups are not official state bodies with the capacity to produce the type of data or evidence on which the policy has been justified and defended. As such, their “unscientific” observations and experiences have been largely dismissed. To critically balance and juxtapose opposing claims, more impact data and research are needed.
We must take a city-wide perspectiveIf the lockout policy is judged on the original goal of decreasing crime in designated “hotspots”, then it appears to have been a success. However, from a city-wide perspective there are other issues to consider. Not the least of these is the effects in other nightlife sites across Sydney. Despite initially finding no displacement of violence to nearby nightlife sites, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has just released findings showing significant displacement in rates of recorded non-domestic-related violence in destinations outside the lockout zone. Reported crime rates in Newtown, one of the displacement sites listed in the BOCSAR study (along with Bondi and Double Bay), increased by 17% in the 32 months following the lockouts. These new findings appear to vindicate some local complaints about increased night violence – including attacks targeting LGBTI victims – that has led to much resident irritation and even political protest in recent years.
Adjusting our nightlife habitsSo, how can we better judge the veracity of these claims about the displacement of nuisance and violence? Mapping patronage trends is a key means of understanding how and why rates of assault have now increased despite initially showing little to no change. To this end, Kevin McIsaac and I, with data from Transport for NSW, have set out to ascertain if and how nightlife participation in Sydney has been influenced by the lockouts. Our analysis focused on night-time aggregated train validation data (turnstile counts) from January 2013 to July 2016 for stations servicing the designated nightlife precincts (Kings Cross, Town Hall) and precincts outside the lock-out zone (Newtown, Parramatta). Using Bayesian Change Point (BCP) detection we found the following:
- no evidence of changes to Kings Cross or Parramatta exit traffic from the introduction of the lockout laws;
- evidence of strong growth in the Parramatta Friday-night exit traffic by about 200% since January 2013, which is independent of the lockout laws;
- evidence of an increase of about 300% in the Newtown Friday-night exit traffic as a result of the lock-out laws; and
- in all stations, the BCP algorithm detected a change when OPAL card usage exceeded magnetic ticket usage. This suggests the jumps seen in the graphs below are due to the higher exit reporting from OPAL. The switch from flat to slow growth in trend is probably an artefact of the relative increase in OPAL usage.
Big data’s capacity to helpWhile this research is still in its early phases, the transport data tell one small, yet significant, part of the story. However, to draw definite conclusions, there is far more that needs to be considered. Many nightlife patrons travel into the city by different means, or don’t travel at all (those who live in and around the city). We need alternative data to try to identify patterns concerning these groups. Several different organisations have data that could help paint a more complete picture, including telcos, Google, Taxis NSW and Uber. While these organisations should be protective of their data, the value of anonymous aggregate location data is how it can inform and advance public policy through ethical research. This information is key to breaking down access barriers. Without access to these anonymous aggregations of privately controlled data, the capacity of research is limited. As such, there is a need for greater communication, collaboration and co-operation between producers of big data, the government and researchers into social impact. By building stronger evidence for all manner of policies, such partnerships have an amazing potential to contribute to the public good. [post_title] => Public transport data begins to reveal true impact of Sydney's lockout laws [post_excerpt] => Newtown's 300% nightlife jump. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26882 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:16:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:16:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26882 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25931 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-21 12:39:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-21 01:39:35 [post_content] => Hundreds will protest outside Auburn Civic Centre this afternoon as Cumberland Council Administrator Viv May prepares to announce his decision on whether to outsource council waste services at tonight’s council meeting. United Services Union (USU) Metropolitan Manager Steve Donley, the union which represents council workers, said Mr May was hell bent on bringing in private companies to take over the council’s waste services. “Tonight, as Mr May presides as judge, jury, and executioner, we fear he will take a disastrous step towards locking the council and local ratepayers into an expensive, inflexible, long-term contract while denying the community a voice on service delivery,” Mr Donley said. “It is possible to retain an in-house service that provides a comparable level of service while retaining quality jobs for local residents, with the union already identifying ways to increase productivity by more than 20 per cent at no extra cost to the ratepayers.” But Cumberland Council General Manager Malcolm Ryan said that having three separate approaches to waste services was “not an option”. Cumberland Council was formed in May from Auburn, Holroyd and parts of Parramatta Council. “It is clear that there is a need to co-ordinate and streamline our waste services so there is uniformity across Cumberland that delivers a best practice, cost effective service for residents,” Mr Ryan said. “In examining a new approach Council must consider how we can provide a service to residents that provides the best value for money to ratepayers and delivers high quality outcomes.” Government News reported in October that the review Mr May will partly base his decision on, the August 2016 Strategic Waste Options Briefing Paper, appears to lean heavily towards recommending outsourcing kerbside waste collection to the private sector. The review argues that the council would achieve a 20 per cent reduction in costs through larger contracts and reduced operating costs. It bases its conclusions on a market test analysis, which compares the cost of waste collection services provided by the former Holroyd and Auburn Councils, which were both in-house, and that of Woodville, a ward which used to be part of Parramatta Council and outsources its rubbish collection. The report says the analysis “identifies a serious lack of competitiveness of the in-house services against a full contract domestic waste service” and compares the cost of bin-lifts in the different council area, putting Woodville at 95 cents per bin, Auburn at $1.13 and Holroyd at $1.39. But the report also outlines some of the potential risks of outsourcing the council’s entire waste and recycling collection, including juggling different contract end dates and a three-year protection for staff after amalgamation, and notes that the council could also get flak by outsourcing. Council estimates suggest that it could cost up to $1.1 million to make 17 full-time waste services staff redundant or pay transfer payments to a contractor, plus paying out long service and annual leave entitlements. [post_title] => Hundreds to descend on Auburn in protest over council outsourcing [post_excerpt] => Rubbish decision imminent. