Breaking News

Regional road safety initiative funded

The Western Australian (WA) Government has secured a funding partnership with the Commonwealth Government to boost the state’s Regional Road Safety Improvement Program.

For the first time, the Commonwealth Government has allocated $80 million to the program in 2020-21, with the State Government contributing its annual $20 million.

The program will be delivered immediately in 2020-21 and will see around 1400 km of roads treated, with shoulder sealing and audible edge lines being installed in every region of WA.

The treatments greatly reduce the number of 'run off road' crashes, which can result in severe trauma and are more common in regional areas. Modelling undertaken using roads where the same safety treatments have been introduced shows the strategy could reduce road trauma in regional WA by 60 percent

WA Local Government Association (WALGA) President, Mayor Tracey Roberts said the funding would ensure safer roads and provide a significant boost to regional jobs.

“Through WALGA State Council, the Local Government sector has resolved support for this initiative as an integral part of improving the safety of the regional road network, and we applaud the State Government for placing the road improvement program on the national agenda.

“With nearly two thirds of all serious crashes in regional WA being the result of a single vehicle running off the road, this program will help to lessen the terrible social and economic impact road trauma has on local communities.”

"This is a positive outcome for communities; we thank the Federal and State Governments, and look forward to the program developing over coming years to improve safety for all who travel in regional WA.”

 

Councils call for certainty as Water Ministers meet today

As Water Ministers meet today for the first time since December, the Murray River Group of Councils is pressing for clear and decisive action that will prioritise certainty for the future of the Murray Darling Basin Plan implementation.

The Murray River Group, which represents communities across northern Victoria, is calling on the Ministerial Council (MinCo) to face the difficult decisions around timing and funding to get the Plan right.

The Group is asking Ministers to focus efforts on tackling the parts of the Basin Plan that are behind schedule; such as the supply projects to deliver 605GL worth of environmental benefits and constraints management that is critical to enabling environmental water to be delivered to where it is required.

Murray River Group of Councils Chair and Swan Hill Rural City Mayor, Bill Moar, said, “These projects are really important to that balance that we keep on hearing about. If they aren’t delivered, then more water will have to be recovered from agriculture to restore the health of the Basin’s ecosystems. Doing that will cause more damage to our communities and put more pressure on our farmers, so let’s deliver the 605GL, even if they take a bit more time, or there have to be new projects.”

The Group is also concerned at recent applications to the Commonwealth Water Efficiency Program that on the face of it are at odds with the socio-economic neutrality criteria agreed by all Basin governments in December 2018.

“[Victorian Water Minister] Lisa Neville and MinCo worked hard and listened and agreed the socio-economic criteria and we thought that had clarified it,” said Cr Moar. “Only now we are seeing proposals that really aren’t water saving projects. We want Ministers to be really clear about their commitment to the neutrality principles and then tell their departments to adhere to them please.”

The Group also expressed its support for Minister Neville on the issue of deliverability and the risks of increased extraction licences in the Murray downstream of the Barmah Choke to the environment and to existing water entitlement holders.

MRGC called on Ministers to urgently implement a consistent mechanism for issuing new extraction licences that will not adversely affect existing entitlement holders.

Other areas where the MRGC councils are seeking better outcomes for their communities include improved transparency and accountability for environmental watering, as well as reform of the water market to improve transparency and consistency.

The Murray River Group of Councils comprises six councils in northern Victoria, Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils and Loddon, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Moira Shires.

Women in local government receive federal support

The Federal Government announced yesterday $1.8 million to be granted this financial year (2019-20), under the Women’s Leadership and Development Program (WLDP), to four projects targeted towards achieving women’s economic security, and supporting women during the pandemic.

Local Government Professionals (LG Pro) Australia will receive a share of the funding to support women working in local government through virtual networking, online peer support, resource sharing and research into the roles of women through COVID-19 and beyond.

CEO LG Pro Australia, Clare Sullivan, said, “We already know that COVID-19 has severely impacted councils and their staff, as well as the services they offer everyday Australians. Most acutely though, we’re finding that women in the workforce are disproportionately impacted by crises like the pandemic.”

The local government workforce of approximately 200,000 has been affected by COVID-19 as councils have suffered financially.

Rate relief, facility closures, and reduced revenue streams have impacted council finances with the potential to fuel thousands of job losses.

Of these, women disproportionately represent the part-time and casual positions most likely to face these job losses or reduced hours.

“As the peak body for local government officers, we are committed to helping women in our workforce by mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on female local government employees.

“This partnership and grant will help us develop resources and opportunities to dampen these impacts and protect the economic security of these workers.”

NSW Local government elections postponed

The New South Wales Government has postponed the 2020 Local government elections for 12 months to 4 September 2021.

Local Government New South Wales (LG NSW) President, Linda Scott, welcomed the announcement, and hoped the extended period would allow time to address the rapidly rising cost of local elections borne by local communities.

“Administratively, council elections take up to 12 months to organise and can absorb considerable administrative resources. The 2020 council elections were set to be the biggest single public event on the New South Wales calendar.”

Cr Scott said postponing the elections provided LG NSW with an opportunity to work with the State Government and the Minister for Local Government on the key issue of election costs, which have increased by as much as 100 percent in the last three years.

“According to the New South Wales Electoral Commission, these cost hikes are a result of rising staffing, venue and ballot paper printing costs.

“Not only are the increases unreasonably high, they come at a time when councils can least afford them, and the people who will end up paying for it are the residents of councils that have to pull money from infrastructure and services to pay the bill.

“LGNSW wants to work with the NSW Government to ensure election costs don’t increase by more than the rate cap limit, which is 2.6 percent.

“One way this could happen is by ensuring schools and other election venues don’t overcharge, especially since public schools enjoy subsidised use of council facilities such as sporting complexes.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW had written to the Premier seeking to work with the Government to develop a sensible, long term funding program that would put the NSWEC on a stable economic footing without councils having to carry the can.

Renewable energy agreement delivers

Renewable energy agreement delivers Hawksbury City Council locks in green energy for the long term.

Hawkesbury City Council, New South Wales, has taken a major step towards its goal of achieving net-zero emissions, with the signing of a long-term energy contract with ENGIE, underpinned by renewable energy. Read more >

Bushfire recovery

Bushfire recovery Photo courtesy Adelaide Hills Council.

A Total Fire Ban was declared in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, Western Australia, on 22 May 2020. Read more >

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