Monday, 3 April 2023

Grab your morning brew ☕ and let us catch you up on everything happening in the world of local government, from local new stories to policy reports; from LGIU briefings to upcoming events. If you have a story that you'd like to share for the daily news, please get in touch here.

local news storiesLocal Government News

Local Government News

Independent investigation announced into Sydney’s ‘serious’ rail issues

The NSW Government plans to launch an independent investigation into repeated infrastructure failures across Sydney’s railway network. Major problems over the past year include the shutting down of the entire network in February after a router integral to communications failed in the bowels of Central Station. “It’s disappointing that the system isn’t delivering what Sydney as a global city needs and what passengers expect”, said Transport Minister Jo Haylen. “Passengers have been left on platforms, and the people who run our transport system are frustrated because they haven’t been listened to”. The government will determine the terms of reference in the coming days, before former National Transport Commission chair Carolyn Walsh begins the investigation. A preliminary report is due to be handed in by May 12th.

Sydney Morning Herald   The Guardian

Paramatta Council announces appointment of new CEO

The City of Paramatta Council has announced the appointment of Gail Connolly PSM as its new chief executive. Most recently, she was general manager of Georges River Council, and previously held the same role at the City of Ryde. She has also held senior executive roles at several other large local government organisations including City of Gold CoastCity of Sydney, and Campbelltown Council.

Paramatta Times

Fraser Coast consults on allowing vendors on Hervey Bay piers

Fraser Coast Regional Council is seeking public feedback on the economic benefits of letting vendors trade on Hervey Bay’s piers and jetties, as well as the smaller Torquay and Scarness jetties that line the shoreline. "The last time we did such a survey was back in 2011, so that's quite some time ago”, said Councillor David Lee. "The trigger [to seeking community feedback] has been that we are going through and doing a comprehensive review of our bylaws. If there is overwhelming support for the idea, then this is something that can be incorporated into our review”. Clr Lee said the public feedback would also give consideration to concerns that precluded the commercial use of jetties and piers in the past. "One would be the potential safety concerns with narrow access to the pier", he added. "Also, whether or not there are environmental concerns with conducting commercial activities on or around the piers”.

ABC News

Policy News

New NSW Premier elected 

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has been sworn in as New South Wales premier following last Saturday’s state election. Labor has defeated the outgoing Coalition but is currently unlikely to form a majority government, meaning Mr Minns may have to work with crossbenchers to govern. Mr Minns, who became the first Labor leader to win from opposition in NSW in almost three decades, said his party was "back and ready to govern". Outgoing premier Dominic Perrottet has stood down as Liberal leader and asked New South Wales residents to “get behind” Mr Minns. 

The Guardian

Costs of regional travel in Victoria slashed

Travel on Victoria’s regional trains and coaches has been capped at $9.20 a day, with the introduction of a new fare cap on the V/Line. An electoral commitment for the Victorian Government, travel will be capped at $9.20 per day for adults and $4.60 for concession and child fares. Fares will also be capped at weekends and public holidays at $6.70 and $3.35 for adults and concessions respectively. The move brings regional pricing in line with existing metro daily fares, but has led to concern from transport advocates over significant demand, overcrowding, and limited access to trains as they approach Melbourne. 

ABC News

Most significant climate law in a decade passed

The Federal Government has passed Australia’s most significant emissions reduction legislation in more than a decade, following a deal between Labor, the Greens and independent MPs. The law will deal with pollution from major industrial sites, requiring them to reduce their emissions, not just offset them. Dubbed the “safeguard mechanism”, the legislation will result in an emissions reduction equivalent to “taking two-thirds of the nation’s cars off the road”, according to Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen. Major industrial facilities must incrementally lower their emissions by approximately 5% each year, reaching 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. 

The Washington Post

Briefings and Reports

Report examines how to make use of Victoria’s existing housing infrastructure

A new report into the state’s housing demand, touted as the largest of its kind, has been released by Infrastructure Victoria. It examines how existing demand for housing in new greenfield suburbs could be moved to established suburbs with existing infrastructure such as schools and public transport. It found that one in five households said they would move from a new suburb for a similarly-priced townhouse closer to city centres, citing a want for more housing options closer to existing infrastructure and family and friends. The report finds this lack of suitable housing in established suburbs is pushing people away from jobs, schools and public transport. 

Infrastructure Victoria

The future of work: post-Covid attitudes

The University of Melbourne has released a report examining the ongoing impact of Covid recovery on the future of work. It asks how Australian workers are faring post-pandemic and identifies four critical future work themes. Firstly, many Australians feel their workplaces are unsafe. Next, that work is making people unwell and more exhausted than pre-pandemic. Workers are also uncertain about how upcoming tech changes, automation and AI will impact their work. Finally, Australian workers see greater opportunities to support workers, be it through flexible workplaces and practices. 

The University of Melbourne

VLGA releases strategic plan for Victorian councillors

The Victorian Local Government Association has released a four-year strategic plan detailing how it plans to develop governance and leadership skills among the state’s current and future councillors. It outlines how the VLGA will build councillor expertise and capability, shape good government practice and strategy, partner with sector and technical experts to build knowledge, and support councils, councillors and communities in addressing challenges to effective governance. The VLGA has also set out to establish a helpline, advice and early intervention services for local government officials and executives. 


Data Releases

One million in NSW living below poverty line

One million people, and one in seven children, are living below the poverty line in NSW, according to new research from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling. Based on 2021 census data, the report found at least 100,000 more people were living below the poverty line compared to 2016. At least 15% of children aged under 15 were living in poverty, with children in western Sydney facing the highest poverty rates. 41% of children in South Granville were living in poverty. The number of people aged over 65 who had fallen into poverty also increased significantly, women in the private rental market in particular. 


Pre-school attendance dropping

The latest ABS data on pre-schools has found the number of children who attend childcare programs is in decline, prompting calls for universal free childcare from experts. The data found some 4,575 fewer children in 2022 were enrolled in childcare programs compared to 2021, representing a 1.3% decrease. In total, 334,440 children aged four or five were enrolled in preschool programs in 2022, representing 90% of four-year-olds and 20% of five-year-olds. Just one in four parents of enrolled children were accessing free childcare, with three in ten paying $5 or more per hour for preschool services. 


Job vacancy rate nearly double three years ago despite dip

The ABS’ Job Vacancies report has found job vacancies have dropped 1% between November 2022 and February this year. With 439,000 vacant positions, the figure represents a 9% decrease from a peak in May 2022. However, ABS head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said the latest figure is nearly double what it was three years ago, just prior to the pandemic. Similar vacancy rate drops were recorded in the public and private sectors, representing the third consecutive quarterly drop. WA saw the largest quarterly percentage decline in job vacancies, at 15%, while the largest percentage growth was seen in NSW, at 9%. 

The Daily Telegraph

Latest LGIU Australia briefings

First Nations Voice to Parliament Referendum Question details released

Recently, the Australian Prime Minister announced the wording of the referendum question and draft constitutional amendment for the proposed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. This briefing outlines the details and the wider implications.

A new framework for economic development: restoring the balance

Economic transformation and an inclusive economy are lofty and worthy goals – but how do we even begin to implement them? This briefing outlines an approach to consider how an economy functions, what that means for thinking locally, and the imperative for restoring the balance between three constituent economic pillars: government, the market, and the community.

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