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25931 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-21 12:48:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-21 01:48:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25931 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24313 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-30 22:42:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-30 12:42:04 [post_content] => Councils that were sacked and placed under the control of administrators by the Baird Government are sneakily imposing hefty new taxes on property developments in direct contravention of state planning guidelines to prop-up their finances, a peak building industry body has warned. Urban Taskforce, whose members include developer giants like Meriton, Mirvac and Brookfield Multiplex, is demanding an immediate New South Wales Government intervention to put a stop to a cash grab it says is being foisted on the property industry under the guise of ‘value capture’. “The Urban Taskforce is concerned that a number of metropolitan Sydney councils are developing value capture policies as a way to earn income,” said the group’s chief executive, Chris Johnson. [quote]“As this is clearly against the Government’s practice note of 2005 the Department of Planning must either withdraw the practice note or update the practice note with clearer guidance.”[/quote] The shot over the State Government’s bow is yet another problem for embattled Local NSW Government Minister Paul Toole, to whom the newly merged councils will report until September 2017 – and potentially puts him on a collision course with Cabinet Ministers. With the forced merger of councils predicated on making them financially ‘Fit for the Future’, any cash raid under State Government appointed administrators is certain to ring alarm bells. Government News has been told that “imprudent” and “understated” integration cost estimates have started to blow out and will risk delivering big deficits instead of savings unless ancillary revenue streams or major cost cuts are quickly found. With ‘mum and dad’ rates and fees very strictly off-limits, the pressure to find new money is on: but it’s not a simple equation. Peter vs Paul robbery A major drawback of councils levying land taxes using ‘value capture’ is that the money they extract from developers would otherwise flow back to the state government to offset big investments in infrastructure.
Those investments then act to drive-up property values, thus creating a capital lift that can be put to work. But it’s a finite pot.The established value capture model works by releasing land (often compulsorily acquired) that’s nearby rail, light rail or major road projects to developers who cash-in on strong demand for property close to new transport corridors and hubs. The project owner, usually the State Government, then takes a cut of the property sales, usually through a floor space ratio levy, and puts the money towards the project to minimise the cost and maximise the use of public funds. Urban Taskforce is now warning that with councils now under State Government control, taking a big second bite out of the value capture cherry will simply make some major projects non-viable. New Parramatta Council under fire [quote]The new City of Parramatta Council is cited as a prime offender, a rather embarrassing situation in the midst of a federal election campaign where urban infrastructure in Sydney’s marginal Western Suburbs has become a key battleground.[/quote] Urban Taskforce isn't stupid. It knows when to pounce. “Of particular concern was that the City of Parramatta Council included in their levy the collection of a state tax of $200 a square metre for housing alongside the proposed light rail. There is some confusion as to how State Government value capture taxes are to be collected,” Mr Johnson said. “The overlap of State Government value capture with council value capture levies is also occurring on sites near new stations proposed for the Sydney Metro. Urban Taskforce members with projects near the proposed Crows Nest station are being asked to provide value capture levies by North Sydney Council as well as the State Government.” Mr Johnson also accused the City of Parramatta Council of “selling bonus floor space at a fixed price irrespective of the individual qualities of a development site.” He said developers held fears that despite “negotiating projects over a number of years the unexpected imposition of the proposed [council] tax would make their projects unviable.
“This is a huge unanticipated cost which throws out the feasibility of many developments,” Mr Johnson said.Parramatta stands its ground [caption id="attachment_24316" align="alignleft" width="147"] Amanda Chadwick[/caption] Amanda Chadwick, City of Parramatta Council’s Administrator, isn’t letting Urban Taskforce’s claims – especially the accusation that imposing value capture levies or ‘value sharing’ is against state planning guidelines – go unchallenged. “I have received advice to the contrary,” Ms Chadwick plainly told Government News.
“What I have asked for is an independent peer review of all of the work that was done by the City of Parramatta [and] Parramatta City Council to ensure that a good decision is made and informs that.”“I have also asked for independent legal advice,” Ms Chadwick said, adding that those two documents were now being prepared and would go on to inform consultation documents that will be released. “While I accept [Chris’ Johnson’s] concerns in relation to ensuring that that there’s a good framework around value sharing, I think what we really need to do is ensure that council’s options are on the table in the form of a document for consultation. “And that industry have the opportunity to respond to that, together with the good ratepayers and everybody else who has an interest in Parramatta’s future,” Ms Chadwick said. Consultation imperative The next step in that process, Ms Chadwick says, is to release two discussion papers for consultation so that “the planning work, the policy work, the economic work and the legal work can be tested by industry.” Ms Chadwick also firmly contested any notion that harnessing value sharing (or value capture), was a new idea linked to councils recently being put into administration. “The CBD planning proposal of the former Parramatta City Council has been in the public domain for almost a year,” Ms Chadwick said, noting the big increase in population around the corner. “That document – if it is accepted as a planning proposal as the new LEP – would mean a quadrupling of the current dwelling entitlements for the CBD,” she said. “Now that document has a lot of supporting information behind it, including this concept of value sharing, including the infrastructure that that [Parramatta] CBD would need. It’s been a long process that’s led to this.”
