Monday 13 March 2023
ALGA President's Update
The 2023-24 Federal Budget is fast approaching. I spent time in our Federal Parliament this week, meeting with the Government and Opposition to highlight our Budget funding requests to deliver for our communities. We recently partnered with the Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia (IPWEA) to call for permanent funding of $500 million per year for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This program has been incredibly successful so far and it’s helping us build more liveable and productive communities. [continue reading]
Local government priorities outlined in pre-Budget submission
ALGA recently submitted its 2023-24 Pre-Budget submission to the Treasury outlining key national funding priorities for Australia’s 537 councils. Major priorities include: Restoring Financial Assistance Grants to at least one percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue; making the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program permanent with funding indexed annually; and an increase in Roads to Recovery funding to $800 million per year.
Fair increase to FA Grants will throw a lifeline to councils
ALGA has urged the Federal Government to honour its pre-election commitment to provide “fair increases” in Financial Assistance Grants to local government. President Cr Linda Scott said many local governments heavily rely on FA Grants to remain sustainable and urgently need an increase in this untied funding.
ALGA and IPWEA call for permanent community infrastructure funding
ALGA has partnered with the Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia (IPWEA) to call for the Federal Government to make the successful Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) program permanent, with $500 million per year ongoing and funding indexed annually. On behalf of Australia’s 537 councils, ALGA highlighted the importance of investing in local governments to boost Australia’s productivity to generate jobs and economic growth for the nation.
Councils reminded about Black Spot road safety funding
Councils are encouraged to apply to the Black Spot Program to address known risks on their local roads. The Federal Government allocates $110 million per year to the Black Spot Program, which targets roads where crashes are occurring or are at a risk of occurring; and includes safety measures such as traffic signals and roundabouts.
NSW moves to reduce or stop development on flood-prone land opposed by councils
Councils in NSW have criticised the state government’s move to reduce or stop development on flood-prone land after initially making the ban voluntary. The government has moved to insert clause 5.22 of the standard planning instrument into councils’ local environment plans, meaning developments can’t be approved unless it can be proven not to affect safe occupation or efficient evacuation during a flood. Initially voluntary, a quarter of NSW councils inserted the clause into their LEPs, until the recommendations of the 2022 flood inquiry saw it placed in all council LEPs. In response, LGNSW has said it “does not support” this “one-size-fits-all approach”.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Victorian parties back changes to drug driving road safety laws
The Victorian Government and the state opposition are supporting an overhaul of drug-driving laws for medicinal cannabis users. Both major parties are supporting a push by Legalise Cannabis MPs, with the government committing to address the issue within months. The bill would allow drivers who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis to drive with THC in their system, which is currently an offence. The government has established a working group who will work to find a “distinction between presence [of THC] and impairment”, according to MP Harriet Shing.
Productivity Commission takes charge of Closing the Gap report
The Productivity Commission has assumed responsibility for publishing information on progress of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The Closing the Gap Information Repository will inform the reporting on progress made to the Agreement’s priority reforms and socioeconomic outline areas. The repository includes a dashboard and annual data compilation report.
Australian Government Productivity Commission
Briefings and Reports
NSW releases carbon emission reduction roadmap for infrastructure
The NSW Government has published the Decarbonising Infrastructure Delivery Roadmap, outlining how cutting emissions will save money and time while helping the environment. Under the roadmap, the cost of carbon will be measured in future state government infrastructure project business cases. The roadmap contains a new standardised carbon measurement tool for government projects, and details the state’s first ever policy to implement a circular economy for construction materials and built environment projects. The roadmap coincides with the launch of a $37 million Carbon Recycling and Abatement Fund.
New targets for councils building housing
A report published by the Centre for Independent Studies argues that not enough apartments are currently being built, and when they are they’re being built in the wrong place. The report calls for new housing targets to be installed for local councils, specifying how much additional housing is required and where. It uses Sydney’s housing market as a case study, arguing that appropriately designed housing targets would see much more apartment construction in more affluent suburbs, where the housing shortage is at its worst. These targets should house a growing population, the report argues, while bringing down the price of housing to the cost of supply.
Centre for Independent Studies
Report sets out what an Australian Human Rights Act would look like
The Australian Human Rights Commission has developed a model for a national Human Rights Act. Currently, Australia is the only liberal democracy on Earth without a national act or charter of rights, despite Australians possessing a strong sense of rights and freedoms. While some states have their own acts, the report argues a national bill is needed. This proposed model would create legal protections for all Australians’ human rights, while providing options for people to challenge decisions that breach their human rights. It would also increase the responsibility of governments to consider how their decisions affect human rights.
Australian Human Rights Commission
Vic local govt facing shortfall of building surveyors
A survey of Victorian councils has found the state’s local government is facing a collective shortfall of more than 120 building services staff. The survey of 49 councils reported 65 vacancies across council building departments, alongside issues with finding and retaining talent. Some councils were reportedly still seeking a suitable candidate after more than five years of searching. The report says “we would be reasonably confident in predicting that there are around 122 current vacancies within building services departments across Victoria with an average of 1.54 vacancies per council”.
Data plots gender pay gap across a working life
New analysis of median income data by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work has found that being a woman statistically is a financial penalty. Over their lifetimes, women in Australia can expect to earn $1.01 million less than their male colleagues, while receiving $136,000 less in superannuation. The report revealed that the gender pay gap won’t be closed until 2053, based on current progress. Older women currently can expect to accumulate approximately $393,676 in superannuation, $151,000 below what can be considered a “comfortable retirement” according to the report.
Government releases report card on gender inequality
To mark International Women’s Day, the Federal Government has published a new resource to track progress on some of the gender inequality hurdles faced by Australian women. It finds that one in two women have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime, that the fastest growing group of Australians experiencing homelessness are women aged over 55, and that 30% of Australian men do not believe gender inequality exists, higher than the global average of 21%. Women were found to do more unpaid housework than men, including women who are the primary breadwinners for their households.
Latest LGIU Australia content
This briefing is the first in a series which looks at the planning of community infrastructure - the spaces in which people socialise, recreate, create, and celebrate culture. In particular, this provides an overview of the current infrastructure benchmarks, how to use them, what to be aware of, and how they need to adapt.
The destruction of Juukan Gorge precipitated a Parliamentary Joint Committee inquiry, the formation of the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, and a new partnership with the Australian Government to develop options for legislative reform. This briefing provides an overview of the options and highlights some of the issues.
Professor John Martin of La Trobe University reviews Barbara Norman’s latest book on urban planning for climate change, highlighting how it provides extensive information on the institutional and governance issue surrounding how we address climate change, including specific actions local government can take in their communities.
Not an LGIU member? Get in touch about a free trial for your council
LGIU and ALGA
LGIU Australia and ALGA are working to together to support and inform local governments across Australia through this joint bulletin and ongoing collaborations.
Getting the most out of your LGIU membership
LGIU (Local Government Information Unit) Australia is a joint venture between not-for-profit local government think tank LGIU and SGS Economics and Planning. LGIU Australia annual membership includes unlimited access to LGiU content for every council employee. Members receive:
- Daily news bulletin summarising what news sources are saying about local government across Australia.
- Weekly roundup emails containing briefings, reports and other content written by sector experts in Australia supplemented by international insights on relevant local government issues from our global network of associates.
- Interesting and insightful guest blog posts and podcasts from around the world.
- Invitations to seminars and workshops.
- Unlimited access to global content on the LGiU website.
Secure annual membership for your council and join 30,000+ members worldwide.