Australia: Inside track: Local Government: In the media, reports, cases and legislation

Last Updated: 6 June 2019
Most Read Contributor in Australia, July 2019

In the media

2019 Federal Election wrap
ALGA has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on behalf of the sector congratulating him on his election win, thanking him for the increase in Roads to Recovery funding and reminding him of the importance of the Financial Assistance Grants to local governments for unlocking our communities potential (24 May 2019). More...

New guide for upgrading street lighting and smart controls
Local councils, main roads agencies and utilities providers thinking about large-scale upgrades of their street lighting and smart control systems can now use a new free guide to help their decision-making (24 May 2019). More...
Note: The Model Business Case was created by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia's Street Lighting and Smart Control Programme and is supported by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Government's Department of the Environment and Energy

Strategic risk management and councils
Many Australian local councils could have foreseen the strategic risk involved in exporting recycling waste to China, the founder of Paladin Risk Management says. Rod Farrar, whose company is a sponsor of the 2019 National General Assembly, says there are differences between strategic and operational risks (24 May 2019). More...

Some of the nation's finest council-led projects showcased
Seven government-led projects have been recognised at the 2019 Property Council of Australia awards, highlighting the role of local governments in fostering innovation in property development (24 May 2019). More...

Need to ditch 'damaging obsessions' about local government
Australia needs to rethink its 'damaging obsession' with the board of directors model of local government and instead promote the role of councillors as community connectors, brokers and leaders, a public policy expert says (23 May 2019). More...

Australian Electoral Commission finds 87 cases of election ads breaching law
For the first time this election, the AEC was also able to seek civil penalties for breaches of the electoral law. Experts and former insiders have warned the election watchdog is hamstrung by a lack of power, past court decisions, resourcing and the increasingly complex challenges posed by social media (22 May 2019). More...

Productivity Commission seeks submissions on new transport issues paper
The Productivity Commission's new National Transport Regulatory Reform paper seeks feedback as it assesses transport reforms since an agreement was reached at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2009 (17 May 2019). More...

NSW

$13 million new look for World Square plaza under 'rooftop canopy'
World Square plaza would be closed to the heavens with a rooftop canopy doubling as an Indigenous-inspired "public artwork", under plans lodged with the City of Sydney council. (20 May 2019). More...

They speculated, they own the risk: Developers sweat on St Leonards plan
Over the past seven years, developers have spent hundreds of millions acquiring about 90 suburban lots to the south of St Leonards station and the Pacific Highway, in anticipation those lots would be rezoned for a "St Leonards South" precinct backed by Lane Cove Council. (17 May 2019). More...

Tribunal approves rate rises for six Sydney councils
The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved applications from five Sydney councils, and partially agreed a sixth, to increase general rates above the 2.7 per cent peg. Applications from Burwood, Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Randwick and Sutherland councils were approved in full and will be effective from 1 July 2019 (17 May 2019). More...

Five year housing supply forecast released
Sydney's latest five-year housing supply forecast, released today, anticipates a solid pipeline of construction to support the NSW Government's record investment in transport, infrastructure and public spaces. The forecast is used by NSW government agencies, local councils and others to inform strategic land use and infrastructure planning and service delivery to support new housing development. (16 May 2019). More...

Protecting heritage and character in Kings Cross
The character and significance of one of Sydney's most renowned streets is to be protected following Council approval to heritage list three sites on Darlinghurst Road (14 May 2019). More...

Cockle Bay tower approved despite concerns it will darken city square
An office building will tower over Cockle Bay after an independent panel approved an overhaul of the inner Sydney wharf precinct, despite concerns the high-rise will cast shadows over a future public square in the city centre. The council's opposition is at odds with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, which backed the redevelopment proposed by a consortium (13 May 2019). More...

Sydney's 24-hour trading plan to 'set up the city's future night-life'
City of Sydney councillors unanimously endorsed an overhaul of the plan that determines where and when night-time activity can take place throughout the inner city at a meeting on Monday night (13 May 2019). More...

Victoria

Ombudsman investigating review process for parking infringements issued by Victorian councils
Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass is investigating councils' use of contractors to review parking infringements that people have appealed against (24 May 2019). More...

Help stop e-waste entering landfill
From 1 July 2019, the State Government is banning e-waste from all Victorian landfills. Bass Coast Shire Council is teaming up with Sustainability Victoria to increase the amount of e-waste that goes to recycling centres and is urging residents to get behind a new campaign to reduce the amount of e-waste being sent to landfill (24 May 2019). More...

Waste and resource recovery infrastructure advice
The Victorian Government has requested Infrastructure Victoria to provide advice on the infrastructure required to support changes to the waste industry in Victoria. The advice will cover the infrastructure required, and the role of government to support the re-processing and use of recycled materials, the waste to energy sector and resource recovery of organic waste (23 May 2019). More...