The next step, according to Ms Chadwick, is to ensure “a proper and transparent document” is released for consultation “so that that the whole of the industry has the opportunity to respond.”Equally, the Parramatta Administrator insisted, “ratepayers and residents” must to have their say as do “the businesses that are already in Parramatta” in terms of “the way in which infrastructure for the city should be funded, and the shape of the city that they want to live and work in.” Muzzled administrator label rejected One of the biggest risks of the NSW forced council merger process is the growth of a palpable public perception that council administrators are simply doing the State Government’s bidding at arm’s length, thus circumventing local democracy in the process. Ms Chadwick rejects that notion in its entirety. She says she’s satisfied with her freedom to speak out and challenge Macquarie Street in the interests of the local community under her control.
“On this issue, what I see myself as doing is continuing the policies of the former Parramatta City Council. They were very clear about the city that they wanted to see, very clear about the way they thought that city could be funded.“What I am in fact doing is continuing that policy direction… wrapped around it with good transparency and integrity in decision making, which is exactly what you should expect to see from an administrator.” Ratio Decidendi Prior to being put into administration, Parramatta’s elected representatives had resolved to place a dual ‘value sharing’ mechanism into place. It reflected gains that would be generated not just from increases in land value, but also increasing density and floor space ratios ranging from 6:1 to 10:1 attracting a levy and a so-called ‘bonus’ rate that applied to developments with ratios of up to 15:1. Upscaling density at 15:1 isn’t just a number, it’s a high-rise goldmine for developers, but one that places real pressure on underfunded municipal services. Bluntly put, multiply a population by a factor of 15 and the rubbish that needs to be collected increases by the same proportion. With the scale of development in Parramatta planned being so substantial, as well as the creation of planned creation of a ‘Dual CBD’ by the State Government, the reasoning behind fixing value capture levies was to make planning responsibilities to developers abundantly clear and consistent.
A major advantage for councils in adopting a consistent approach – or a flat rate – is that projected payback received does not have to be negotiated on an individual project-by-project basis.It is also understood that since administration took effect in Parramatta the levy rate for the ‘bonus’ range of much bigger buildings was set at 46 per cent – but took into account the possibility of a state infrastructure levy being imposed, with the rate then being dialled down to not less than 20 per cent. With so much at stake, the politics of the creation of Sydney’s second CBD is certain to remain a hot issue. [post_title] => Unelected & Merged: NSW councils' sneaky new property taxes [post_excerpt] => Value capture row erupts. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => unelected-merged-nsw-councils-sneaky-new-property-taxes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-30 22:42:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-30 12:42:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24313 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24158 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-16 13:30:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-16 03:30:57 [post_content] => Forget luxury apartments, prisons are primed become the latest residential building boom in New South Wales after the Baird Government announced it will spend $3.8 billion to create 7000 extra ‘beds’ for the state’s soaring inmate population that has pushed existing facilities to breaking point. The big cash splash on jails, to be spent over four years, was revealed ahead of the forthcoming NSW Budget, with Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian and Corrections Minister David Elliot saying the spend will fund “a long-term infrastructure plan to cater for the rising prisoner population and better manage and rehabilitate inmates.” The NSW prisons building program is so big that Corrective Services has hired the former head of construction at Australia’s largest privately-owned construction company Grocon, Dr David Sweeny, “to oversee the delivery of the prison infrastructure program.” Incarceration numbers in NSW have been steadily rising over the last decade thanks to a combination of tougher bail laws, mandatory sentencing requirements and improvements in forensics and crime detection technology, all helped by so-called ‘law and order auctions’ between politicians. The Bureau of Crime Statistics this year put the NSW prisons population at 12,390, The pressure is so bad that authorities are reportedly looking at importing specially modified shipping containers converted into modular cell block ‘pods’ to absorb soaring numbers, a purchase that Mr Elliot has acknowledged as an option but is yet to confirm. One of the biggest builds will be in the regional city of Grafton, where a jail originally slated to house 1000 prisoners has now been expanded to house 1700. Mr Elliott said four high-quality Expressions of Interest for the New Grafton Correctional Centre had now been received and three consortia subsequently invited to bid in through a Request for Proposal process. Much less clear is what will become of Sydney’s infamous Long Bay jail, that sits on prime waterfront property in the south eastern suburb of Malabar that is potentially worth around $500 million is disposed of by the government. Despite the original Long Bay jail being more than 100 years old, the position of the sprawling complex, which includes a recently completed forensic hospital, already has property developers excited about a big release of land so close to the city. A serious challenge for the government, prisoners and their families and communities is that the many of the state’s major prisons date back to the Victorian era making them expensive and difficult to convert to modern standards. [caption id="attachment_24159" align="alignleft" width="298"] Parramatta Gaol. pic: Adam.J.W.C.[/caption] Faced with stiff local community and developer pressure, the Baird Government this year dumped a proposal to reactivate the historic 30 hectare Parramatta Gaol precinct which had previously been zoned for redevelopment. The high value of land in or close to Sydney means authorities have effectively run out of sites for new prisons close to the city and are now looking to regional areas for new builds, a situation that makes it difficult and more expensive for families of those serving sentences to visit them. Meanwhile, older mothballed jails including the Kirkconnell Correctional Centre near Bathurst and the historic Berima jail have been reopened to take pressure off the system. Still up in the air is whether a new privately operated ‘super prison’ complex, that could potentially hold 5000 inmates, will be built at Wollondilly to replace Long Bay. The proposal has been attacked by the area’s local Liberal MP, Jai Rowell, as a “stupid” idea as around 35,000 new homes are planned to be developed in the area. Privately operated prisons have become an increasingly popular option with state governments across Australia because private operators take on much of the financial and operational risks of developing the facilities. Many legal and human rights advocates oppose the development of the private prisons industry, arguing the introduction of for-profit operators into the justice system creates a perverse incentive to grow prisoner numbers rather than putting downward pressure on them in the wider interests of the community. [post_title] => Prisons become a new $3.8bn building boom [post_excerpt] => 7000 new beds to cope with record numbers. 