Monday, 23 January 2022
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
Major housing estate approved for Wagga’s north
Wagga City Council has approved a housing development project that will provide a direct connection between two suburbs in Wagga's rapidly-expanding northern residential area. Alatalo Bros Wagga’s application for the 308-lot residential subdivision, which completes the missing link between Estella and Gobbagombalin, comprises stages 14 to 20 of the long-running Estella Estate development and borders the under-construction Estella shopping centre, which will include a Foodworks supermarket and is expected to open this year. Atalo manager Paul Eady said a lack of available land was driving up prices. "We've seen that over the last couple of years, particularly coming out of COVID," he said. "So if we can bring in a volume of land like this to the market, it should help ease that pressure”. The residential lots will be completed in eight stages and Mr Eady said the development should provide six to eight years' of land supply.
The Daily Advertiser
Approval granted for SW Sydney apartment plan
A $463m plan to transform the precinct around Macarthur Station in southwest Sydney, creating up to 1250 new apartments, new retail spaces, and community facilities, has been approved by the Sydney Western City Planning Panel. Alex Wendler, chief executive of developer Landcom, said the development would boost housing supply in the area, and would demonstrate excellence in urban design and sustainability. Earthworks are anticipated to start by April, pending all necessary permits and approvals, followed by civil works and landscaping.
The Daily Telegraph
Council sells affordable blocks in bid to increase population
To help drive population and economic growth in the Shire, Flinders Shire Council is releasing 48 affordable blocks of land for sale in the townships of Hughenden, Prairie, and Torrens Creek. Prices for the blocks start at $9, and Council will also be offering housing grants of $5,000 to eligible applicants, as well as other grants offered by State and Commonwealth governments for which house buyers may be eligible. Flinders Shire Council Mayor Jane McNamara commented: "The 48 blocks of land for sale offer an incredible opportunity for people to invest in building affordable housing". The land sales form part of Flinders Shire Council’s commitment to support an increase in the supply of housing in the region to improve workforce retention and attraction.
Bass Coast businesses get $135,000 shopfront boost
As part of their Shopfront Improvement Rebate program, Bass Coast Shire Council is contributing contribute $63,000 worth of shopfront upgrades to 34 local businesses across the LGA. The program grants up to $2,000 to local businesses that are to enable vital maintenance and modernisation, and improvements can include new external signage, painting, minor repairs and lighting upgrades. Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan commented "We want to do everything we can to bring people back to our towns: this makeover of our high streets is one important way Council can encourage their return"
Corruption fears discourage public sector suppliers
The Northern Territory Government has warned alcohol retailers in Alice Springs to limit sales, to help put a lid on spiralling harms, street crime and family violence, or it will step in and strengthen the laws. NT police statistics show that reported property offences jumped by almost 60% over the past 12 months, while assaults had increased by 38% and domestic violence assaults by 48%. After meeting with Alice Springs’ social order response team (SORT), made up of police, local council, business and community leaders, NT police minister Kate Worden said “Our primary focus was to talk to those takeaway alcohol retailers to see how they can contribute to making Alice Springs a safer place to live”, but added the government could set individual purchase limits and restrict trading hours, and could also extend the banned drinkers register, a territory-wide list of people who are prohibited from buying takeaway alcohol, to include on-premises bans. Around 800 people have been added to the register in Alice Springs in recent weeks.
Regional exemptions on the cards for NSW government’s cashless gaming scheme
As part of the push for a wide range of gambling reforms in New South Wales, the State Government is considering a transition period that excludes non-metropolitan areas from the cashless gaming card. The deputy premier Paul Toole has confirmed that the idea of excluding regional areas from the card was part of the discussions underway, commenting: “I’ve made it very clear that the road to get there needs to be a sensible one... and we all need to recognise that a large venue in the city is very different to a small venue in the bush.”
SA's voice to parliament laws set to pass
With the Greens pledging support, the South Australian government's legislation introducing a First Nations voice to state parliament looks likely to pass. The bill, which proposed regions with directly-elected representatives be established around South Australia, was released last year and provided to Indigenous communities for feedback. Attorney-General and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher commented that the near-certainty of the bill's passing out them "one step closer to an Australian first" with "Aboriginal people having more of a say in the decisions that affect their lives".
Briefings and Reports
Productivity Commission calls for better student outcomes
The Productivity Commission have published a study report into the National School Reform Agreement. In the report, the commission recommends redesigning the agreement to prioritise improving student results, while also supporting quality teaching and students’ wellbeing. The report found that almost 90,000 students didn’t meet minimum reading or numeracy standards under the agreement, while teachers, compared to many countries, work longer hours but with less time for actual teaching.
Councils encouraged to have say on competitive neutrality report
A draft report on NSW’s competitive neutrality policy has been released by IPART. Council feedback is sought on the new report, which puts forward 30 recommendations aimed at improving the state’s competitive neutrality policy. Competitive neutrality concerns the rules government businesses must follow when they compete with the private sector, covering the advantages of government ownership such as not paying taxes. NSW’s competitive neutrality policy was last reviewed 20 years ago, and council submissions are encouraged on ways to make the policy clearer, more consistent and easier to apply.
How can cities govern AI?
A new report published by GovLab examines how policymakers can best adopt artificial intelligence and other automated systems in cities. Current research shows that cities are leading the charge in implementing policies and developing AI governance frameworks compared to national governments, in part due to the immediacy of policy responses. This report examines the early successes of AI use by municipalities and explores questions on the appropriate and ethical use of emerging technologies and their governance models. It sets out to identify themes among city-led governance of AI across the globe.
Wealthiest Australians 61% richer now than pre-pandemic
Australia’s richest 1% pocketed $150,000 a minute over the past decade, according to new analysis by Oxfam Australia. Figures released to coincide with Oxfam’s global wealth disparity report reveal that in March 2021, 42 Australians had a combined wealth of nearly $236 billion as some 1.3 million Australians were receiving jobseeker or youth allowance payment. The nation’s wealthiest 1% are now 61% richer than they were prior to the pandemic. Oxfam’s data found that a new Australian tax system for the super-rich would raise $29.1 billion annually.
Travel activity “on par” with early 2019
The latest figures released by the ABS has revealed that travel activity in December 2022 was on par with February 2019. December saw 1,523,100 overseas departures from Australia, an increase of 346,000 from November, prompted by the reopening of borders in countries like China and Japan post-pandemic. Internationally, Australians have favoured Bali, Tokyo, Singapore and London, while domestically, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast were the most popular travel destinations. The trend has been welcomed by the travel sector, who expected international travel to return to pre-pandemic levels next year at the earliest.
10% surge in rent prices across capitals
Rents in capital cities resisted a national trend of slowed rental growth, according to new CoreLogic data. December quarter rental data revealed the pace of rent growth slowed to 2% by the end of 2022, following “unprecendented annual growth in unit rents over the rest of the year”, according to Eliza Owen, CoreLogic’s head of research. Sydney and Melbourne saw 15.5% and 14.2% increases in rent prices, although Canberra still holds the title as Australia’s most expensive place to rent by $2. The return of normal migration patterns is expected to keep upward pressure on rents. The Guardian
Recent LGIU Australia briefings
As a result of the urban heat island effect and This briefing highlights examples of community and workforce mental health support in Ireland and Australia. Also looking at how the psychological model of compassion can help local government leaders lessen the impact of mental ill health on staff.
Georges River Council share details on their shift to place-based asset management and connecting asset planning to place-based outcomes. Doing this has required the Council to create new internal structures that bring together specialised asset management skills, and urban design and place making skills.
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