Australia: Local Government News - 27 February 2018

Last Updated: 2 March 2018
Article by Jenny Humphris, Joseph Monaghan and Peter Holt

Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2018

In the media – National

Australians 'in the dark' on Government digital initiatives
Australian governments at all levels are strongly pushing the digital delivery of their services. But new research shows that their efforts have yet to make a major impact on most citizens (13 February 2018). More...

Open Government plan attracting action
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has opened consultation on Australia's next Open Government National Action Plan. From 19 February to 30 March, you can have your say online by submitting and discussing ideas on their website and register to attend a face-to-face consultation (13 February 2018). More...

Australians' trust in government at an all-time low
The percentage of Australians who say they have trust in their governments has declined to 35 percent. The metric is contained in the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, which measures public trust in four types of institution across 28 countries (09 February 2018). More...

The demise of kerbside recycling
Australia's recycling industry is feeling the impact of China's ban on a range of imported recyclable rubbish, with industry leaders warning they cannot keep collecting recycling if there's nowhere for it to go. On 1 January, China stopped accepting 24 categories of solid waste, disrupting the export of more than 600,000 tonnes of material out of Australia each year (08 February 2018). More...

Councillors not in 'office of profit'
Australia's High Court has said that mayors and other councillors are eligible to stand for state and federal parliaments, ruling that they do not hold 'an office of profit under the Crown'. The judgement came with a unanimous decision by the Court in a case brought by One Nation against Devonport mayor Steve Martin (07 February 2018). More...

Minister moves to suspend Blue Mountains Council over asbestos investigation
The Blue Mountains City Council has seven days to explain why it should not be suspended over alleged "conflicts of interest" during an investigation into serious asbestos safety breaches (16 February 2018). More...

Council takes strong action against vandals
Tree vandals are at it again on the New South Wales coastline, and a local council plans to crack down on the behaviour, by installing a sign in place of the trees (15 February 2018). More...

In the media – Queensland

No reprieve for communities
Communities in south west Queensland are reeling from the Senate's disallowance of a Government move to lessen the impact on irrigators as it seeks to increase environmental river flows in the Murray Darling Basin (16 February 2018). More...

Fraser Coast Mayor Chris Loft sacked by Local Government Minister
Councillor Chris Loft is dismissed as the Fraser Coast Mayor amid "serial breaches", Queensland Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe says (16 February 2018). More...

Statement from Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe
This week the Local Government Minister has exercised his power under the Local Government Act to recommend Governor-in-Council dismiss Councillor Chris Loft as Mayor of Fraser Coast Regional Council. To date, there have been 11 findings of either inappropriate conduct or misconduct against Councillor Loft (15 February 2018). More...

Palaszczuk Government re-commits to reform agenda
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath has reinforced the Palaszczuk Government's reform agenda by re-introducing key outstanding bills in the first sitting week of the 56th parliament. The Crime and Corruption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill widens the definition of corrupt conduct and provides the Crime and Corruption Commission with broader investigative powers (15 February 2018). More...

Logan City Council in uproar as CEO sacked
Logan City Council has sacked its CEO Sharon Kelsey, who was appointed only in June 2017. The council has refused to give any reasons for her termination, and Ms Kelsey herself has said she cannot comment for legal reasons. She was hired as CEO after Logan City Council became one of the Queensland councils being investigated by Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) as part of Operation Belcarra (12 February 2018). More...

Sacked Logan Council CEO says review confirmed her job fitness
Almost a week after being sacked as Logan City Council CEO in controversial circumstances, Sharon Kelsey tells the ABC an evidence-based review had found her to be competent in the role (13 February 2018). More...

Logan Council 'illegally' sacked CEO Sharon Kelsey, councillor says
Logan councillor Darren Power says his fellow councillors acted illegally in voting 7-5 to sack council CEO Sharon Kelsey last week, and that they did so in defiance of a CCC letter warning against the move (13 February 2018). More...

