Archived News for Professionals in Local Government - February, 2012
Twenty Victorian councils have recorded savings in electricity and gas costs as a result of a four-year agreement that locked in highly competitive prices.
Cr Bill McArthur, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said that joint tenders conducted in 2011 provided participating councils with electricity cost savings for their buildings, public lighting and green energy, as well as gas savings for facilities.
“Large council buildings and facilities saved around 20 per cent on electricity costs during the first year, while public lighting achieved savings of 22 per cent, and smaller tariff sites had cost savings of 34 per cent.
David Keenan has been appointed General Manager of Tweed Shire Council, and will take up the position on April 30, following the retirement of the current General Manager, Mike Rayner, on April 27.
Mr Keenan, 46, is currently Chief Executive Officer of Mitchell Shire Council, located on the northern outskirts of Melbourne in Victoria.
Before that, Mr Keenan spent four years as Director City Sustainable Development at neighbouring Hume Shire Council. In this role, he was responsible for areas including strategic planning, statutory town planning, economic development, environment and urban development.
Mr Keenan has a Masters degree from the University of Melbourne, a Masters in Business Administration from Victoria University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Planning and the Environment from RMIT, as well as a number of other qualifications.
He is the former inaugural chair of Economic Development Australia, as well as a long-term Board member of Environs Australia. Most recently, Mr Keenan was appointed as part of a six-person Ministerial Advisory Committee to review the Victorian Planning System and has also been involved with a number of not-for-profit organisations.
The New South Wales Minister for Local Government Don Page has outlined how the state’s councils will benefit from the new Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme.
Councils in western NSW have united in their concern over the state of regional and local roads and roads funding at the Annual Conference of the Western Division Councils of NSW in Broken Hill, raising it with various Ministers and calling for continued action.
The NSW Government has released a discussion paper as part of the process to develop the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan that will address key transport challenges that face the State over the next 20 years.
Submissions to the NSW Government’s issues paper on the NSW Planning System Review, entitled, The way ahead for planning in NSW?, are due by 2 March.
Playford City Council has announced an overhaul of its management structure and the appointment of four new general managers under CEO Tim Jackson, following a review of the council’s operations by Price Waterhouse Coopers.
The CEO of Yarra City Council Dr Andi Diamond has stepped down four months after signing a new five-year contract having been appointed chief executive at Monash City Council.
The Western Australian Acting Planning Minister Troy Buswell has released a draft revised policy and new guidelines for public consultation following a full review of the State Coastal Planning Policy.
Mayor Lee Watts said that while it was good that the state government is reviewing the impact of mining on local communities, the report was very narrow in its definition of mining affected communities.
The Local Government Association of Queensland has criticised the Queensland Government’s move to exclude councils from the planning and approval process for new buildings or building extensions in schools and hospitals, claiming that it risks “opening the floodgates to unregulated development – and that may cost ratepayers millions of dollars to fix”.
LGAQ chief executive Greg Hallam said the decision, passed just before the Government went into caretaker mode, cuts communities out of the decision making process.
“Worse, it risks leaving those same communities reliant on inadequate water, sewerage, road and transport infrastructure,” said Mr Hallam.
“These changes allow for large developments to occur on prominent sites in our communities without any regard for the impact on surrounding residents and businesses or the road, water and other infrastructure needed to support them,’’ Mr Hallam said.
“The Government is promoting this as a move to cut red tape but in truth it is about disregarding community input into development decisions.’’
Mr Hallam said the move was further demonstration that the Government was all about fast tracking policy to the detriment of proper planning principles.
He warned the change would give schools a blank cheque to build what they wanted with no obligation to consult neighbouring property owners who were likely to wear the cost in the long run.
“It displays an appalling lack of regard for community consultation and a willingness to lump councils and their communities with the burden of working out what such developments mean for future council finances,’’ he said.
“It is worth noting, too, that this move was made at the very last minute before caretaker provisions came into force.
“What is the Government’s real motive here?
“The LGAQ will continue to lobby the incoming government, following the 24 March state election, to scrap this decision and allow local communities more influence over the shape and scale of development on school and hospital grounds, so that the full implications of such decisions are better understood.’’
The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW have highlighted the improved performance of councils in assessing difficult and disputed development applications on local planning issues across the State.
The Tasmanian Government has announced the release of the Tasmanian Local Government Asset Management Policy, aimed at assisting the state’s councils in their management of $8 billion worth of assets.
A $165,000 project initiated by South Australia's Local Government Association is designed to provide on-the-ground information from Councils via smart phones to key State Emergency Agencies in emergency situations.
The Victorian Government has committed $1 million to tackle the backlog of planning cases before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the funding would enable approximately 800 cases to be finalised and reduce the waiting list by up to six months.
“This funding will significantly reduce delays in the planning process and ease the burden on the development sector, local councils and the community as a whole.
“For those applications where projects are approved by VCAT, the result will be a boost for jobs and the construction industry at precisely the time we are looking for continued economic activity here in Victoria,” Mr Guy said.
“Furthermore, a number of these outstanding cases directly affect Victorian families who have applications for dwellings and extensions in limbo. This funding will remove much of the stress and angst for these families, not to mention cost arising from delay and uncertainty.”
There have been big increases in the number of cases being lodged at VCAT in recent years. In 2010-11 alone VCAT received 3,775 cases, a 13 per cent increase from 2009-10, and a total value in excess of $7 billion.
In the first six months of 2011-12 there has been a nine per cent increase in the number of cases.
As a result, there are currently 1,824 cases pending worth approximately $3 billion dollars, while 197 cases which are ready to be heard face an eight month delay.
“Eighty per cent of cases currently on the Planning and Environment List have been waiting at least six months to be heard, and without today’s initiative were likely to wait a further six months before a hearing date was confirmed,” Mr Guy said.
The initiative follows the Government’s reinstatement of the Major Cases List at VCAT. As part of the reform, Mr Guy will establish a working group comprising members of VCAT and departmental officers to review long term funding options and other possible reforms.
The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) today released a new Practice Note on Long Term Financial Planning. The Practice Note was prepared by the Institute for Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA), with funding from the Commonwealth Government's Local Government Reform Fund. It is designed to improve the financial performance of local government by assisting local councils to prepare better long‐term plans.
IPWEA President Paul Di Iulio explains: “Most infrastructure assets are long lived. They require increasing maintenance as they age and eventually need renewal. It is essential that we plan for this investment with effective long‐term financial planning.”
Local Government Minister Simon Crean welcomed the release of the Practice Note.
The City of Perth has completed an study of the needs of the its ageing population, in preparation for a 15-20% increase in the number of people aged over 60 in the next two decades.
A report on the future of SA's regional airports has found they face considerable long-term challenges from changing industry and economic factors.
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services Andrew Stoner has announced the appointment of Steve Toms as the State’s first Cross Border Commissioner.