1. Discussion begins on developing Australia's first urban policy
A discussion paper which will form the basis of Australia’s first National Urban Policy has been released for community feedback by the Federal Government.
The discussion paper was released on December 1 by Federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, during an address to the Sydney Business Chamber.
Mr Albanese says the initiative is the beginning of a “national conversation on the future shape and character of Australia’s biggest cities and regional centres, the engine rooms of growth, innovation and opportunity”. He says as the world’s most urbanised nation, Australia’s continuing economic prosperity will largely depend on how successful the community is at making cities work better.
The minister says 75% of Australians live in one of the nation’s 18 biggest cities, which generate around 80% of national income and 75 per cent of jobs.
Mr Albanese says while Australian cities are currently amongst the most liveable in the world, the long term challenges they face – such as climate change and population growth – leave no room for complacency. He says in the absence of a new approach, traffic congestion is set to cost Australian businesses and families more than $20 billion a year by the end of this decade.
Mr Albanese says the final version of National Urban Policy will provide a blueprint to:
- better connect infrastructure with work and opportunity in cities so people’s dependency on the car can be reduced;
- develop high quality public transport and infrastructure systems to ease congestion and improve quality of life;
- reduce the carbon footprint of cities and adapt them to the consequences of climate change;
- improve urban planning and design to better reflect increasingly diverse lifestyles, boost access and affordability; and
- get the right mix of urban density and renewal strategies.
Public submissions in response to the discussion paper will close on March 1, 2011, with the final National Urban Policy to be published later in 2011. For more information on the consultation process, click here.
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2. Draft national road safety strategy released
The Australian Local Government Association has welcomed the consultation draft of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-20, which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads by at least 30% annually.
About 1,500 people are killed and another 30,000 people are seriously injured every year on Australian roads.
The draft strategy which can be found here outlines broad directions for the future of road safety. It contains proposed initiatives for the first three years and also includes a range of options for further consideration as the strategy progresses.
President of the ALGA, Genia McCaffery, says councils are collectively responsible for over 650,000 kilometres or 80% of all roads in Australia and local government welcomes the greater emphasis on local roads in the draft strategy.
Cr McCaffery says the internationally recognised 'Safe System' approach adopted in the document accepts that people using the road network will make mistakes and the 'system' needs to be made as safe as possible to ensure it is more forgiving of human errors.
She says this means improving the safety of roads, adding safety features to cars, making sure people obey speed limits and the road rules, and having appropriate sanctions for road users who drive irresponsibly.
Cr McCaffery has urged local government associations and councils to examine the draft strategy and provide feedback by asking the questions: How will this work in my community? Is it practical? Are there alternative approaches to achieve the same or better result? How will these initiatives be paid for? The consultation period in response to the strategy closes on February 11, 2011.
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3. Melbourne's Lord Mayor pushes case for municipal bonds
Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, is campaigning for the introduction of a municipal bonds scheme which he says would “pull forward already viable infrastructure projects” in rapidly growing cities like Melbourne.
Cr Doyle says it is widely acknowledged Australia has an infrastructure gap which needs to be bridged and the bonds scheme would be used to push ahead with projects that make good commercial sense.
The Lord Mayor says he will be talking about his plan with financial institutions in the next few weeks and also seeking a meeting with new Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu, to try to win his support.
He says he wants to go to the Federal Government with the Premier to push the case for municipal bonds, which would allow “mum and dad” investors as well as superannuation fund investors to become involved in the delivery of major infrastructure.
Cr Doyle says his proposal would require approaching a body like the Federal Government’s Office of Financial Management for the right to create the bonds. He says the office would provide advice on the mechanisms involved in establishing the bonds and Infrastructure Australia would act as “a filter” to test the rigour of the project.
Cr Doyle says the scheme would also require the Federal Government to set aside money for tax concessions for individuals and institutions investing in the bonds. He says the Federal Opposition advocated during the campaign for the August election that $150 million be set aside for such concessions.
Cr Doyle says that sort of money set aside for concessions could potentially drive between $15 and $20 billion worth of infrastructure investment, and such a scenario would be “pretty good leverage for the Federal Government”.
He says the proposal has already received a positive response from a range of players in the private and public sectors.
Cr Doyle says that if all parties pledged to push ahead with the proposal right now, he could see a round of funding requests for infrastructure projects being a reality in a year’s time.
