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Inside track: Local Government

13 August 2019

#Local Government

Inside track: Local Government

Biometric scanning in the workplace: Can local government employees refuse consent?

Technology enabling facial, fingerprint and iris scans offers employers an efficient and accurate means to secure their workplaces, monitor and record their employees’ time and attendance.

Councils are among the workplaces to now utilise this technology, with many more keen to start jumping on board.

Yet there are serious privacy concerns when it comes to biometric technology.

Once you collect the data it is vulnerable to be misused or hacked. You can change passwords, but you can’t change your fingerprint or iris scan.

There are also broader privacy considerations. Privacy is an important human right that is fundamental to a person’s autonomy and dignity.

In the context of the workplace, employee privacy needs to be balanced against the competing interests of employers in seeking the most commercially efficient ways of running their businesses.

Read more about privacy law in this context, as well as key lessons from a recent case and lessons for employers, in our longer form article here

While local government is subject to State based privacy Acts, this case considered the Federal Act. Each of the State Acts has similar rules around consent and use for lawful purposes. Accordingly similar issues arise.

Author: Charles Power

In the media

ALGA: Cities housing research projects
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute will take a closer look at cities, including local government coordination, as part of its new Cities Research Agenda. The Local Government Co-ordination: Metropolitan Governance in Twenty-first Century Australia project will “investigate the experiences of local government in cooperative models of Australian metropolitan governance, and provide recommendations for policy and the development (02 August 2019).  More...

Murray Darling to get water theft sheriff
Former federal police commissioner Mick Keelty has been backed as Inspector-General to oversee the Murray Darling Basin as part of a government bid to crack down on water theft and other water use breaches (01 August 2019).  More...

How councils are future-proofing themselves against shrinking regional media
Locals and journalists are the two main casualties that come up in conversations around regional media closures, but what about the councils which rely on local titles to get their messages out into the community (01 August 2019).  More...

Government weighs new green procurement targets
The federal Government is planning new green procurement targets for all levels of government. The proposed shake-up, which would require local and state governments to purchase a portion of recycled materials in public works, has been welcomed by councils and the waste management sector (01 August 2019).   More...

The ‘tiny house’ villages tackling homelessness
From pop-up ‘tiny houses’ to co-donations, local governments are taking action to combat homelessness as the number of people sleeping rough across capital cities continues to mount (29 July 2019).  More...

Councils call out transport funding shortfall
Australian councils have used an ongoing inquiry to call on the government to fork out funding to help them build a future-fit transport network. A submission last week to an ongoing Productivity Commission inquiry asks for the roll-out of a new plan alongside a five-year $1 billion investment to help councils plug the costs of a makeover to the national transport network (24 July 2019.  More...

New CTH Bill to create offences for activists who incite trespass, damage, or theft against farmers
The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 (CTH) was introduced to the House of Representatives by Attorney-General, Christian Porter. The Bill aims to deter individuals from sharing personal information of farmers to incite offences against them. Under the Bill, it would be illegal for groups and individuals to promote such events online on any carriage service (23 July 2019).  More...

Victoria

New apartment design standards to improve neighbourhoods
The focus has now broadened to look at the standards for building exteriors, to ensure that apartment buildings are attractive, fit in with their neighbourhood. Feedback has been sought on the performance of the current apartment design standards, including one-on-one conversations with industry peak bodies and local government (02 August 2019).  More...

Better approvals coming to more councils near you
Faster permits are on track to be the norm for Victorian businesses with more than half of all councils engaged in the Andrews Labor Government’s Better Approvals Project cutting business permit processing times. Minister for Small Business Adem Somyurek has today written to the 37 councils who are not part of the red tape slashing program and encouraged them to take part (30 July 2019).  More...

Victorians have their say on local councils
Nearly 27,000 Victorian residents and ratepayers have had their say on their local councils as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s Community Satisfaction Survey. The survey reveals that the most valued council services were waste management, emergency and disaster management and elderly support services (29 July 2019).  More...

Recycling crisis escalates as major council contractor suddenly stops collecting
Recyclables from dozens of Victorian councils now look destined to go straight to landfill, as a major recycling company announces it will no longer take their waste, effective immediately (26 July 2019).  More...

Community members unhappy as heritage-listed Benalla migrant huts to be given away by council
Benalla Council is set to give away five of nine huts at the historic Benalla Migrant Camp in Victoria to the organisations that currently occupy them. The council says the occupants, who have been there for over 20 years, have a legal claim to the buildings, regardless of their heritage-listed status (24 July 2019).  More...

Administrators appointed to South Gippsland Shire
The Andrews Labor Government has appointed a panel of three administrators to run the South Gippsland Shire Council, which was dismissed in June. The panel will act as the Council effective from 24 July 2019 until the next election for the council in 2021 (23 July 2019).  More...