Local government representatives' hotline to Integrity Commissioner
Mayors and Local Government Councillors will be able to seek ethical and integrity advice from the Queensland Integrity Commissioner, as part of the Palaszczuk Government's increased transparency and accountability agenda (12 February 2018). More...

Congestion charge, tolls axed in Queensland road infrastructure plan
The Infrastructure Association of Queensland wants an audit of Brisbane's busiest roads to determine a CBD boundary in which to charge motorists via electronic tracking of their cars. But people would enjoy free travel on the underused Clem7, Airport Link and Legacy Way as a trade-off to encourage them to bypass busier arterials (12 February 2018). More...

Grant reform needed for financial security
Grant funding for local governments must be reformed if councils are to achieve financial sustainability, according to the LGAQ and a review by KPMG and AEC Group. The report states the existing model is failing to deliver the best financial outcome for people in the communities and undermines councils' ability to plan the future, manage their assets and achieve financial sustainability (09 February 2018). More...

MOU to boost trade and investment
The LGAQ and the Queensland State Government have signed a memorandum of understanding that formalises the agreement to work with councils to boost trade and investment (09 February 2018). More...

Brisbane parking woes 'sucking life' out of local businesses
Brisbane business groups warn inner-city parking problems have reached a point of crisis, and much more needs to be done to stave off deepening revenue losses (08 February 2018). More...

Struggling farmers look to renewables for a second wind
A 123-turbine wind farm west of Brisbane won't just be the biggest renewable energy project in the southern hemisphere, it's also opening up a potential source of income for a community hit hard by drought (08 February 2018). More...

In the media – Victoria

Councils keep recycling but question of where it will go remains unresolved
Ratepayers fear they will have to pay more for their recycling collection services as councils and the State Government try to work out what to do with it after China imposed a ban on imports of low-grade and contaminated waste (07 February 2018). More...

In Practice and Courts

National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Draft Investment Mandate 2018
Provides directions about the two core functions of the NHFIC which will support investment in Australian housing: the establishment and operation of an Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator and the National Housing Infrastructure Facility. The draft Investment Mandate provides other detail on the NHFIC including eligible projects and project proponents, the financing mechanisms and lending criteria related to its activities. Submissions from interested stakeholders close on 9 March 2018. The Explanatory Statement is available from the Commonwealth Treasury website.

Open Government Partnership Australia
Australia's first Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18 comprises 15 ambitious commitments that promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. This website contains information on our Plan and progress towards its implementation. The next meeting is on 22 February, Canberra 2018. More...

Extreme weather conference 2018
The impact of climate change on infrastructure and government will be one of the key themes of Australia's first Xtreme Weather Conference, to be held at the Sofitel Brisbane on 20 March 2018. The conference brings together climate change experts with local government planners, academics and emergency services to share information on climate change. More...

National General Assembly (NGA) of Local Government 2018
The National General Assembly (NGA) of Local Government is the peak annual event for local government, attracting in excess of 800 mayors and councillors each year. This year's event takes place at the National Convention Centre in Canberra from 17 – 20 June. Registrations are available online. Motions are open and need to be lodged by 30 March using the online form. A discussion paper is also available to provide guidance to councils for the development of Motions for debate.

LG Professionals Australia's National Congress and Business Expo 2018
The LG Professionals Australia National Congress 2018 will be held in Canberra, 22-24 August, at the Canberra Rex Hotel. More...

Closing the Gap Agenda
Closing the Gap agenda has begun with the release of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) discussion paper to support ongoing consultations. More sessions are scheduled across the country in coming months in 2018. Submissions close 31 March. More...

Applying for Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program funding: proposals
The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP, has announced that Round Six of the HVSPP was open for proposals from 15 December 2017 to 30 March 2018. State, territory and local governments are eligible to apply for funding for projects that will upgrade road infrastructure to improve heavy vehicle safety and freight efficiency. More...