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4. ACELG reviews frameworks to help promote excellence in local government
Frameworks designed to promote excellence and continuous improvement in local government are assessed in a review produced by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government.
The ACELG says it has produced the research to help councils better understand the purpose, features and potential usefulness of the frameworks.
The centre consulted with the Local Government Business Excellence Network, local government associations and councils that have experience with one or more of the frameworks in developing the review which can be found here.
All the frameworks included in the review are currently being used by local government, but the ACELG says reference to them cannot be taken as an endorsement.
Frameworks reviewed in the report include international quality frameworks such as the US Baldrige Excellence Framework, the European Framework for Quality Management and the Business Excellence Framework; other improvement frameworks; and methodologies and improvement programs developed for local government.
The ACELG says the frameworks are not always used exclusively by councils – it says some councils have used two or more approaches to help promote excellence.
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5. Planning revamp under new Victorian Government
Victoria’s planning sector is facing major changes under the new Coalition State Government.
Premier, Ted Ballieu, says the planning system will be rebuilt to balance community and developer interests, and will be based on genuine consultation and honesty.
The government has pledged to immediately release more land on Melbourne’s fringes and plans to review the mandated limit to Melbourne’s expansion every two years, potentially delivering more land for greenfield developers.
It will roll back the Labor policy of promoting higher-density development along transport corridors and will target activity centres for increased development.
Mr Baillieu says the planning strategy will be based on 10 principles:
- honest and genuine community engagement and consultation;
- restoring integrity, transparency and certainty to the planning system;
- the sustainable growth of Melbourne;
- respecting and preserving urban character;
- clearly identifying areas for urban renewal and future development zones;
- integrating and making the best use of existing and future infrastructure;
- making clear where urban densification can occur;
- ensuring the social, economic and environmental well-being of the community is preserved through the planning system;
- protecting existing parks and open spaces from development; and
- aiding housing affordability.
Mr Baillieu also says an independent, broad-based anti-corruption commission will have the power to investigate planning decisions in the state.
The Property Council of Australia’s Victorian Division says the new government must commit to providing 15 years of zoned land supply as part of a wider strategy to combat housing affordability challenges. It says the government must work with industry to address housing affordability issues if it wants activity centres and other planning initiatives to achieve their potential.
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6. Top Jobs - Newcastle searching for Acting General Manager
The City of Newcastle is searching for an Acting General Manager, following the resignation of General Manager, Lindy Hyam, to take up an international career opportunity.
An extraordinary meeting of council on November 29 decided to engage consultancies to provide resumes of candidates for the role of Acting General Manager to oversee council operations from early 2011 when Ms Hyam’s resignation takes effect.
Other senior positions currently on offer among Australian local governments include: General Manager Infrastructure and Engineering for the City of Maribyrnong in Victoria; Manager Growth Management for the City of Onkaparinga in South Australia; Manager Works for Upper Lachlan Shire Council in New South Wales; Manager Planning and Strategy for Banana Shire Council in Queensland; and Director Corporate Services for MacDonnell Shire Council in the Northern Territory.
More information about these positions is available on the website of LG Jobs, the specialist email and web-based service that assists councils to locate administrative, executive and engineering personnel, available at www.lgjobs.com.au.
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7. Energy generation complex planned by City of Brisbane
Brisbane City Council is planning to develop a multi-million-dollar energy generation complex in the south of the city.
The council has called for Expressions of Interest from consortia wanting to provide the methane gas facility at Willawong. The EOI process opened on November 24 and interested parties have until January 21, 2011, to lodge their documentation.
According to the development application for the project, the complex is designed to create energy through gas emissions from the land, which was a landfill site until the late 1990s. The electricity created would be fed into the public grid or to the bus depot at Willawong, or both. It is estimated the facility would be able to generate enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes.
A similar facility was commissioned in 2004 by Ipswich City Council. That facility is producing sufficient green power from landfill gas to service the power needs of about 4,000 homes.
Parties can register their interest in the Brisbane City Council project by clicking here.
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8. LGSA says councils tired of picking up State Government bills
The latest cost shifting survey by the Local Government and Shires Associations of New South Wales estimates the cost shifting bill for 2008-2009 was $400 million or 5.74% of local government's total income before capital.
The LGSA says the survey highlights the extent to which councils continue to foot the bill for State and Federal government responsibilities, with local communities ultimately paying the price. The association surveyed 77 councils to determine the burden of expenses and services shifted to councils.