NSW

LGNSW welcomes long-awaited appointment of NSW Building Commissioner
The NSW Government’s appointment of David Chandler OAM as NSW Building Commissioner was welcomed by the local government sector (02 August 2019).  More...

Council Infrastructure loans surpass half a billion dollars
More than half a billion dollars in low interest loans have been granted to local councils across the State helping them fund vital infrastructure projects and programs for local communities (30 July 2019).  More...

Sydney residents refuse to be 'guinea pigs' for storage of radioactive waste
Residents fear their lives will be made even worse and they will be trapped in unsaleable homes if radioactive waste from a former refinery is stored in their street on Sydney's lower north shore (24 July 2019).  More...

Queensland

Queensland council's 'good news' website criticised as 'propaganda masquerading as news'
A regional Queensland council website being advertised as an online news outlet and accepted by Microsoft as a news source is an abuse of public trust, academics say (01 August 2019).  More...

Funding available for councils to cut illegal dumping
The Palaszczuk Government is serious about cracking down on illegal dumping and littering and has provided $400,000 to four councils as part of a pilot partnership program to combat this issue (31 July 2019).  More...

A debt owed by a club linked to the GC mayor’s business partner might never be paid
A club linked to a long-term business partner of the Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate may escape paying a $137,000 debt owed to the council (29 July 2019).  More...

Council data fosters active communities
A Queensland council has been able to win funding, improve community education and define planning and program strategies by partnering with a university on a study into sport, recreation and activity among local residents (29 July 2019).  More...

Casinos keep 24-hour trading, exempt from ID scanners to help make Brisbane 'new world city'
Despite warnings it could undermine the impact of the Queensland Government's policy to curb alcohol-fuelled violence, casinos will remain exempt from ID scanning and reduced hours. The move comes as the Government scales back the scheme in parts of Brisbane and Ipswich (26 July 2019).  More...

Former Ipswich mayor sentenced to two years in jail for extortion
Phone recordings of Paul Pisasale used as evidence in his extortion trial have been released by a Brisbane court, as the former Ipswich mayor begins his jail term after being sentenced (25 July 2019).  More...

$70 million up for grabs for job-creating regional infrastructure projects
The Palaszczuk Government’s successful $365 million Building our Region’s (BoR) program has entered its next phase, with details of the $70 million Round 5 revealed. Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Cameron Dick said regional Queensland councils will have until 30 August to submit expressions of interest for shovel-ready projects (25 July 2019).  More...

In Practice and Courts

Migration Toolkit
The Regional Australia Institute has developed a migration toolkit to assist rural and regional communities looking to settle migrants, both from Australian cities and overseas (including entrants to Australia on skilled working visas or on humanitarian grounds). The toolkit is based on interviews with community champions of regional settlement and identifies best practice for settlement success. Download the toolkit from the Regional Australia Institute website (01 August 2019). 

Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 [Provisions]
The bill would amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 to introduce two new offences relating to the use of a carriage service to incite trespass, property offences, or other offences on agricultural land. On 4 July 2019 the Senate referred the provisions of the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry. The deadline for submission to the inquiry was 31 July 2019.  More...

Model Work Health and Safety laws
Safe Work Australia is inviting councils to comment on the recommendations of the  2018 Review of the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.  The Consultation RIS was prepared in accordance with the Council of Australian Governments’ Best Practice Regulation: A guide for ministerial councils and national standard setting bodies. Comments closed on 05 August 2019. For more information visit the Safe Work Australia website.

National Heavy Vehicle Law review issues paper 3
The NTC has published information outlining its approach to the current review of National Heavy Vehicle Law (NHVL). The NTC is inviting stakeholders to provide feedback between February 2019 and February 2020. The third issues paper – Easy Access to Suitable Routes - has now been published, focusing on making access for heavy vehicles to local road networks easier. Feedback on this paper closes on 16 August 2019. 

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

Cladding over Asbestos-Containing materials
SafeWork NSW have released a position paper that encourages all local communities to ensure asbestos is safely removed by a licensed removalist before new cladding is installed. This position paper relates to a trend in the residential sector where asbestos cement sheeting is clad with new, non-asbestos products (01 August 2019).  More...

Building reform
LGNSW has made a submission to the NSW Government’s Building Stronger Foundations discussion paper on proposed building reforms. The paper addresses the government’s response to two recent reviews – a national report in 2018 and an independent review in 2015 LGNSW’s submission argues the latest discussion paper only targets part of the problem and does not address issues with the building sector in a comprehensive way. (01 August 2019).  More...

New ICAC public inquiry into lobbying to start 5 August
The ICAC has held a public inquiry which commenced on 5 August 2019 as part of a new investigation it is conducting into the regulation of lobbying, access and influence in NSW (Operation Eclipse).  More...