Applications for funding: Round Six of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP)
Local Government, as well as the state and territory governments may apply for funding, with the Federal government contributing up to 50 per cent of the total project cost to successful projects, up to a maximum of $5 million. About $98 million will be provided Round Six funding. Proposals will be accepted up to 30 March 2018. More...

Regulatory Reform Summit 2018
The Regulatory Reform Summit 2018 (27 February - 02 March 2018) seeks to cover the most topical and timely of trends in regulatory transformation and provide solutions to common regulatory struggles. The conference aims to help policy makers solve the jigsaw policy that is re-regulation - creating smarter, simpler, more responsive and technologically integrated regulation. Hear from 30+ leading government departments. More...

Round Two: Commonwealth's Building Better Regions Fund
Applications from councils and not-for-profit organisations are now being accepted for Round Two of the Commonwealth's Building Better Regions Fund. Those interested can find out more about the program guidelines by clicking here. A second funding round is expected to open for applications in the first half of 2018.

Consultation: Regulation Impact Statement on options to phase out PFOS chemicals
The Department of the Environment and Energy has released a consultation Regulation Impact Statement on options to phase out PFOS chemicals nationwide. The Department is holding a number of public sessions from 10 November. The public comment period closes on 26 February 2018. More...

Queensland

Water Queensland
The water management protocol for the Moreton catchment is now available online (15 February 2018). More...

QLS: New FIRB guidance released on acquisition of agricultural land by foreign investors
The Australian Government has released new guidance clarifying that foreign investors can only acquire agricultural land when there has been an open and transparent sale process (07 February 2018). More...

Have your say on the Anzac Square Restoration and Enhancement project
Queensland Government invites all Queenslanders to share their views on the restoration and enhancement of Queensland's State War Memorial, Anzac Square, which is now approaching the start of the final stages of work. Closes: 28 February 2018. More...

LGAQ: submission on the draft Investment Mandate
The LGAQ is seeking input from councils wishing to contribute to the LGAQ submission. Interested councils are encouraged to email their feedback to LGAQ's Principal Advisor by 2 March 2018. An exposure draft of the NHFIC Investment Mandate Direction 2018, and the associated Explanatory Statement is available from the Commonwealth Treasury website.

Consultation on Reef Regulation Impact Statement
As one of the leading contributors to the management and protection of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland local government has an important role to play in the ongoing conservation of the Reef. The State Government is proposing enhanced regulations around nutrient and sediment pollution from key industries in Great Barrier Reef catchments as part of a Regulatory Impact Statement for enhancing reef protection regulations (RIS). The LGAQ is preparing a submission and seeking input from councils within the Reef Catchment.

Victoria

Local Government Act 1989 review consultation sessions
The MAV will be conducting a number of member council consultations in early February to inform our response on behalf of the sector, concerning the exposure draft for the Local Government Bill. Submissions on the exposure draft close on 23 February. Due to the extremely short consultation period, the following sessions have been arranged). More...

Draft Local Government Bill on public view
Intended to replace the Local Government Act 1989, the draft bill would implement "consistent representation structures and voting methods for council elections across Victoria, and require councils to adopt long-term plans and budgets backed by their local communities". The exposure draft was open for public comment until 23 February 2018, with feedback to be used to shape any final changes before the Bill is legislated in 2018. More...

LaunchVic funds
LaunchVic's sixth funding round focuses on increasing diversity and inclusion by supporting local councils to improve access and participation in the startup ecosystem across Victoria. LaunchVic is looking to invest in local councils in regional Victoria and outer metro areas. These grants will provide councils with an opportunity to secure funding to implement programs and activities set out in the Startup Guide and Toolkit. Applications close on 22 March.

New South Wales

2018/19 Floodplain Management Grants
The Office of Environment and Heritage is seeking applications for Floodplain Management Grants for 2018/19. Applications close on 28 March 2018. Funding is provided for a variety of projects that manage flood risk. Visit the Office of Environment and Heritage website for information about eligible projects, forms and grant application guidelines.