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Even marches, petitions, public meetings and Alan Jones in full flood could not stop nineteen new NSW councils being created, and run by administrators, until local government elections in September next year. NSW Governor David Hurley proclaimed the new councils yesterday as 45 councils became 19. [See full list at the end of this article]. Premier Mike Baird called it “the most comprehensive local government reform in more than 100 years” while others called it a betrayal of local government and their communities. “We are ensuring our communities have stronger and more efficient councils, which will free up money for important projects such as local roads, parks, playgrounds and footpaths,” Mr Baird said. “Our plan to create stronger new councils in Sydney and regional NSW will be supported by NSW Government investment of about $500 million." Merging councils have been promised $10 million each towards the cost of merging and $15 million to invest in community infrastructure through the Stronger Communities Fund. The statistics Twenty three councils received a stay of execution because their nine merger proposals are still the subject of legal challenges but Local Government Minister Paul Toole has said he backs these mergers ‘in principle’ and wants them to go ahead. Those on death row include Woollahra, Mosman, Botany Bay and Ku-ring-gai, councils which remain adamant they will not be merged. Three mergers proposals were late bids by councils who submitted alternative merger proposals and the verdict is not yet known. Fourteen mergers were dropped by the government. Who will run councils? Councillors and mayors have been sacked wholesale but thrown the consolation prize of being invited to join advisory groups and local representative committees. Mr Toole backed away from dispensing of general managers after receiving advice that it would prove too costly to buy out their contracts. Instead, an interim GM will be chosen in each new council and the remaining general manager will stay on board until the 2017 local council elections. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said the whole sector felt betrayed by the state government’s decision. "If it wasn't for a range of vehement campaigns by grassroots communities and the local government sector, the Baird Government would have bulldozed through an even more extensive and undemocratic reform process long ago,” Mr Rhoades said. "The process itself has been one long litany of mistakes and miscalculations and dubious dealings by the Government, and it's telling that both IPART and now the Boundaries Commission have felt compelled to disassociate themselves from the political decisions being made," he said. But Mr Toole disagreed: “Many people have taken the opportunity to have their say during the consultation process, by speaking at inquiries or making written submissions. The NSW Government has listened to community concerns and created new wards that reflect the identity of existing communities,” he said. He said services would operate as normal in new council areas and planning protections would remain in place with existing Local Environmental Plans enforced under the new councils. Impact on the federal election Mr Baird has backpedalled on a number of politically controversial mergers, especially those that appear to be in marginal Coalition federal seats, such as the wildly unpopular merger between Kiama and Shoalhaven in the federal seat of Gilmore or the merger between Tamworth and Walcha, where Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is beating back a challenge from Independent Tony Windsor to keep his seat. But a late proposal to merge Walcha with Armidale-Duresq, Guyra and Uralla looks set to proceed – the delegate’s report recommended it should – but the government has said the decision is “pending”, presumably until after the July 2 federal election. Meanwhile, talkback host Alan Jones accused Mr Baird of sabotaging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's chances on the hustings. Opposition Leader Luke Foley has promised to give people the oportunity to de-amalgamate their councils, if he is elected in 2019. Mr Rhoades said: "You can't pretend it's not inherently political when the only councils to escape amalgamation are those that happen to fall into marginal federal electorates in the middle of an election campaign." "It's now a matter for voters, many of whom may well choose to express their anger and sense of betrayal at the ballot box at the first opportunity," he said. Labor accuses Baird of imposing dictatorship by boundary rigging and gerrymandering NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley immediately attacked the forced mergers, directly accused Mr Baird of forming new councils based on political motivations rather than what communities wanted, with boundaries drawn-up along partisan lines. He told ABC 702 that mergers in Sydney were based on diluting Labor voter influence and concentrating the Coalition’s base. “This is just a gerrymander for the Liberal Party’s electoral interest, it’s boundary rigging plain and simple,” Mr Foley said. “It’s a travesty of democracy." Mr Foley specifically called out the case of Kogarah, Hurstville and Rockdale that could have formed a “genuine” St George council. “Instead they bring only two together, Kogarah-Hurstville [and] keep Rockdale out. Why? Too many Labor voters,” he said. “Put Rockdale with Botany … they are only separated by Botany Bay and an international airport. What’s the community of interest?” Mr Foley said. He said elected representatives had been sacked by the stroke of a pen and replaced by hand-picked appointees. Mr Foley said administrators had been given “dictatorial powers” and said the appointees were not accountable to ratepayers. The Opposition leader then recycled former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s position, saying that if elected he will let communities decide their own fates and allow referenda to de-merge councils. “I’m not opposed to mergers," Mr Foley said. “I’m opposed to the breathtaking lack of democracy where elected representatives are sacked and replaced by hand-picked unelected administrators with dictatorial powers.” More to follow
