Weekly roundup of policy news and data releases.
Monday, 17 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
North Sydney Olympic Pool costs overrun to $89m
An independent review by consultants PwC, commissioned by North Sydney Council, has found that the cost to redevelop the North Sydney Olympic Pool has grown to at least $89m, $31m than originally estimated, and that it will not be completed until April 2024. Work on the redevelopment began in March 2021. It includes upgrades to the indoor and outdoor pools, and building a new 970-seat grandstand, children’s water play area and expanded gym. The council plans to strip $11.8m from its capital works budget, which is used to fund upgrades to local roads, footpaths and playgrounds, in 2023/24 in an attempt to claw back costs. The report also said the council would need to consider a strategy to improve the long-term financial sustainability of the pool complex, including “alternative uses for the facility, taking into account the iconic location”.
Victoria to pay 10¢ for used cans and bottles
Victoria residents will be able to get 10 cents back on used plastic coffee cups, glass bottles and drink cans from November 1st, as part of the state government’s recycling reforms. Environment Minister Ingrid Stitt said there would be 600 collection points across the state, making it one of the biggest and most accessible container deposit schemes in the country. “It will be a scheme Victorians should have every confidence in”, she said. “We know Victorians are eager to do more in terms of recycling and protecting our environment, and through the CDS scheme coupled with our other very important waste and recycling policies...we have one of the most comprehensive ways across the country to recycle our materials and protect our precious environment”. The scheme will be operated by paper giant Visy, NSW container deposit scheme operator TOMRA Cleanaway, and resource recovery non-profit, Return-It.
Gold Coast mayor wants services to stay on at Couran Cove
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate has called for electricity and water services to remain open to residents at Couran Cove, a development on South Stradbroke Island, amid an ongoing legal battle with providers who claim they are owed millions of dollars. "Pleading as a citizen of the Gold Coast, I would say, while things are being adjudicated on, don't turn off the essential services such as electricity and water," Cr Tate said. "Continue on with that and the metre keeps ticking in regards to the debt and let the court sort out who owes what”. Couran Cove is home to a mixture of permanent residents and holiday home owners who are obliged to pay levies to their body corporate so they can access services that are otherwise not available. As a result of the dispute, the Queensland Government has been shipping in water for residents and providing financial counselling and disability support.
More than 100 councillors campaign for fuel efficiency standards
A join statement signed by 120 elected officials from councils calls on the federal government to legislate fuel efficiency standards. The statement calls for mandatory standards that would deliver at least equivalent settings to those in other major markets; improve choice and affordability for Australian drivers; and support the transition to 100% zero emissions vehicle take-up. The measures aim to secure a pipeline of affordable low and zero-emission vehicles for use in council fleets and to encourage take-up within communities.
Campaign to combat confusion and misinformation on Voice vote
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has begun an outreach campaign to provide 17.3 million eligible Australian voters with information ahead of the upcoming Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum. The move comes after community leaders and government agencies expressed concerns over a basic lack of understanding about the process as well as the ‘deluge’ of misinformation being spread. Voters are being encouraged to visit a special website explaining the basics of the federal referendum and information on the constitution.
Innovative flood portal goes live in Australian first
Lockyer Valley Regional Council has officially launched its new Flood Information Portal in a national first for service provision of this type. The portal allows the council to consolidate flood information into an easily accessible online system that can instantly provide citizens with detailed information and advice at property-level. Developed with support from Queensland Government’s Innovation and Improvement Fund, the new service can provide data even for specific locations within a lot; ideal for larger and rural residential properties where flood constraints can vary widely across the property.
Briefings and Reports
Essential workers now priced out of rental homes across Australia
Figures from a new report show that essential workers are now unable to afford to rent alone across almost the entirety of Australia, exacerbating regional skill mismatches and shortages. Typical rental costs have increased by 31% over the past three years, with many essential workers forking out 75% of their income on housing costs. The new report by Everybody’s Home includes state and territory level breakdowns and analysis of ongoing issues around affordability, as well as detailed policy recommendations.
High potential but slower progress in global hydrogen race
The Australian government’s annual State of Hydrogen report has been released, analysing clean hydrogen industry performance and detailing the current pipeline of projects across regions. The report finds that Australia already has the resources, technical skills, and global trust to seize opportunities in hydrogen – and is home to 40% of all announced global hydrogen projects. However, a warning is provided over the slow speed of pilot projects and hub development that could see Australia lose its competitive edge in the global market.
Toward sustainable housing at the neighbourhood scale
A new report from AHURI examines the challenges and opportunities in the design of sustainable housing developments at the neighbourhood scale, which they call a ‘missed opportunity’ currently. The report highlights the major barriers to implementation in Australia, drawing on a large pool of case studies from across Europe and Australia to exemplify different considerations and inform future practice. The research finds a need for stricter regulatory requirements on urban sustainability in general, as well as a need for policy frameworks and development models that can support sustainable housing development at neighbourhood scale.
Guidance released for businesses tapping into pedal power
Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads has produced a new guide for businesses, helping them to become more bike-friendly. The guide draws on perspectives of bike riders, businesses, councils and industry groups to break down essential considerations for businesses, including both the benefits of catering to cyclists and what riders are after from businesses. The guide is part of a wider strategy for encouraging cycling take-up to reduce emissions and congestion.
Inequality in Australia is ‘on steroids’ in new data
New data from the Australia Institute marks Australia as a global outlier in maldistribution of economic gains, ahead of the EU, UK, US and China. Since 2009, the top 10% of earners have reaped 93% of real economic growth per capita; a radical reversal of long term trends towards income equality in Australia that since 1950. The report highlights stagnating wages, insecure work, soaring corporate profits and an increasingly unfair tax system as the primary causes, and is expected to put pressure on the Government over the ongoing stage 3 tax cut controversy.
Bus electrification lagging at just 0.2%
Despite state government commitments to transition to zero-emission transport, new data finds that just 200 out of 100,000 buses in Australia are currently electric. Around 71% of Victorians support a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2030, with similar levels of support for local local procurement of electric buses. New South Wales is currently leading the transition with 101 electric buses on order, followed by Victoria with 41 electric buses in use, Queensland with 18 promised this year, and the ACT with 12 in operation.
Latest LGIU Australia briefings
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.
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.
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.