The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code has been deferred to allow for an independent review
The existing one-year deferral of the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code in 49 council areas is due to expire on 1 July 2019. The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) has been amended to extend this deferral for 45 councils for a further short period, until 31 October 2019, to allow for an independent review to be undertaken of the Code.  More...

New dates for 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.
CPPs must be finalised and published on the ePlanning portal by 1 December 2019

Professional indemnity insurance rules amended for certifiers
The NSW Government has amended the Building Professionals Regulation 2007 to allow the Building Professionals Board to accept professional indemnity insurance policies with conditions or exclusions.  More...

Queensland

CCC current investigations
Further charges in Palm Island council investigation - 25 July 2019
A 47-year-old man has been charged by the CCC with fraud offences as a result of an ongoing corruption investigation into Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council.

CCC 07.2019: Council records: a guideline for mayors, councillors, CEOs and government employees
This joint corruption prevention advisory from the Crime and Corruption Commission and Queensland State Archives sets out the requirements for the management of council records.  More...

LGAQ: Have your say: Model Code for Neighbourhood Design and proposed mandatory provisions
The consultation paper proposes that a range of components from the new Model Code be made mandatory for all new residential developments in Queensland. Please provide your thoughts on this before 26 August 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...

Cases

NSW

Dubow v Mid-Western Regional Council [2019] NSWCATAD 142
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – particular administrative bodies – NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal – administrative review jurisdiction – no jurisdiction to administrative review abatement under s125 of the Local Government Act 1993 – no jurisdiction to administratively review impounding of stock under s 116(3) of the Local Land Services Act 2013.

Captive Vision Pty Ltd v Ku-ring-gai Council (No 2) [2019] NSWLEC 109
CIVIL PROCEDURE: application for the determination of a separate question – whether delay in the making of the application – Class 1 appeal to be heard imminently – separate question comprised gravamen of Class 1 appeal – no utility in determining separate question – no evidence of savings in time or costs if question determined separately – application refused – not fair or reasonable to make costs order.

Hansimikali v Bayside Council [2019] NSWLEC 1353
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – mixed-use development – exceedance of the height of buildings development standard – whether the proposal is consistent with the desired future character of the locality – amenity of the adjoining low density residential dwellings

Sydney Tools Pty Ltd v Canterbury-Bankstown Council [2019] NSWLEC 1358
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – light industrial land use zone – current use not subject of consent – hardware and building supplies store – warehouse and distribution centre – traffic and access – noise.

Vujicic v Northern Beaches Council [2019] NSWLEC 1349
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION – boarding house – consent orders – character – owners consent – easement – amenity

Cavanagh v Wollondilly Shire Council [2019] NSWLEC 105
CIVIL PROCEDURE – application for the determination of a separate question of law – question if resolved in favour of the council is entirely dispositive of the proceedings – delay in applying for the separate question – proceedings set down for two day hearing – substantial savings in terms of experts’ costs and legal fees if separate question resolved in favour of council – application granted.

Canterbury-Bankstown Council v Sydney Tools Pty Ltd [2019] NSWLEC 103
CIVIL ENFORCEMENT – two premises used for warehousing and distribution – alleged breaches of conditions of historic development consents – construction of conditions of consent – concessions and admissions made by Respondents – rectification of past breaches – declaratory and injunctive relief declined, through lack of utility – respondents ordered to pay Council’s costs of proceedings.

Queensland

In the making of the Charters Towers Regional Council Union Collective Certified Agreement 2019 [2019] QIRC 110
INDUSTRIAL LAW – COLLECTIVE BARGAINING – application for certification of an agreement – requirements for certification – agreement certified

Legislation

Commonwealth

Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019
House of Representatives Third reading agreed to 01 Aug 2019
Amends the Criminal Code Act 1995 to introduce two new offences in relation to the incitement of trespass or property offences on agricultural land. The Bill contains exemptions for journalists and those who are making lawful disclosures of information, including whistleblowers

NSW

Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments
Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code Amendment (Monaro and Werriwa Grassy Woodland Critically Endangered Ecological Communities) 2019 (2019-361) — published LW 2 August 2019
Local Land Services Amendment (Critically Endangered Ecological Communities) Regulation 2019 (2019-362) — published LW 2 August 2019
Water Management (General) Amendment (Exemption) Regulation 2019 (2019-367) — published LW 2 August 2019
Biosecurity Amendment (Biosecurity Management Plans) Regulation 2019 (2019-354) — published LW 26 July 2019

Queensland

Subordinate legislation as made – 02 August 2019
No143 State Development and Public Works Organisation (State Development Areas) Regulation 2019

Disclaimer
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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