Mergers proceeding immediatelyArmidale, Dumaresq, and Guyra councils to become Armidale Regional Council Bankstown and Canterbury councils become Canterbury-Bankstown Council Gosford and Wyong councils become Central Coast Council Parramatta and part of Hills, Auburn, Holroyd and Hornsby councils become City of Parramatta Council Auburn and Holroyd councils become Cumberland Council Conargo and Deniliquin councils become Edward River Council Corowa and Urana councils become Federation Council Hurstville and Kogarah councils Georges River Council Cootamundra and Gundagai councils become Gundagai Council Bombala, Cooma Monaro and Snowy River councils become Snowy Monaro Regional Council Boorowa, Harden and Young councils become Hilltops Council Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils become Inner West Council Gloucester, Great Lakes and Greater Taree councils become Mid-Coast Council Murray and Wakool councils become Murray River Council Jerilderie and Murrumbidgee councils become Murrumbidgee Council Manly, Pittwater and Warringah councils become Northern Beaches Council Queanbeyan and Palerang councils become Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Tumut and Tumbarumba councils become Snowy Valleys Council Dubbo and Wellington councils become Western Plains Regional Council
Mergers still supported by the Baird Government but held up in courtBotany and Rockdale Randwick, Waverly and Woollahra Bathurst and Oberon Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby Blayney, Cabonne and Orange Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ryde Burwood, Canada Bay and Strathfield Shellharbour and Wollongong
Merger Proposals still pending (kicked into touch)Newcastle and Port Stephens Dungog and Maitland Armidale-Dumaresq, Guyra, Walcha and Uralla [post_title] => Baird crushes NSW council mergers resistance with iron fist [post_excerpt] => Nineteen new councils, more to follow. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => baird-crushes-nsw-council-merger-resistance-iron-fist [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-17 17:06:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-17 07:06:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23859 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22404 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-12-09 21:52:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-12-09 10:52:09 [post_content] => The Baird government calls it ‘value capture’ – but is the price of a ticket to ride on the profits of surging values for land near new rail and tram lines in Sydney’s west simply just too high, even for developers? Peak development group Urban Taskforce on Thursday firmly put the New South Wales Government on notice that a proposed ‘Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC)’ of $200 per square metre for floorspace in new residential developments along the Parramatta light rail corridor is way too steep. The developer group, which represents apartment builders, estimates the new tax will force up a typical two bedroom unit price by $20,000 – just as prices are come off the boil and auction clearance rates are falling. That’s hardly the kind of welcome NSW transport and planning authorities would have been hoping for after they finally unveiled the new 22km light rail corridor which will link Parramatta’s rapidly ascending CBD to the struggling precinct of Sydney Olympic Park and the badly underserviced hubs of Westmead Hospital and Western Sydney University, with the new run finally emerging at Strathfield. The project has already taken far too long for some big blue chips that went West punting the promise of rejuvenation (and cheap rents for new builds). The Parramatta light rail's long awaited confirmation this week comes after more than a decade of pressure from the community and business groups, with the Commonwealth Bank recently revealing it will relocate several thousand jobs out of Sydney’s West –a commercial decision that says plenty about the challenges anchor tenants face in sterile precincts like Olympic Park. The Baird government has so far committed around $1 billion to the new light route, saying it will also convert Sydney’s last single track heavy rail branch line from Clyde the Carlingford to trams – almost certainly taking advantage of the skinnier tram cars to duplicating the track to boost service frequency to viable levels. Baird is also clearly hoping for some fresh money from Canberra now that renowned rail sceptic and former PM Tony Abbott has been replaced by public transport enthusiast Macolm Turnbull. . But to make the project a reality, the Baird government is banking on being able to exploit the windfall gain made by property owners and developers who will be allowed to throw up tens of thousands of new dwellings, mostly apartments, after adjoining land is either compulsorily acquired, rezoned or both. A billion dollars goes some of the way, but not as far as long suffering commuters out West want, especially when new freeway tolls hit for projects like WestConnex. “The light rail corridor will activate a priority growth area and there is an opportunity for the government to share in the value uplift that will occur along the corridor,” the official announcement for the project says. “A Special Infrastructure Contribution will be implemented, with the levy expected to be set at around $200 per square metre of gross floor area of new residential developments subject to consultation.” But Urban Taskforce is actively talking down the price of the proposed levy, which in effect is a betterment tax, strongly arguing it will act to hike prices just as previously soaring values and auction clearance rates are coming off the boil. Urban Taskforce chief executive Chris Johnson told Government News that “the government needs to be aware it [the SIC] will increase the price of housing. It is going to be inflationary.” The lobby group is not against the concept of ‘value capture’ per se – after all developers can profit handsomely – but it is worried the floor space linked level could inhibit investment by medium sized players. “There seems to be a threshold reached in terms of [selling] prices [in Sydney]” Mr Johnson said. “The danger of adding a high contribution amount is that development may not be economically viable and so funds will not flow to the infrastructure. Further discussions with industry are needed to ensure that the SIC is workable.” There are also decidedly mixed views on how to best apply value capture within the urban planning community. Guy Perry, Executive Director of Asia Pacific at construction company AECOM, which is working with the NSW government, recently labelled some Asian examples of the value capture model “suburban cellulite” because high rise developments over rail stations there essentially funnelled shoppers into them. There’s also confusion about what ‘value capture’ actually is. The Baird government is facing escalating community hostility and demands to better explain what its wider plans for ‘value capture’ are, especially as its redevelopment juggernaut, Urban Growth, attempts to sell an agenda of urban densification and infill to communities deeply worried that established residential communities in older inner suburbs will be bulldozed to make way for big, fast profit, apartment blocks. While developers can negotiate directly with the government on price for land that is compulsorily acquired from existing owners – whom the government pays out – many sections of inner Sydney communities remain confused as to whether betterment taxes could or will apply to rezoning for areas where there is no additional transport infrastructure or renewal. Urban Growth hasn’t been doing itself many favours in terms of fostering trust or clarity. At a community meeting in November over proposed developments in Lewisham, in Sydney’s Inner