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

Last Updated: 24 June 2019
Most Read Contributor in Australia, July 2019

In the media

Local governments can boost housing supply and address affordability, a key expert says
Changing planning strategies to build more new homes in sought-after areas of major cities would have a bigger impact on affordability than introducing a national housing strategy, according to Grattan Institute fellow Brendan Coates (05 June 2019). More...

New dams and pipelines 'urgently needed', says local government as NSW water supplies run drastically low
With towns across New South Wales at risk of running out of water within months, there are renewed calls for an urgent upgrade of water storage infrastructure. Linda Scott, president of Local Government NSW said councils need more help from State and Federal Governments to secure water supplies (03 June 2019). More...

Telstra gets bad call from ACMA
Chair of ACMA, Nerida O'Loughlin said the rules, outlined in the Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Industry Code, were designed to make sure telcos provided local councils and communities with an opportunity to have their say before setting up mobile phone infrastructure (30 May 2019). More...

Local Government Super commits to net zero emissions
Local Government Super is taking its portfolio to net zero operating carbon emissions by 2030 and pushing for all building stock to be net zero by 2050 (28 May 2019). More...


Amalgamated councils win time to harmonise rates
Introducing amendments to the Local Government Act into parliament on June 4, Ms Hancock said councils would have more time to consult with communities over changes to rates arising from the harmonisation process with an extension until after the 2020 local government elections (07 June 2019). More...

Smart city strategies pay off for Newcastle, Prospect
Newcastle and Prospect councils have been crowned the nation's top smart metropolitan cities (03 June 2019). More...


If it's voluntary for developers to make affordable housing deals with councils, what can you expect
In contrast, the state of Victoria has very few regulations that encourage or enforce affordable housing or other community benefits in return for development permissions. Victoria's plan for negotiations Local councils can now ask for affordable housing as part of planning approval processes (07 June 2019). More...

Melbourne population boom outstrips transport
Melbourne's public transport services have failed to keep up with booming population growth, according to an analysis of two decades of state government data, with public transport service levels which have plummeted since 2012 (06 June 2019). More...

Plan to link and protect Melbourne's urban forests
A bold new plan to improve the connectivity and extent of greater Melbourne's urban forests has been launched to mark World Environment Day 2019. Living Melbourne has been formally endorsed by 41 organisations, including the City of Melbourne (05 June 2019). More...

Supporting regional and rural councils
Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek tabled the Labor Government's response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Sustainability and Operational Challenges of Victoria's Rural and Regional Councils and provided an update on the inquiry into the rating system (04 June 2019). More... More...

Strengthening Victoria's recycling industry
The Andrews Labor Government is tackling the challenges facing the recycling industry and helping to reduce plastic pollution with a new $34.9 million package of recycling reforms. The package will provide support to Victorian councils when it comes to negotiating new contracts for recycling services (02 June 2019). More...

Big infrastructure spend fails to deliver for our recycling system
Cr Coral Ross, MAV President said while councils and communities will be rightfully disappointed about the State's under investment in recycling, they will welcome the significant spend on transport systems and a new State-funded three-year-old kindergarten program (27 May 2019). More...

Vic budget's $3m to fight council corruption
The Victorian Government has handed the state's council integrity watchdog more than $3 million dollars as it deals with a growing number of complaints. The Local Government Inspectorate has experienced an 11 per cent spike in complaints (27 May 2019). More...

In Practice and Courts

ALGA: National Local Government Cultural Forum – Final report
While the diversity of cultural, social, economic and environmental factors makes it hard to conceive of local government cultural development as a 'sector', all art and cultural activity delivered by councils, carry similar intentions and challenges (04 June 2019). More...

ALGA: New briefing documents on street lighting systems
The IPWEA has released a series of short briefs about the latest changes in street lighting systems for councils, road authorities and other decision-makers. The documents, which are downloadable here, are in addition to the Model Business Case for Street Lighting and Smart Controls Upgrades the IPWEA released recently (07 June 2019). More...

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 (2019 APCS) 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 has been held in Canberra this month. This assembly considered what councils can do 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...


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 here until 14 June 2019. The regulatory responsibility will be transferred to local councils on 1 September 2019. More...

IPART: NSW valuer general's final prices for valuation services to councils
IPART has released its final decision on the maximum prices that the Valuer General can charge NSW councils for land valuation services over the next six years from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2025 (28 May 2019). More...

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...