EPA fines compost company for licence breach
Stockpiles of industrial waste stored outside an EPA-licensed facility's boundary near Stanhope have cost composting company Biomix an $8,060 fine from EPA (17 May 2019 ). More...

Proposed vision to revitalise Elizabeth Street
Elizabeth Street would become a safer, greener and more people friendly gateway to Melbourne's retail and commercial heart under a proposal to be considered by City of Melbourne Councillors (16 May 2019). More...

In Practice and Courts

PFAS submissions due 31 May 2019
Local councils are invited to make submissions on version 2 of the draft PFAS National Environmental Management Plan before the end of the month. Version two of the plan includes updates on the soil criteria used in the first version, new guidance on the reuse of soil, and initial guidance on managing PFAS in wastewater, including trade waste. It's possible the written submissions deadline will be extended. More...

Performance Based Standards – An Introduction for Road Managers
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator has released the latest version of Performance Based Standards (PBS) – An Introduction for Road Managers. The guide is intended to provide road managers with a greater understanding of the performance-based standards scheme and to assist them in assessing requests for network access to innovative and safer vehicles.

Productivity Commission: National Transport Regulatory Reform paper
This seeks feedback as it assesses transport reforms since an agreement was reached at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in 2009. National laws and regulations would replace state-specific laws, regulations and regulators and intergovernmental agreements about these were signed in 2011. Submissions close 28 June. More...

Help shape the National Disability Strategy beyond 2020
Australian governments are asking people to help shape the future of Australian disability policy for 2020 and beyond. The first stage of consultation is from April to June 2019. Councils are encouraged to promote engagement in these consultations within their local communities. More...

The 2019 Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayors' Forum
The 2019 Asia Pacific Cities Summit (2019APCS) and Mayors' Forum returns to Brisbane from 7-10 July. For Mayors, city leaders, policy makers, CEOs, urban planners, and other business, industry and emerging leaders.

National General Assembly 2019
This year's National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA), which will be held from 16 to 19 June in Canberra. This assembly will consider what councils can do today to get ready for the challenges, opportunities and changes that lie ahead. More...

National Local Roads and Transport Congress, 18-20 November 2019
This year's theme is 'breaking through for modern transport'. Topics to be covered include the future of transport and how local government can benefit, and an update on the state of the country's infrastructure by Infrastructure Australia CEO, Romily Madew. More...

NSW

EPA: Proposed changes to the regulation of Underground Petroleum Storage Systems (UPSS)
The EPA is consulting on the draft UPSS Regulation 2019 and seeking submissions. Feedback can be provided through the EPA consultation portal until 14 June 2019. The EPA currently regulates the operation of UPSS infrastructure in NSW. However, regulatory responsibility will be transferred to local councils on 1 September 2019. More...

NSW Planning and Environment: Sydney housing supply forecast
The Sydney Housing Supply Forecast provides information on where, when, and how many new homes are likely to be built within the city. Information gathered from local councils and industry is also reflected in the forecast data. The forecast methodology is outlined further in the explanatory notes. (17 May 2019). More...

ICAC Discussion Paper: Enhancing the democratic role of direct lobbying in NSW
The NSW ICAC is seeking public input as part of a new investigation it is conducting into the regulation of lobbying, access and influence in NSW (Operation Eclipse). The discussion paper is appended to an introductory paper, The regulation of lobbying access and influence in NSW: a chance to have your say, which also explains how to make a submission. The closing date for consultation is 24 May 2019. More...

Reminder: Environmental Planning & Assessment Act Updates
Councils, certifiers and other industry practitioners have more time to implement some of the recent EP&A Act updates. Changes affect new provisions for building and subdivision certification, Local Strategic Planning Statements for councils in the Greater Sydney Region and Community Participation Plans.
There will be a number of other changes that will involve further design and consultation from mid to late 2018 outlined here.

Community Participation Plan Updated FAQs
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 has been updated to make community participation central to the planning system. Supporting this objective is a new measure requiring all public authorities that have planning functions under the EP&A Act, including councils, to develop community participation plan (CPP). CPPs must be finalised and published on the ePlanning portal by 1 December 2019. More...

Changes to Housing SEPPs
Seniors Housing State Environmental Planning Policy – the SEPP will not apply in heritage conservation areas in Greater Sydney until 1 July 2020

Queensland

Latest round of Nature Refuge Landholder grants now open
Queensland's Nature Refuge landholders will be able to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to support their invaluable work maintaining nature refuges on their properties. Read the media statement here (24 May 2019). More...