West, government officials were left red faced after they put up diagrams showing potential new areas for additional green space that already had unit developments build on them. Angry residents in turn accused Urban Growth of relying on outdated Google Earth imagery to make their plans rather than assessing what was actually on the ground, an allegation that officials had clear difficulty refuting. Urban Growth has produced some other eye-opening visual curiosities when it comes to illustrating the new Parramatta light rail line. One of Urban Growth's recent indicative illustrations (cue AC/DC's Jailbreak) has the tramline cutting through the middle of one of Australia’s most densely populated precincts, the Silverwater Correctional Complex. While that route is highly unlikely to eventuate, it would not be the first time the NSW Government had run a tramline into a working jail. For many years there was a modified tram used to run prisoners between Darlinghurst Courthouse and Long Bay jail in La Perouse, the infamous ‘948’ car – from which notorious criminal escape artist Darcy Dugan managed to get out of – and is now an exhibit at the Sydney Tramway Museum. That’s light rail value capture of a different kind. [post_title] => Sydney Light Rail: Is the Value Capture price far too high? [post_excerpt] => Developers reject new $20,000 per unit tax. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sydney-light-rail-is-the-value-capture-price-far-too-high [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-10 21:19:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-12-10 10:19:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22404 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22311 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-12-01 10:53:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-30 23:53:46 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_22313" align="alignleft" width="287"] Paul Fletcher helping out Trent Zimmerman.[/caption] Australia’s 565 local governments copped a serious belting in the last federal Budget (and a serious loss of portfolio relevance in Canberra) under jettisoned PM Tony Abbott, but now successor Malcolm Turnbull and his Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government Paul Fletcher are moving fast to repair some of the major damage. In a deliberate overture to help heal the yawning rift opened by the previous federal Coalition leadership, Paul Fletcher late last week quietly told the nation’s Mayors they were firmly back on the federal policy agenda. After a cold and lonely stint on the sidelines, winter is over. “This is the first time for some years that there has been a Minister whose title includes specific reference to local government,” Fletcher pointedly observed in a blog on his website. “There are at least three important reasons why the Turnbull Government has chosen to underline the importance of local government in this way.” Like most government lists, the real deal usually sits somewhere towards the end. Fletcher’s third ‘reason’ says this: “As Prime Minister Turnbull has made clear, he sees a renewed role for the Commonwealth in working to support and plan for the growth of our cities – which collectively in 2011 contributed $854 billion to our national economy according to the Infrastructure Australia audit issued earlier this year.” Look at full name of many councils, and you’ll see the name “City of …” in front of many of them; and not just state capitals. Parramatta City Council has more than 170,000 people living in it, a bit under half of Canberra’s population of 380,000. The City of the Gold Coast has close to 500,000. Get your local government policy right and there are large numbers of people pleased. Get it wrong and the electoral consequences can be pivotal. The big problem many populous local governments have these days though is that the highly polarised nature of Australia’s political system can find councils pointlessly punished for accidently falling on the wrong side of the partisan fence –especially when it’s highly localised rather than ideological issues that decide results. Who fixed a bridge, upgraded broadband or mobile phone reception, fixed a parking problem or got a movie to film in a town. Politicians might want to ‘own’ solutions but they are more often than not based on pragmatism than ideology. The bone-headed, semi-fanatical opposition of NSW Labor to the renewal of light rail infrastructure in Sydney stands as a case in point. Sadly, the example sits cheek-by-jowl with the Abbott government’s vindictively punitive treatment of the renewable energy sector. Stuff the utility, give the other side nothing . . . their gain is our loss so bugger the opportunity cost. Transport renewal and energy efficiency offer councils a real prospect of improving their communities and saving money at the local level. That opportunity has since been seized with both hands by a far more pragmatic and progressive Baird government that is laser focused on demonstrable results rather than dogma. Fletcher and Turnbull now have a golden opportunity to positively reset relations between councils and Canberra by backing the kinds of grass roots projects that can make a difference and deliver to local communities in smart and innovative ways that eschew community damaging pettiness -- and potentially take state government or three along for the ride. “When Australians engage with government, nothing annoys them more than buck-passing and finger pointing between different governments,” Fletcher notes. “Of course it is true that different levels of government have different responsibilities – but all of us have a responsibility to work together to deliver the best possible outcomes for citizens and residents.” Fletcher’s first major overture to councils obligatorily calls out Roads to Recovery as a cornerstone agenda item, but the real test will be how broadminded the Commonwealth can be when considering projects that offer savings to local communities yet don’t immediately tick stodgy procurement guidelines or fire up the daily news cycle. There is also a case for overcoming a paralysing fear that credit for good deeds could be claimed by immediate opponents, or worse still Greens and Independents. Take for example the hysterical campaign run against LED street lighting by some sections of the electricity sector that stood to lose handsome ratepayer revenue in the event councils found a much cheaper way to light up. Or the Quixotesque war on wind power replete with its own Commissioner. Energy costs are not everything, but overseas examples that demonstrate savings in emissions and power consumption that come from innovations such as tapping methane from landfill, biomass and water treatment could make a real difference to rates bills, or at least infrastructure maintenance. In the US there are sewage plants that generate and sell electricity. Should Canberra be able to become an enabling catalyst for new ideas and innovation, there could be a decent payoff for the initial capital outlay – both financial and political. As the coal lobby likes to point out, affordable energy fosters economic growth; even if some producers don’t like competition from less capital and carbon intensive methods of production. “A wide range of critical functions, such as planning, waste disposal and infrastructure provision (including roads and footpaths, parks and sporting grounds, and in many areas sewerage, water and even power) are delivered by local government,” Fletcher observes. “If it were not for local government, many of the services that Australians take for granted simply would not be there.” Improving those services without getting hung-up on labels could go a very long way and Paul Fletcher understands the nature of networks better than most, including how to optimise their performance. Just don’t mention council mergers. [post_title] => Turnbull & Fletcher schmooze local councils [post_excerpt] => Renewed focus on cities, big and small. