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New look congress

New look congress Social distancing at ALGA’s hybrid 2020 national congress.

Last week’s Special Local Roads and Transport Congress was a triumph – both in technological terms and the extent to which vital and pressing issues facing local government today were explored in detail. Read more >

Liverpool recognised globally as city of innovation

Liverpool recognised globally as city of innovation CSIRO will operate from the Western Sydney Aerotropolis by 2026.

Liverpool, New South Wales, has been recognised on the world stage as it joins a select group of 20 global innovation precincts through the Global Institute on Innovation Districts. Read more >

Events boost local economy

Events boost local economy Broom celebrated the 50th annual Shinju Matsuri Festival (festival of the pearl).

Broome’s normal seasonal tourism calendar has been turned upside down in 2020 – with the local Shire in Western Australia playing a key role in the town’s prosperity. Read more >

Creating an education destination

In a bid to become a national and international education destination of choice, Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC), Queensland, has thrown its support behind Study Toowoomba.

Mayor, Paul Antonio said, “Our region is serious about being an education hub and the establishment of Study Toowoomba will initiate a major campaign to attract students from within Australia and internationally.

“We’ve been working with the Toowoomba region education and training industry to establish an independent organisation that will function as the peak industry body and work on increasing the industry’s contribution to the economy.

“Because of the importance of education to our Region, Council has partnered with University of Southern Queensland (USQ), TAFE Queensland, and other regional education and training sector stakeholders to establish one voice for our education and training sector.

Councillor Nancy Sommerfield, Council’s representative on the Study Toowoomba Management Committee, said, “As a former employee in the education sector here in Toowoomba, I’m fully aware of how important the industry is to this region.

“We currently have about 2154 international student enrolments in the Toowoomba Region which provides 636 jobs and $96 million to our economy.

“This is an exciting concept and by being on the committee, Council will have the opportunity to help in the strategic direction and management of Study Toowoomba.”

The launch of Study Toowoomba was made possible through a grant of $145,000 over two years from the Queensland Government under the International Education and Training Partnership Fund, with matching funding being provided by Toowoomba Regional Council and the University of Southern Queensland.

As a founding member, Toowoomba Regional Council provided $35,000 per annum for three years to Study Toowoomba.

Presidents comment – Councillor Lambros Tapinos President Victorian Local Governance Association

Victorian Local Government Elections during a Pandemic
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt Australian communities, the 2020 Victorian local government elections were set to break new ground.

With the Local Government Act 2020 passing into law, significant reforms to local government were expected to coincide with the election of over 600 local government councillors across 76 (of 79) Victorian local government areas.

The complication of the COVID-19 pandemic and its public health disruptions have highlighted the challenges for councils implementing ambitious state government reforms. The spotlight also turned to the democratic complexities of holding free and fair elections in an environment where the campaign activities of many candidates was limited.

The onset of the pandemic has again demonstrated the resilience and adaptability of local government and its capability to service communities at a time of need. 

To defer or not to defer
The Victorian Government decided the elections would go ahead as planned via a postal election.

The Minister (under s257(5) of the Act) may delay scheduled elections ’to another Saturday as nearest as possible to that election day’. However, longer deferral periods may carry greater complexities for councils and stakeholders.

Significantly, sitting councillors were elected for a four year term that ended on 24 October 2020. 

It is arguable that beyond that date there would be no mandate for those councillors.

The arguments over deferral posed a ‘catch-22’. 

For the elections to go ahead during a pandemic the limited campaigning capacity was argued to favour incumbent councillors. 

But a deferral would also extend the term of those same incumbents, giving them continued profile and removing the community’s opportunity to have their say on their elected representatives in that time.

The Act provides in s257(5) that the Minister, in ordering deferral, would need to be satisfied that the ‘event or circumstance could adversely affect the conduct of the general election’.

The Minister considered advice from the Victorian Electoral Commission regarding its capacity to conduct the election safely.

Campaigning activities during these elections was evidently changed. 

With Victorians under COVID-19 restrictions, for many candidates campaigning was limited to what could be done from the confines of their own homes.

It was said to be a truly ‘social media’ election.