Medicines and poisons
The new framework aims to improve national uniformity, minimise the risk that medicines and poisons could be diverted for unlawful purposes and simplify licensing requirements. Council operations which may be impacted under the change include use of S7 poisons for vertebrate pest control, mosquito management and council vaccination programs. It includes no new or increased fees. Feedback required by 31 May (21 May 2019). More...

Medicines and poisons Consultation
The draft Medicines and Poisons Bill 2019 and associated regulations were introduced into Parliament Thursday 18 May. The purpose of the Bill is to repeal and replace existing legislation with a new regulatory framework comprising the Bill, and the associated draft regulations and their explanatory notes that were tabled at the same time as the Bill. Submission closed on Wednesday 5 June 2019

The Commissioners corner - a guide to conflict of interest issues
A Guide and Meeting Aids to assist councillors to determine when a conflict of interest or material personal interest exists. More information available here. The materials are also available on the website of the Office of the Independent Assessor, which is available here (24 May 2019).
On 1 May 2019, the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced to the Queensland Legislative Assembly.
Should the Bill be passed in due course, these reforms will apply to local governments and candidates for the 2020 local government elections. More information will be made available in due course by the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Election expenditure records will need to be kept from 1 May 2019 by all candidates and groups of candidates for the 2020 local government elections if the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 is passed.

Current Programs
2019–21 Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program (LGGSP)
The 2019–21 Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program (LGGSP) aims to support Local Governments to deliver priority infrastructure and essential services that meet the identified needs of their communities.

2019–21 Works for Queensland Program (W4Q)
As part of the 2019–21 funding round, a further $200 million has been approved for allocations to 65 Councils, with the initial payment of $100 million to be released by 30 June 2019 as part of the early program release to ensure job continuity and thriving communities.
The rest of the $100 million W4Q funding will be released post June 2019 for Council projects to be completed by June 2021 in line with the Funding Deed of Agreement.

Waste Levy legislation
The Queensland Government is developing a new waste management and resource recovery strategy and will be underpinned by the waste levy. The provisions will be added to the existing Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 on commencement on 1 July 2019. The provisions will be added to the existing Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011 on commencement on 1 July 2019. The new levy laws allow eligible organisations to apply for exemptions and discounts from the levy, as well as require other administrative notifications and declarations. More...

Important changes to waste-related ERAs
The Environmental Protection (Waste ERA Framework) Amendment Regulation 2018 introduces a number of changes to waste-related environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) in the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008. One of these changes is the introduction of a new schedule of waste-related ERAs. Existing waste ERAs will be transitioned to the new waste ERAs after July 2019.
NOTE: The department has developed an online tool to assist holders of waste-related ERAs transition to the new schedule of ERAs. Holders of waste-related ERAs will have already received instructions on how to complete the online tool by 31 May 2019.

Waste levy fact sheet
The Queensland waste levy fact sheet is now available to download. The content is an overview of the waste levy information—why we will have one, the zone it will apply to, how the levy will be paid, exemptions, and where to go for more information. More...

Notice inviting comment on draft end of waste code
The Department invites comment on the draft end of waste codes for dunder and w ater treatment residuals. The consultation period closed on 31 May 2019. More...

Note: Safer Buildings: Parts 2 and 3a deadlines extended
Bodies corporate and building owners across Queensland have been given additional time to complete Parts 2 and 3a of the Safer Buildings combustible cladding checklist. The new deadlines will be as follows:
Part 2: extended from 29 May 2019 to 31 July 2019
Part 3a: extended from 27 August 2019 to 31 October 2019. More...

LGAQ: Information sessions - Changes to Queensland's plumbing and drainage laws
Queensland's new plumbing and drainage laws will commence on 1 July 2019, including the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.The Department of Housing and Public Works will be holding information sessions across Queensland during April-June 2019 about the upcoming changes and local government staff are encouraged to attend Information sessions - Changes to Queensland's plumbing and drainage laws.

The Premier's Outback Events Program: Funding rounds 2019
Each application must be for unique submissions and events must be delivered on or before 31 December 2020. The deadline for round one application is 1 April 2019, with applicants notified in May 2019. More...

Cases

Spence v Queensland [2019] HCA 15
Constitutional law (Cth) – Powers of Commonwealth Parliament – Federal elections – Severance –– Where s 302CA provided for displacement of such authority in circumstances including where State or Territory electoral law required gift or part of it to be kept or identified separately to be used only for purpose of State, Territory or local government election – Whether Commonwealth legislative power with respect to federal elections exclusive or concurrent – Whether s 302CA within scope of Commonwealth legislative power with respect to federal elections – Whether possible to sever s 302CA to preserve part of its operation within scope of Commonwealth legislative power.