Current LEP Proposals from 31 May 2019
Amendment to SEPP (Sydney Region Growth Centres) 2006 - Reclassification of 15Z Nelson Road, Box Hill


LGAQ: Resource recovery roadmap and action plan - have your say
The draft Queensland Resource Recovery Industries 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan has been released for public consultation. Please provide comment to the LGAQ submission by Monday, 10th June 2019. More...

Draft North West Queensland economic diversification strategy: Consultation
The draft outlines a number of diversification initiatives to create jobs across the key economic drivers of resources, agriculture, tourism, and broader business and industry. Consultation closes Friday 26 July (30 May 2019). More...

Local Government Bulletins 2019
02/19 Increase in the value of a penalty unit
The purpose of this bulletin is to inform local governments that:
the value of a penalty unit for most offences under state legislation will increase to $133.45 effective from 1 July 2019, and the value of a local law penalty unit for most local governments will also increase to $133.45 effective from 1 July 2019.

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 (24 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. Submissions closed on 5 June 2019.

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.

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. More...



MidCoast Council Water Services Agreement 2019 [2019] NSWIRComm 1034
Industrial dispute – collaborative employee relations – enterprise agreement - agreement approved

Trustees of the Marist Fathers for the Province of Australia v Hunters Hill Council [2019] NSWLEC 1255
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION–Subdivision of St Peter Chanel Church land – whether the site is suitable for the proposed development – assessment of visual impact - whether the development has an adverse heritage impact – appeal dismissed

Architecture Design Studio Pty Ltd v Fairfield City Council [2019] NSWLEC 1253
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – place of public worship (mosque) and community centre – uses currently operating – parking availability – proportion of parking that should be on-site and on-street – objections based on impact of parking on nearby businesses and in street – proposed cap on numbers – DCP interpretation to determine required parking rate – plan of management

RebelMH Neutral Bay Pty Limited v North Sydney Council [2019] NSWCA 130
APPEAL – appeal against Land and Environment Court judge's decision to refuse development application – proposed development contravened height development standard – judge not satisfied cl 4.6 request justified contravention – judge not satisfied development consistent with objectives of standard – whether misdirection as to cl 4.6 and objectives of standard – whether denial of procedural fairness by not giving amber light approach

Vella v Penrith City Council [2019] NSWLEC 1247
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – 45 place child care centre – adequacy of outdoor play space for child development – noise impact

ZTA Group Pty Ltd v Canterbury-Bankstown Council [2019] NSWLEC 1248
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – Torrens title subdivision – attached dual occupancy dwellings – minimum lot size - front building line width – cl 4.6 variation request –amenity – solar access building orientation

Boensch v City of Parramatta Council [2019] NSWLEC 1249
INTERLOCUTORY APPLICATION – application to set aside a Notice to Produce to the Court – relevance – whether legitimate forensic purpose – whether documents sought will materially assist in the identified issue – Notice to Produce unacceptably broad – only some documents would assist

Blacktown City Council v Nitopi [2019] NSWLEC 40
CONTEMPT - operate waste or resource transfer station without development consent - Class 4 proceedings commenced by Council to restrain unlawful use - consent orders to resolve proceedings - undertaking to remove at least half of the 2,600 cubic metres of waste on the site by 31 December 2017 - no waste removed by that date - no waste removed by 31 March 2018 when second undertaking subsumed the effect of the undertaking to remove half the waste - serious criminal activity directed at the Respondent - impact on Respondent significant ameliorating factor - perpetrators arrested in early February 2018 - no reasonable excuse after that time for failure to remove waste - Respondent pleaded guilty but not at the earliest occasion - consideration of the Respondent's subjective circumstances - fine appropriate for breach of first undertaking - Respondent fined $5,400 CONTEMPT - operate waste or resource transfer station without development consent - Class 4 proceedings commenced by Council to restrain unlawful use - consent orders to resolve proceedings - undertaking to remove all of the waste from the site by 31 March 2018 - no waste removed by that date - Respondent relocated to Queensland - relocation said by Respondent to be on the advice of the New South Wales Police - evidence from nominated police officer that no such advice was given - Respondent continued to run a range of business interests while relocated in Queensland - Respondent visited Sydney during period of relocation - no steps taken to commence waste removal process until after commencement of contempt proceedings - waste removal processors supervised by the Respondent personally in order to minimise costs of removal - removal staged to avoid transport of wet material - substantial additional cost savings achieved - during period of waste removal activities, Respondent travelled overseas on business - consideration of Respondent's subjective circumstances - plea of guilty but not on the earliest occasion - serious, wilful contempt by breach of undertaking to remove the entirety of the waste by 31 March 2018 - specific deterrence needed under the circumstances in addition to general deterrence - substantial fine warranted - Respondent find $72,000 COSTS - Applicant seeks costs on indemnity basis - Respondent proposes that costs should be on an ordinary basis - Applicant public authority seeking to enforce the planning law - Respondent's contempt serious and wilful - customary position that, in such circumstances, Applicant would be awarded costs on the indemnity basis - no valid reason to depart from that position - Respondent ordered to pay the Applicant's costs on the indemnity basis.