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => turnbull-fletcher-schmooze-local-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-01 10:53:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-30 23:53:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22311 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22284 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-11-25 19:37:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-25 08:37:41 [post_content] => When it comes to Sydney's overheated property market, even government sellers can get a splitting headache. The announcement that thousands of Commonwealth Bank (CBA) jobs will soon be moved out of Western Sydney has cast a long shadow over NSW Premier Mike Baird’s bold plans to remake Parramatta as the “dual CBD” of Sydney. The bank this week confirmed it will move staff from three sites at Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park (Homebush) and Lidcombe over to the Australian Technology Park (ATP), near Redfern, in four or five years’ time. But the relocation has primarily been made possible by the state government’s move to sell off the sprawling inner-city ATP site earlier this year. Ironically the asset disposal that produced a bumper price has come at the cost of small jobs exodus from Sydney's West, where the NSW government has been feverishly trying to push corporate investment to stimulate employment and the services sector. During Parramatta's annual State of the City address in March, Mr Baird – who is also the Minister for Western Sydney – said that in the future Parramatta would be looked to as “the infrastructure capital of the world”. The Premier has already pledged billions of dollars to Western Sydney, including two new multi-storey schools, a new sports stadium, a light rail network, relocating the Powerhouse Museum, a massive redevelopment of Westmead Hospital and extra trains and ferries from Parramatta to the city. Also planned, is a $2 billion renewal of the North Parramatta Heritage Precinct, which will include a culture and arts precinct and thousands of new high-rise apartments. But the big development push hasn't been enough to dissuade high profile blue-chip tenant CBA from consolidating its operations much closer to the CBD. It was reported that the Premier, who has championed Western Sydney, tried to encourage the bank to reverse its decision and stay put. There had been hopes that CBA would take offices in the new multi-billion dollar Parramatta Square development. Dismayed by the CBA's decision Parramatta City Council went all out to slam the door hard behind the CBA on its way out, voting on on Monday night to investigate closing all of its loan, savings and investment accounts held with the bank and encourage neighbouring councils to do the same. Former Parramatta Mayor Scott Lloyd, who led the charge to get other councils on board with the boycott, told Fairfax: "This is a case of, if the Commonwealth Bank don't think it's worthwhile to invest in western Sydney, well we don't think it's worthwhile to invest in them," Mr Lloyd said. But the strong rhetoric is unlikely to do much other than highlight the fact to other prospective occupants that one of Australia's biggest corporates has simply made a commercial decision and voted with its feet. The Commonwealth Bank will be the anchor tenant of the ATP, which a Mirvac Group-led consortium recently bought from the State Government, taking 93,000 square metres of floor space on a 15-year lease. A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said that while the bank was moving within Sydney it was "committed to not sending any Australian customer-facing jobs offshore." The spokesperson said that more than 1,000 CBA staff would remain in Western Sydney branches, as well as additional staff who would remain in the area beyond 2020. "This is a major milestone for CBA; the size and scale of Australian Technology Park will enable us to house about 10,000 employees in a state-of-the-art workplace – this is more people than we’ve ever been able to accommodate in a single location," the spokesperson said. "Our workplace will be built in the heart of a growing technology hub, enabling further collaboration with nearby universities, start-ups, incubators and other innovative companies, supporting the Group’s strategy of driving innovation. "We have also established a Tech Incubation Fund with our partners to further enable and encourage the use of the ATP precinct as a technology and innovation hub. The fund will subsidise rent for start-ups located at ATP as well as support university programs." [post_title] => CBA vacates Mike Baird’s Parramatta "dual CBD" dream [post_excerpt] => Parramatta City Council lashes CBA. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cba-vacates-mike-bairds-parramatta-dual-cbd-dream [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-25 19:37:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-25 08:37:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22284 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21756 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-10-13 15:11:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-13 04:11:52 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_21757" align="alignnone" width="287"] Winners are grinners: Western Sydney MPs Julie Owens and Michelle Rowland.[/caption] Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has revealed a minor reshuffle of Labor shadow ministry positions in the wake of previously announced retirements ahead of the next federal election. Former high profile Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has formally moved into Shadow Cabinet, taking on the shadow portfolios of Mental Health, Housing and Homelessness, and Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on State and Territory Relations. Mr Shorten said Ms Gallagher will also take on responsibility for women’s policy within the Shadow Cabinet, an area the Opposition has been keen to spotlight following the conspicuously small number of women appointed to Cabinet under the Abbott government. Also rising to Labor’s Shadow Cabinet ranks is Michelle Rowland, the member for Greenway in Sydney’s west who becomes Shadow Minister for Small Business in addition to keeping her previous role as Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism. Ms Rowland’s aptitude for plain and practical speaking and her ability to cut through the jargon of complex economic and social issues, including the National Broadband Network, have seen her tipped as a frontbench contender for months as Labor tries to claw back suburban heartland. Member for Parramatta, Julie Owens, also gets additional junior shadow ministerial responsibilities