Constitutional law (Cth) – Inconsistency between Commonwealth and State laws – Gifts to political parties – Where Queensland Parliament passed amendments to Electoral Act 1992 (Qld) and Local Government Electoral Act 2011 (Qld) prohibiting property developers from making gifts to political parties that endorse and promote candidates for election to Legislative Assembly and local government councils – Whether Queensland amendments inconsistent with s 302CA or framework of Pt XX of Commonwealth Electoral Act – Whether s 302CA invalid for infringing principle in University of Wollongong v Metwally (1984) 158 CLR 447; [1984] HCA 74.

NSW

Dickinson Property Group Pty Ltd v Wollondilly Shire Council [2019] NSWLEC 1220
APPEAL – development application – multi-dwelling housing – area characterised by single dwelling housing – whether there is a requirement to respond to existing character – transition to low density residential zone – whether required to respond to heritage items or heritage conservation area located in the vicinity of the site – compliance with the provisions of the development control plan – design – amenity of the dwellings – objectives of the zone

Jasminco Resources Pty Limited v Goulburn Mulwaree Council [2019] NSWLEC 1218
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – quarry – insufficient information to determine owners consent for works on public road – road safety and functionality – removal of restriction of access – noise

Zhiva Living Dural Pty Ltd v Hornsby Shire Council [2019] NSWLEC 1222
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – Seniors living development – whether the proposed development satisfies the provisions of cl 55 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004 – whether a jurisdictional precondition can be cured by the grant of consent with conditions.

Marrickville Development No.3 Pty Ltd v Inner West Council [2019] NSWLEC 1132
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – demolition and construction of two semi-detached, two storey, dwelling houses – Torrens subdivision of one lot into two lots – interpretation of FSR development standard in Marrickville LEP 2011 – whether solar access impacts of proposed development are acceptable – whether impacts on a street tree are acceptable.

Queensland

Lim v Moreton Bay Regional Council (No 2) [2019] QLC 22
PROCEDURE – CIVIL PROCEEDINGS IN STATE AND TERRITORY COURTS – COSTS – whether s 34 of the Land Court Act 2000 or s 27 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 applies – where the Court found in favour of the applicant in the originating proceedings – whether the applicant's conduct has unreasonably and unnecessarily forced the respondent into litigation – whether the applicant presented its case in a way that imposed unnecessary burdens on the respondent or the Court – whether the applicant has pursued a vexatious, dishonest, or grossly exaggerated claim.

Fox v Ipswich City Council [2019] QCAT 131
ADMINISRATIVE REVIEW – ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS – QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL – whether destruction order of a dangerous dog ought to be set aside or confirmed
Animal Management (Cats and Dogs) Act 2008 Qld ss 3, 4, 59, 60, 61, 89, 94, 127; Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 Qld ss 20, 24, 28.

In the making of Cook Shire Council - Indoor Certified Agreement 2018 [2019] QIRC 67
INDUSTRIAL LAW - application for certification of an agreement - requirements for certification - agreement certified.

Legislation

NSW

Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments
Liquor Amendment (Special Licence Conditions) Regulation (No 2) 2019 (2019-204) — published LW 24 May 2019

Queensland

Bills
Criminal Code (Trespass Offences) Amendment Bill 2019
Introduced by: Mr D Last MP on 1/05/2019
Stage reached: Referred to Committee on 1/05/2019
This Bill seeks to protect Queensland businesses from unlawful trespass activities by introducing three new criminal offences. These offences are: aggravated trespass, which enables the prosecution of a person who enters premises, private land or transport infrastructure with the intent to cause economic harm to another person, business or the State; serious criminal trespass, which enables the prosecution of a person who enters premises, private land or transport infrastructure

Electoral Legislation (Political Donations) Amendment Bill 2018
Stage reached: 2nd reading adjourned on 14/05/2019
Part 3 Amendment of Local Government Electoral Act 2011- Amendment of s 106 (Definitions for part )Section 106—insert—political donation- prohibited corporate donor, for division 1A, see section 113A

Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019
Economics and Governance Committee. Report by 21 June 2019. Submissions closed on 21 May
An Act to amend the City of Brisbane Act 2010, the Local Government Act 2009, the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, the Referendums Act 1997 and the Right to Information Act 2009.
The Bill requires all candidates at Local Government elections, including sitting Councillors, to undertake training as a condition of their nomination and mandates full preferential voting for mayoral and single councillor elections, to be effective for the 2020 local government election.

Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019
Economics and Governance Committee. Report by 21 June 2019. Submissions closed on 21 May
Implements recommendations from the Crime and Corruption Commission's Operation Belcarra: A blueprint for integrity and addressing corruption risk in local government and makes operational improvements to the State's electoral system by implementing the Government's response to A review of the conduct of the 2016 local government elections, the referendum and the Toowoomba South by-election (Soorley report).

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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