President of the Local Government Association, Keith Rhoades, says cost shifting has risen by $60 million over the past four years.
Cr Rhoades says some of the major cost shifting items outlined in the survey include mandatory contributions to the NSW Fire Brigade and Rural Fire Service; inflated charges for the local government elections; and inadequate funding for public libraries. He says many councils are happy to deliver services because they are the level of government closest to the community. However, councils need to be able to fully recover costs, and residents shouldn't be the ones picking up the tab.
Cr Rhoades says the State Government could ease councils’ burdens by fully reimbursing them for mandatory pension rebates, providing adequate library funding and returning the full amount of the waste levy instead of only sub-standard portions.
He says replacing the current contribution system for emergency services with a broad-based property levy is also key to addressing cost shifting. To view the cost shifting survey, click here.
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9. Changes for councils under new Victorian Coalition Government
Victorian council elections will be held six weeks earlier, a panel will be established to protect the democracy of councils and regional local government will have more planning flexibility under policies put forward by the newly elected Coalition Government.
Jeanette Powell, the Coalition front bencher who will be Minister for Local Government, pledged during the election campaign that municipal elections would be held on the second Saturday in October.
Ms Powell said they would be brought forward to allow incoming councillors more time to familiarise themselves with the workings of councils before planning the following year’s budget. She said the change reflected the wishes of councils.
Ms Powell also pledged the a Coalition would establish a Ministerial-Mayors Advisory Panel to help ensure future State Government decisions would not impose further unfunded responsibilities onto councils. She said the impact of state decisions would be identified and fully considered so that councils would not have to shoulder the burden of constant cost-shifting.
And Coalition leader, now Premier Ted Baillieu, said regional councils would be given the flexibility to alter land use within farming zones to protect prime farming land for agriculture.
Mr Baillieu said councils should have the ability to deliver a zone that best suited the current and future land needs of their municipalities. He said councils would be given the flexibility to review the operation of their farm zones and, in particular, whether the 40 hectare minimum subdivision rule was appropriate across all non-township areas of the municipality.
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10. City of Sydney responds to increased use of bikes
The City of Sydney is responding to the significant increase in bike riders in the city by implementing an education program to help riders, pedestrians and motorists interact more safely and respectfully.
Bike counts at 94 intersections in March and October 2010 showed an average 40% increase in the morning peak and a 29% increase in the afternoon peak. Growth in areas with dedicated cycle facilities nearly tripled.
Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, says pedestrians, cyclists and drivers coexist in major cities across the globe, and council wants that spirit of cooperation in Sydney so that cycling provides a practical, safe and healthy alternative to reduce congestion. She says through the new Street Share Program, council aims to help everyone using Sydney’s streets to share respectfully, and have a safe and enjoyable trip.
The Street Share Program will deliver information for bike riders, pedestrians and motorists. The integrated program of strategies include a shared paths safety campaign; "Explore Your City" group rides; grants for community cycling initiatives; a Sydney Loop Ride taking in the harbour foreshore; free bike maintenance; and riding classes.
The City of Sydney uses social media, advertising, newsletters, events and cycling courses to educate road users and promote safety.
More than 600 people (70% women) have completed the free Cycling Confidence course and 450 have completed the free bicycle maintenance course. In the past three months, more than 10,000 cycling maps with safety information have been distributed and the city's Sydney Cycleways Facebook page has 1500 users.
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11. Maximising Internal Audit Value
The role and delivery of internal audit continues to evolve. Previously, it was a function focussing on compliance activities such as ensuring the procedures and controls were being consistently and properly undertaken by the business.
Those who have little to do with internal audit, or who work with providers who still deliver on a purely compliance-based approach, may continue to have the view that internal audit is a low-value nuisance to the organisation. However, internal audit is not what it used to be. Client demand for greater value and the evolution of the approach adopted by service providers has continued to see the emergence of improved internal audit activities, although the extent of this varies from provider to provider.
There is no doubt that if time and effort is being invested in an independent party looking into aspects of the business, there should be added benefit from the process, that goes beyond simply finding out if you are performing procedures or controls as required.
A modern internal audit approach should be aimed at delivery of an output that has a larger business impact, and a much greater focus on how the business processes are operating. It should not only focus on controls, but also consider the design of those processes from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective.