While the use of social media in election campaigning is becoming a global trend, this did create angst for some in Victoria.

As we go to print with this article, I can report that the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) has now declared the results of all Victorian council elections with 313 new councillors and 24 councils with a majority of women. Fifty-five percent of councils have a majority or equal number of women and men. 

The Victorian Government has set a target of 50 percent women’s representation by 2025 in its Gender Equality Strategy, Safe and Strong. In 2020 we have attained 44 percent.

My congratulations to all those who put their hand up to run and congratulations and welcome to all returning and new councillors for their four year term.

2020 what a year!

Heritage Trail opens

Heritage Trail opens The people of York gather for the opening of Greenhills Heritage Trail.

A blustery day didn’t dampen the spirits on Sunday 20 September, of the 160 or so people who attended the opening of the Greenhills Heritage Trail, York, just beyond the fringes of Perth. Read more >

This month

New look congress

Last week’s Special Local Roads and Transport Congress was a triumph – both in technological terms and the extent to which vital and pressing issues facing local government today were explored in detail. Read more >


Editorial

Read more >


Liverpool recognised globally as city of innovation

Liverpool, New South Wales, has been recognised on the world stage as it joins a select group of 20 global innovation precincts through the Global Institute on Innovation Districts. Read more >


Events boost local economy

Broome’s normal seasonal tourism calendar has been turned upside down in 2020 – with the local Shire in Western Australia playing a key role in the town’s prosperity. Read more >


Creating an education destination

In a bid to become a national and international education destination of choice, Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC), Queensland, has thrown its support behind Study Toowoomba. Read more >


Presidents comment – Councillor Lambros Tapinos President Victorian Local Governance Association

Read more >


Heritage Trail opens

A blustery day didn’t dampen the spirits on Sunday 20 September, of the 160 or so people who attended the opening of the Greenhills Heritage Trail, York, just beyond the fringes of Perth. Read more >


Beach access in time for Christmas

Kingston District Council, South Australia, has fast tracked a recommendation from its Maria Creek Sustainable Infrastructure Project Community Focus Group, for a temporary beach access option for the upcoming summer season. Read more >


Powerlines go underground to restore historic streetscape

Powerlines will soon disappear from the central business district of Victoria’s historic gold rush era town, Maldon, marking a major milestone in the Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Maldon Streetscape Revitalisation Project. Read more >


Champion marks open season for all at the pool

Australian swimming champion Ian Thorpe joined Wollondilly Council, New South Wales, and locals at the Wollondilly Leisure Centre to welcome the installation of a new hoist which will provide greater accessibility to the pool. Read more >


Interactive playground raises the bar

Banyule City Council, Victoria, is setting a new standard for play by recently installing Victoria’s first outdoor interactive play equipment as part of a playground redevelopment at Macleod Village Green. Read more >


Economic strategy to grow the future

Transforming the economy of Australia’s third largest Council is an enormous undertaking, but it’s exactly the kind of challenge that attracted former trade commissioner Paul Martins to Moreton Bay Regional Council, Queensland. Read more >


The Good Oil by Rod Brown – A solution to politicians bonking staffers

The recent brouhaha about bonking among federal politicians and their staffers was a little over the top. Read more >


Grand Pacific Walk free water project

This summer in Wollongong, it will be easier to quench your thirst with nine new water refilling stations installed from Pinecourt Reserve in Austinmer to East Corrimal Beach. Read more >


Revitalised nursery growing from the ground up

Penrith City Council, New South Wales, is revitalising its 35 year old nursey to ensure Council is self-sufficient in the production of local providence plants and shrubs to meet existing and future operational needs. Read more >


Tools to help prevent violence against women and children*

Violence against women and their children in our communities is serious, prevalent and driven by gender inequality. It is an issue that affects all communities. Read more >


Councillor profiles - Kathy Sajowitz Mayor Oberon Council

Read more >


Councillor profiles - Ryan Palmer Mayor Port Stephens Council

Read more >


Diary Dates

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the team at Local Government Focus

Your support has enabled us to provide quality, independent coverage of what's happening in Local Government!

The office will be closed from the 16th of December to the 3rd of January.

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