SHH Ltd v City of Parramatta Council; SHH Ltd v City of Parramatta Council [2019] NSWCATAP 131
LEASES AND TENANCIES – retail and commercial tenancies legislation - licence by second respondent to first respondent of land for temporary purposes – first respondent entering into sub-licence with appellant – head licence terminated – notice given to terminate sub-licence – appellant claiming to have rights to remain in occupation - appellant alleging that the sub-licence did not contain all the relevant provisions – no evidence to support contention – whether mediation was required – whether dispute resolution process was required before orders for termination of sub-licence could be made – appellant claiming that the sub-licence constituted a retail shop lease under the Retail Leases Act – sub-licence capable of comprising a retail shop lease as defined – permitted use under sub-licence did not constitute a use contained in Schedule 1 of the Retail Leases Act – termination of sub-licence valid.

Jacobs v Waverley Council [2019] NSWLEC 1232
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – secondary dwelling – affordable rental accommodation – FSR breach – whether sufficient environmental planning grounds for contravention of development standard – whether and to what extent context compatibility an environmental planning ground

Visionary Investment Group Pty Ltd v Wollongong City Council [2019] NSWLEC 1234
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – subdivision – community title – owner's consent – golf course – contamination – streambank stabilisation – availability of water and wastewater infrastructure – assessment of off-site impacts – Grampian condition


Geldard v Western Downs Regional Council (No. 2) [2019] QLC 24
PROCEDURE – CIVIL PROCEEDINGS IN STATE AND TERRITORY – DISCOVERY AND INTERROGATORIES – DISCOVERY AND INSPECTION OF DOCUMENTS – PRODUCTION AND INSPECTION OF DOCUMENTS – GENERAL MATTERS – GENERAL PRINCIPLES – where land owner appeals against decision of local authority on the land owners objection to a rating category for the land – where the appellant sought disclosure of documents relating to the reclassification of a neighbour property – where the appellant sought disclosure of documents relating to the respondent council's decision making process for the subject property
Local Government Regulation 2012 Qld s 93
Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 1999 Qld r 211

Kelsey v Logan City Council & Ors (No.7) [2019] QIRC 85
INDUSTRIAL LAW – PUBLIC INTEREST DISCLOSURE – PROCEDURE – COMMISSION PROCEDURE – PRACTICE UNDER TRIBUNAL RULES – STAYING PROCEEDINGS – where Second to Ninth Respondents have been criminally charged – where criminal proceedings not yet determined – whether commission proceedings should be stayed until disposal of criminal proceedings determined

In the making of the Rockhampton Regional Council External Employees Certified Agreement 2018 [2019] QIRC 77
INDUSTRIAL LAW – COLLECTIVE BARGAINING – Application for certification of an agreement – Requirements for certification – Agreement certified



Bills introduced

Government – 04 June 2019
Local Government Amendment Bill 2019
An Act to amend the Local Government Act 1993 with respect to rates, tendering requirements, election planning, mutual recognition of approvals and other regulatory matters; and for other purposes. The bill also removes some limits on local government procurement and allows more opportunities for councils to share regulatory services and staff across borders

Non-Government – 07 June 2019
Crown Land Management Amendment (Reservation and Vesting of Crown Land) Bill 2019

Environmental Planning Instruments
State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) Amendment (Water and Emergency Services Facilities) 2019 (2019-224) — published LW 31 May 2019

State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) Amendment (Inland Rail—Narrabri to North Star Project) 2019 (2019-225) — published LW 31 May 2019


Bills Progress

Electoral Legislation (Political Donations) Amendment Bill 2018
Stage reached: 2nd reading adjourned on 14/05/2019 Status: Resumption of second reading debate 11 June 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
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
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).

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