2018 Waste Conference
Registrations are open for the 2018 Waste Conference (Coffs Harbour, 8-10 May). This annual conference is the premier event for the waste management industry in Australia. LGNSW supports this conference as it is particularly relevant to the local government sector. Find out more and register via the conference website.

Strategy for Nature
LGNSW is seeking comments from councils about a revised biodiversity conservation strategy, by 02 March 2018. The draft strategy, Australia's Strategy for Nature 2018-2030: Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Inventory, aims to improve ways to drive change in biodiversity management priorities and alignment with Australia's international biodiversity commitments.

Reminder: New Code of Meeting Practice Model for Councils
The NSW Office of Local Government is seeking feedback on its new draft model code of meeting practice for councils. LGNSW is preparing a sector-wide submission and councils are invited to make comments or submissions to be included in this.. Submissions close on 16 March 2018. The draft Model Code of Meeting Practice proposes a uniform set of meeting rules for councils across the state to ensure more accessible, orderly, effective and efficient meetings.

Regional Joint Organisations
Interested rural and regional councils have until 28 February 2018 to submit nominations to form joint organisations to the NSW Government. The Local Government Amendment (Regional Joint Organisations) Act 2017 commenced on 15 December 2017 allowing councils to voluntarily join new Joint Organisations (JOs) in their planning region. By 28 February 2018, Submit your nomination via email. Include the resolution and a completed Forming a Joint Organisation – checklist. The JO network and funding allocations will be announced in March.

Public Reserves Funding
The NSW Government is making $17 million available in the next round of the Public Reserves Management Fund Program. All Crown reserve managers, including councils, are encouraged to apply. Applications for the 2018/19 round close on 9 March. Information on how to apply will be available at www.crownland.nsw.gov.au.

Extension to Transitional Arrangements for the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016
The NSW Government extended transitional arrangements for development consent under Part 4 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act to allow assessment to continue under former planning provisions until 25 February 2018 in most local government areas. More...

LGNSW Tourism Conference
Now in its 14th year, the LGNSW Tourism Conference 2018 is coming soon to Parkes (12 – 14 March). This year's program addresses the latest changes in the tourism industry. More...

Cases

The Pavilions Port Douglas [2018] QBCCMCmr 34
JURISDICTION – whether an adjudicator can decide if local government sewerage charges mistakenly paid by the body corporate on behalf of a lot owner constitute a body corporate debt. Act, ss229A, 312; Accommodation Module, s150.

Inner West Council v Krelja [2018] NSWLEC 4
CIVIL ENFORCEMENT- old and destabilised chimney on residence unsafe and posing risk to life and property- Council s124 Local Government Act Order requiring urgent remedial repairs to avoid risk of collapse and injury- failure to comply with s124 Order- safety of persons proximate to chimney given paramount consideration demanding precautionary approach by Court- s678 Order made for the Applicant to carry out remedial work- continual absence of elderly Respondents from all stages of proceedings no reason to withhold necessary orders. Local Government Act 1993 ss124, 678(10).

Manning v Bathurst Regional Council [2018] NSWCATAD 18
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – Government information – Where applicant sought review of decision to refuse access to information – Whether that information, to which access was refused, was within the scope of the applicant's access application – Whether Tribunal has jurisdiction to review decision concerning information which is outside the scope of an access application, where decision made in purported determination of access application. Local Government Act 1993 (NSW).

Legislation

Queensland

Bills Re-Introduced 15 February 2018

Local Government Legislation (Validation of Rates and Charges) Amendment Bill 2018

Crime and Corruption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018
The CCC Bill will widen the definition of "corrupt conduct" to capture people outside the public sector who impair public confidence in public administration. The Bill also increases the CCC's investigatory powers, to investigate conduct liable to allow, encourage or cause corrupt conduct.

Local Government (Councillor Complaints) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018

Subordinate legislation as made

No 13: Local Government (Fraser Coast Regional Council—Dismissal of Councillor) Amendment Regulation 2018 – 16 February 2018.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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