becoming Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education in addition to Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business. “We are proud to welcome two new Labor women to the Shadow Cabinet in Senator Katy Gallagher and Michelle Rowland, bringing the total number to seven,” Mr Shorten said. Former Treasurer Wayne Swan’s previous chief of staff Dr Jim Chalmers has done well out of the reshuffle, being elevated to the role of Shadow Minister for Superannuation and Financial Services, Shadow Assistant Minister for Trade and Investment, Shadow Assistant Minister for Productivity and Shadow Minister for Sport. Labor has also moved to bolster its online business credibility, with Mr Shorten handing Ed Husic the role of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Innovation and Startups in addition to his existing responsibilities under the shadow Treasury portfolio. Multinational technology businesses might also be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief. Sam Dastyari, renowned for hauling corporate bosses over the coals through the Committee process, has scored the role of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Youth, Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate after successfully highlighting to minimal amounts of tax foreign-owned corporate giants pay in Australia. Mr Shorten said the reshuffle followed the retirement of “long-time Labor advocates and true representatives of Queensland, Senator Jan McLucas and Bernie Ripoll.” [post_title] => Women ascend in Shorten's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle [post_excerpt] => Women the winners in revamped Labor front bench. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => women-ascend-in-shortens-shadow-cabinet-reshuffle [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-15 17:17:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-15 06:17:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21756 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21729 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-10-12 13:10:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-12 02:10:10 [post_content] => Malcolm Turnbull’s weekend announcement that the Commonwealth will provide $95 million in funding towards the extension of the Gold Coast’s light rail system gives further impetus to the quite remarkable popularity of the technology in Australia. Trams were once Australia’s most popular form of public transport, operating even in comparatively small cities such as Geelong and Ballarat. Now they are flavour of the month for Australia’s growing band of public transport advocates, the chief of which is our new Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull delights in being seen on public transport, in great contrast to his predecessor, who believed cars made ‘kings’ of ordinary people. It has not taken long for the new Prime Minister’s ideas to see action. “Public transport infrastructure is absolutely critical to the development of our cities,” he said when announcing the Gold Coast deal, “which are absolutely critical to ensuring our future prosperity as a nation. “Our cities are the crucibles of innovation and enterprise. They are where so much of our GDP is created and it's vital that they have the right infrastructure, whether it is telecommunications infrastructure or transport infrastructure.” Sydney’s CBD has had its buses taken off George St, the city’s main north-south artery, as construction of a massive new light rail line begins. The Gold Coast line has converted many former opponents into light rail enthusiasts. Light rail in Australia is booming – there is even a major conference on the subject planned for 2016. The are many projects in the offing: In operation
- Melbourne: Melbourne’s 250km metropolitan tram system rivals St Petersburg as the most extensive light rail system in the world.
- Sydney: From Central Railway to Dulwich Hill, built on old tram tracks and an obsolete goods line, servicing the southern CBD, Darling Harbour, and the Inner West.
- Adelaide: A single 12km line from the CBD to the beachside suborn of Glenelg was retained when Adelaide’s tram network was decommissioned in 1956. It has since been extended to North Terrace and along Port Road to Hindmarsh.
- Gold Coast: The existing G:link line from Griffith University’s Southport campus to Broadbeach was opened in 2014.
- Sydney: Major extension of the network, with a new line from Circular Quay down the spine of the CBD along George St, past Central Railway, through Surry Hills and branching at Moore Park into separate lines to Randwick and Kingsford.
- Canberra: Capital Metro announced in early 2015, to run 12km from Gungahlin in the north, down Northbourne Avenue to Civic. Construction planned 2016-19. There is a proposal to extend it along the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin to Russell.
- Perth: MAX (Metro Area Express), announced by the WA state government but now deferred, with construction planned from 2017 to 2022. The planned route is from Mirabooka in the north to the Perth CBD, with spurs to the University of Western Australia in the south west and Victoria Park in the south east. There are also proposals to eventually extend the line to Fremantle.
- Gold Coast: Extension of existing line north to heavy rail station at Helensvale, to be completed before the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
- Adelaide: A number of extensions have been proposed, to Port Adelaide, Adelaide Airport, Semaphore and Mitcham, as well as more tracks in the CBD.
- Hobart: Riverline, a proposed light rail system from the CBD along the southern bank of the Derwent River and perhaps across the river to Bridgewater, has been shelved after the Abbott Government scrapped a feasibility study in 2014. Expect to see it back on the table soon.
- Newcastle: The NSW government closed the heavy rail spur between Hamilton and Newcastle’s CBD in 2014, replacing it with buses. Two options have been proposed for a light rail system – one long the old rail lines, and another on Hunter St. The government is conducting a study, but there has been no announcement.
- Parramatta: The city council has conducted a $1 million feasibility study for a network connecting the CBD with Macquarie Park and Castle Hill, with possible extensions to Bankstown and Olympic Park.
- Sunshine Coast: The council has conducted a feasibility study of a route from Caloundra to Maroochydore, and has talked about an opening date of 2025.
- The NSW Government purchasing the riverfront site for the Powerhouse Museum (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences).
- The City of Parramatta committing $40 million to fund and grow arts and culture in the community over the next 20 years.
- A partnership between the NSW Government and the Council for a $100 million redevelopment of the Riverside Theatre with the State taking a 50 per cent interest in the project.
Union and ex-mayor enter fray.
Museum collection could be shared.
Newtown’s 300% nightlife jump.
Rubbish decision imminent.
Value capture row erupts.
7000 new beds to cope with record numbers.
Nineteen new councils, more to follow.
Developers reject new $20,000 per unit tax.
Renewed focus on cities, big and small.
Parramatta City Council lashes CBA.
Women the winners in revamped Labor front bench.
From Perth to Townsville, trams are on the agenda