In addition, if the work is to be meaningful, the internal audit provider should be considering the interaction of the business and process to other areas, in addition to the various supporting components of the process, such as technology platforms, structure and support for staff, policies and procedures and the risk/ controls impacting on the process.
If such an approach is adopted, the nature of improvements raised should be far less focussed on minor control and procedural issues, and more directed toward meaningful business process improvement opportunities.
Partner/Executive Director – Risk Services
Telephone (03) 8610 5620;
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12. PIA Recognises Economic Development in Awards for Regional Planning Achievement
On Friday the 12th of November, the Planning Institute of Australia awarded SGS Economics & Planning and Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd a Certificate of Merit in the category of Regional Planning Achievement. The award was for the recently completed Gladstone Region Economic Development Strategy.
In presenting the award, PIA noted the strategy ‘displayed thorough technical analysis of the region’s socio-economic profile rarely seen in such detail’ and recognised that ‘the strategy’s strength lies in the emphasis placed on leadership and co-operation’.
The strategy, which was recently presented at the National Economic Development Conference, strongly advocates the importance of stakeholder collaboration to deliver regional economic development. The strategy and profile are available online at the Gladstone Region website http://www.gladstoneregion.info.
For more information, please contact Mr. Glenn Churchill of GAPDL at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Mr. Sasha Lennon of SGS at email@example.com.
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13. Preston Civic Project still being re-worked by Darebin Council
It will be well into 2011 before there are any major developments concerning a multi-million dollar project being planned by Darebin Council in inner Melbourne.
Council is re-working its master plan for the Preston Civic Project – a development with a price tag estimated at $140 million.
A council spokesperson says it will be at least six months before the review phase of the project is finished and then council will have to again consult with the Victorian Government about attracting funding.
The council had sought about $16 million from the former Brumby Government for the project, but the money did not eventuate.
The lack of funding forced Darebin Council to abandon the procurement process for the project. Eight companies had made submissions to council in response to a Request for Qualifications.
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14. External review of Port Phillip's governance performance
The City of Port Phillip in Melbourne has just received an external consultant’s report into the level of its governance functions.
Mayor of Port Phillip, Frank O’Connor, says council commissioned the report to track its governance performance and identify opportunities to improve practices.
Cr O’Connor says the results of the governance review showed council received an overall score of 71%, which reflects good governance and is an excellent result half way through council’s term in office. He says some areas of improvement included ensuring communications are accessible to the community, and developing a web-based portal to assist councillors in accessing and managing information relevant to their governance role.
Cr O’Connor says the drive to improve governance performance is cemented in the Council Plan, with the first major strategic direction being ‘Engaging and Governing the City’. He says the city has built a strong foundation of good governance since being elected in 2008, and it is committed to continually build the community’s confidence and trust.
Cr O’Connor says that is why in year two of the Council Plan, council initiated the review to evaluate its performance against good governance criteria.
He says council has already achieved a number of actions under the ‘Engaging and Governing the City’ strategic direction. These include going beyond legislative requirements for consultation and engagement in developing the Council Plan, and improving community engagement at council meetings by eliminating the three minute time restriction on public presentations.
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15. New round of sustainability grants open to Victorian councils
Victorian councils can access $6.7 million in grants under the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord to improve their environmental sustainability and adapt to climate change.
The grants – competitive and non-competitive – are available to local government in three streams involving funding of up to $45,000, $250,000 and $540,000.
There are individual grants (non-competitive process for grants up to $45,000) which are designed to support eligible councils to implement activities identified in their environment strategy and build their capacity to deliver sustainability outcomes and adapt to climate change.
Partnership grants (competitive process for grants up to $250,000) are designed to promote innovation and collaboration between local governments to address climate change and sustainability issues of common concern.
The third stream focuses on regional grants (competitive process for grants up to $540,000) which are designed to support regional groupings of non-metropolitan councils to work with communities to adapt to climate change.
Applications for grants close on December 21, 2010, and successful applicants will be announced in March 2011. Details of funding guidelines and other information can be found here.
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16. Sacked Wollongong councillor sentenced to jail
A former Wollongong councillor, Frank Gigliotti, has been sentenced to up to nine months jail after being found guilty earlier this year of lying to investigators from the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Mr Gigliotti was convicted in July on two counts of intentionally giving misleading evidence to the investigators.
The charges related to a statutory declaration he made about an alleged meeting with Wollongong MP, Noreen Hay, and developer, Frank Vellar, centred on a development application.
