Monday 24 April 2023
ALGA President's Update
With 524 disaster support declarations over 316 local government areas in 2022, never before have local governments faced so many challenges. That’s why, on your behalf, I provided evidence to the Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience, advocating on behalf of Australia’s 537 local governments for more support. Right across our nation councils continue to go above and beyond preparing for, responding to and recovering from natural disasters; but we need more support from all levels of government [continue reading]
Councils call for emissions reduction funding
Local governments have called for the investment of $200 million in funding from the federal government to help councils reduce their emissions, saying they will play a key role in helping the Australia move towards net zero. ALGA says Australia's 537 local governments will be critical contributors to the nation creating a more sustainable and clean-energy future and helping the federal government deliver on its 2030 emissions targets.
Calls for disaster recovery funding at Senate hearing
ALGA appeared before a Senate Select Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience on 13 April to highlight that local governments urgently need more support to rebuild their communities. While Australia’s 537 councils appreciate the significant investment they have received from federal and state/territory governments for disaster funding, ALGA’s submission to the Committee said there’s an urgent need for dedicated funding for local government to prepare for future disaster events.
New council program to employ 5600 apprentices and trainees
ALGA has asked the Federal Government to support a new program to enable councils to employ up to 5,600 additional apprentices, trainees, cadets and graduates over the next 10 years. Due to the current national skills shortage, Australian councils are facing significant jobs and skills challenges, and increased investment in training and upskilling the next generation of workers is vital for the future.
New ATO process to protect from fraud and identity theft
Councils are reminded that the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has now included all government entities in their new agent nomination process. The process is a new requirement to help ensure only chosen authorised tax agents, BAS agents or payroll service providers can access your government entity’s accounts, and act on your behalf for tax and super matters.
Welcoming Australia Symposium
The 2023 Symposium, hosted in Melbourne from 9-11 May, will focus on Power of Place: exploring the critical role of local government and local communities in advancing social cohesion. Featuring keynotes from Prof Chelsea Watego, Prof Kate Reynolds and Prof Susanne Wessendorf, along with practical panel presentations and discussion on how to advance welcoming and inclusion work – this is an event not to be missed!
Electoral spending cap implemented in Queensland
The Queensland Government last week passed legislation setting caps on local government electoral expenditure. Deputy premier Steven Miles said the move will bring the local government sector in line with state electoral spending rules. The caps are tiered based on the number of electors in local government areas, with mayoral caps ranging from $30,000 in LGAs with 30,000 or fewer electors to $1.3 million for Brisbane City Council candidates. Caps for council candidates range from $15,000 to $55,000. The change will apply to the March 2024 Queensland elections.
VIC budget could see cuts to infrastructure, public service and health
The 2023 Victorian Budget will see cuts made to infrastructure projects, the public service and community health funding, a government source has told Guardian Australia. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week warned the budget will see some “very difficult measures” as the government works to get the state’s finances back on track post-Covid. The source said “it will not be a budget we are used to seeing in Victoria”, with pauses expected on major infrastructure projects like the Melbourne Airport Rail and the Geelong Fast Rail.
Commonwealth announces $70m for charging infrastructure
The Federal Government last week announced new grant funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as part of efforts to make electric vehicles more accessible. The government will deliver $70 million in new funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The project is expected to support more than ten projects designed to remove barriers to public charging and charge management, and will see funding made available to local governments. It forms part of a wider $146.1 million funding package to support business fleets, public charging, charging innovation and heavy-vehicle technology.
Briefings and Reports
New National Electric Vehicle Strategy will see fuel standards introduced
The Australian Government has announced its National Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy, setting out a vision to accelerate the uptake of electric light passenger and light commercial vehicles. The strategy focuses on 3 key objectives: increasing supply of affordable and accessible EVs, establishing the resources, systems and infrastructure to enable rapid EV uptake, and encouraging increased EV demand. As part of the strategy and following extensive public consultation, the government will introduce a Fuel Efficiency Standard, working with industry and the community to finalize details in coming months.
Population growth could be making councils less sustainable
A new study published in the Australian Journal of Public Administration claims that, contrary to conventional belief, population growth is making councils less financially sustainable due to the way revenue is gathered. Previously used as a method to justify amalgamation, population growth actually leads to a decrease in revenue per person, according to the study based on NSW Government financial sustainability metrics. This is due to the way that unit revenue is gathered in the local government system, based largely on land value dependent rates. It advocates for a switch to usage charges wherever possible.
Australian Journal of Public Administration
Win-win options for home efficiency improvements
This report explores a range of readily available measures for electrifying homes and improving efficiency, highlighting ways governments can support Australians in benefitting from energy transformations. The report examines current efficiency, noting that a huge number of Australian homes rate poorly on energy performance – especially rental properties – resulting in higher bills and worse health outcomes. Also included among the improvement suggestions are region-specific estimates on potential savings from choosing different types of home upgrades. For example, households in Hobart, Canberra and Adelaide are likely to benefit most from thermal efficiency improvements, saving up to an extra $1,561 per year.
Melbourne becomes largest city in Australia
Melbourne has overtaken Sydney as Australia’s largest city after more than 100 years in second place. After Melbourne’s boundaries were extended to include the City of Melton, the Australian Bureau of Statistics formally declared Victoria’s capital the nation’s largest city by population, at 4,875,400 to Sydney’s 4,856,700. Melbourne’s ascension has been unexpected, with the ABS previously predicting that its population wouldn’t overtake Sydney’s until 2031 at the earliest. The amalgamation of Melton in the latest significant urban area classification means Melbourne has had the largest city population in Australia since 2018.
How free is speech in Australia? Poll results
To what extent do Australians think speech is free in this country? According to polling conducted for the Centre for Independent Studies, Australians are evenly divided between those who support restrictions in the interest of protecting vulnerable people (44%), and those who think speech is unduly restricted (47%). The survey results cover various aspects of political and religious freedoms broken down by group characteristics, while accompanying analysis sees the authors conclude there may not be a ‘crisis’ of free speech despite ongoing concerns.
Centre for Independent Studies
Tax cut benefit distribution favours large capital cities
New analysis from the Australia Institute breaks down the distribution of Stage 3 tax cut benefits by city and county electorates, illustrating that the high-income earners who will benefit most from the tax cuts are largely clustered in the Inner Metropolitan areas of Australia’s large capital cities. The 20 electorates that will benefit the most from the cuts are all classified as metropolitan: 10 in Sydney; 5 in Melbourne, 3 in Brisbane, and one in Perth and Canberra.
The Australia Institute
Latest LGIU Australia content
The Australian Human Rights Commission has released a position paper offering a model for an Australian Human Rights Act and associated reforms. This briefing provides an overview of the AHRC’s Position Paper and their proposed model and what implications this holds for local government.
This is the third briefing in our series that explores the changing nature of economic development in Australia and the role councils can play in developing economies that are inclusive, sustainable, and resilient.
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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:
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