The Magistrate in Downing Central Local Court sentenced Mr Gigliotti to up to nine months imprisonment with a non-parole period of four months. He has been granted bail so he can appeal the sentence.
Wollongong Council was sacked after a public inquiry into its affairs in 2008.
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17. Queensland councils condemned over water and sewerage charges
The Queensland Government has stepped up its war of words against councils over new proposals by council-owned water and sewerage businesses to further increase water prices and take additional dividends from the retail water and sewerage businesses.
Natural Resources Minister, Stephen Robertson, says information released by the Queensland Competition Authority shows some council-owned retail water businesses propose to increase their water and sewerage charges by more than 20% a year for the next two years.
Mr Robertson says south-east Queensland councils will share in $560 million in dividends and tax equivalent payments over the next three years from the retail water entities. He says this comes at a time when the State Government is selling bulk water to the region at a $407 million loss this year alone.
Mr Robertson says the region’s councils should be planning to give back some of their profits from retail water businesses to their customers.
He says the state’s dams are full and south east Queensland residents have gone through a lot to get to such a point. He says it’s not a time for councils to be planning how much money they can make from increasing water and sewerage prices.
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18. City of Melbourne produces toolkit for new hospitality ventures
The City of Melbourne has worked with Tourism Victoria and Restaurants and Catering Victoria to equip new hospitality businesses with the right tools to survive in the competitive CBD environment.
The Hospitality Toolkit encourages new businesses to assess the viability of their business model and provides information on how to comply with council regulations when getting started. The toolkit is available to caf?, bar, catering service and restaurant owners within the City of Melbourne municipality. Topics include food and health, planning, liquor licensing, tax and superannuation and leasing.
Future Melbourne (Economic Development and Knowledge City) Committee Chair, Carl Jetter, says starting a new business in the hospitality industry can be daunting. He says it’s critical the right support is available to new businesses and the toolkit will help them do the appropriate thinking and groundwork before they get started.
Only 35% of businesses generating less than $50,000 survive after three years and only 45% of businesses generating between $50,000 and $200,000 survive after three years. The toolkit has been produced in a hard copy format and is available on request by calling the council on (03) 9658 9658.
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19. Giving young women the chance to develop life skills
An eight week project involving Maribyrnong Council, Federal and local police and community organisations has helped 13 young women examine their lives and use art to piece together essential life skills.
The Looking Glass project covered topics about life issues including body image, family and peer relationships, health, hygiene and nutrition. It aimed to strengthen relationships between young women and police, and to target risk factors facing the women. The participants included young women from culturally and linquistically diverse backgrounds, and indigenous backgrounds.
Mayor of the City of Maribyrnong, Sel Sanli, says through the Looking Glass project, organisers created an environment where the women were given the freedom and support to gain essential life skills and confidence.
Cr Sanli says the project was shaped around three essential personal development themes - being, belonging and becoming. He says the program helped the young women create links with family members to ensure they had holistic support both during the project and into the future.
Cr Sanli says projects like Looking Glass create opportunities for council to build trust and rapport with communities that do not regularly access available support services.
A piece of artwork created by the group – a mosaic – has been donated to council and will be exhibited in council buildings across the city before permanently joining the art collection created by young people at Maribyrnong’s Phoenix Youth Centre.
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20. LG Jobs now the leading local government employment website in Australia
- LG Jobs is the #1 Google search for “Local Government Jobs” & “Local Council Jobs”
LGJobs is now the largest online employment site for local government, with over 250 positions listed each week.
It is published by Hallmark Editions, who also produces Councillor Magazine, LG News and Council Manager magazine.
LGJobs is an excellent way to maximise the exposure of your positions vacant whilst minimising your advertising outlay. For a cost of only $250 plus GST (discounts available for advertising packages) your position will be listed on the LGJobs website www.lgjobs.com.au, which receives an average of 22,000 hits per day, and the weekly LG Jobs e-newsletter (18,000 subscribers) until the specified closing date, or for a six week period.
All relevant positions are also listed on our associated boards and mail outs - EnviroJobs, EngineeringJobs, PlanJobs, WaterJobs and RoadJobs FREE of additional charge.
To advertise with LGJobs simply email your ad copy to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (03) 8534 5012. Your ad will be loaded and live on the website with a confirmation email and link sent to you before the close of business on the day received.
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