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Inside track: Local Government

14 July 2021

#Local Government

Published by:

Scott Schlink

Inside track: Local Government

Road to net-zero by 2035: Energy targets in Sydney’s new developments

As part of the City of Sydney’s plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, an Australia-first plan to include energy targets in development applications has been introduced. The plan will support Sydney’s transition to net-zero emissions by ensuring new buildings are more energy-efficient and incorporate a greater reliance on renewables.

According to Lord Mayor Clover Moore, emissions from offices, hotels and apartment buildings contribute to over 60 per cent of the City of Sydney’s total emissions. As such, the plan will require development applications for new office buildings, hotels, shopping centres and major refurbishments to comply with minimum energy ratings from January 2023.

In addition, the plan requires buildings to meet minimum energy targets by improving energy efficiencies and using either on-site or off-site renewable energy. It is predicted that the plan will save investors, businesses and occupants over $1.3 billion on energy bills from 2023 to 2050.

The inclusion of an option to use off-site renewable energy reflects a growing trend in Australia for corporates to enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy. As of December last year, a record number of PPAs had been entered into, with businesses and governments purchasing over 1GW of renewable energy in 2020 alone. The proposed planning regime changes would also promote the development of embedded energy networks involving on-site renewable energy generation and are consistent with the increasing emphasis by both government and the private sector on environmental and social outcomes.

The City of Sydney’s plan will provide a clear avenue for developers to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, supporting their transition to net-zero developments. According to the City of Sydney, the plans were created with support from developers and industry bodies, with many developers having already introduced their own net-zero targets.

The plans are consistent with the NSW Electricity Strategy and the Greater Sydney Region’s planning objective of a “low carbon city” and are ahead of emissions targets set more broadly for NSW and by the Commonwealth Government. Other local councils will likely adopt similar plans, informed by the City of Sydney’s performance standards and evidence base, to achieve their emissions and sustainability targets.

On 17 May 2021, Council unanimously supported the planning proposal being submitted to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, with a public consultation to follow the grant of Gateway Determination.

Authors: David Harley, Thomas Kwok & Scott Schlink

In the media

Commonwealth

Include LG in growth management and planning: Treasury
Local government needs to be involved in decision-making about services, infrastructure, and population growth management, the Federal Treasury says. The 2021 Intergenerational Report released by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg points to a decline in Australia’s population growth triggered by COVID-19 border closures, but projects the population will continue growing faster than most other developed countries. View the 2021 Intergenerational Report (02 July 2021).  More...

Plastics to landfill warning as export ban comes into force
Industry players say insufficient capacity to deal with extra recyclable plastics generated by a halt in exports may lead to more plastics being landfilled. As of 1 July, mixed plastic can no longer be sent overseas for processing. Plastic waste sorted into single resin or polymer types can continue being exported, but it too will be banned in 12 months’ time (01 July 2021).  More...

Digital transformation top priority for local government CEOs
Local government leaders from across Australia are most concerned about digital transformation and the wellbeing of their communities in a post-COVID environment. The Australian Local Government CEO Index 2021, has presented the priorities of 110 council leaders from regional and metropolitan locations. Via the Australian Local Government CEO Index 2021 (01 July 2021).  More...

Car park grants program ‘inappropriate’
A report by the national audit office has slammed the government’s administration of a grants program to fund car parks near public transport, which it found heavily favoured coalition seats (30 June 2021).  More...

Big data not being harnessed to improve infrastructure planning
Unlike critical infrastructure like electricity and sewerage, there's often a lag between population growth and social infrastructure. Australia is failing to leverage the benefits of big data to plan and deliver schools, hospitals and recreational facilities in growing urban areas, according to a new report. View the new housing supply, population growth and access to social infrastructure (28 June 2021).  More...

City councils "a secret weapon to achieve net zero emissions"
Research showing emissions reduction plans by 60 local governments will achieve 96 percent of the current national target was highlighted. They said the collective commitments of councils planning and implementing large emission reductions in their cities will lead to emission reductions of 88 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. View the state of play: Local governments and city networks accelerating climate action in Australia, prepared by Victorian consultancy firm Ironbark Sustainability for the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (25 June 2021).  More...

Victoria

Council officially switches over to 100% renewables for electricity
Mildura Rural City Council made an important step towards its goal of achieving zero net carbon emissions by officially switching over to electricity generated by 100% renewables. The Council was among 46 municipalities to sign on to the VECO in May this year, which is the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia (02 July 2021).  More...

Helping regional communities recover from storms
The Council Support Fund will ensure these councils have the recovery staff and expertise they need on the ground, helping them stand up dedicated local teams to coordinate and drive recovery efforts. The Fund is designed to boost recovery capabilities within councils so activities like impact assessment and community engagement can be undertaken by community members who live in and understand their local areas (01 July 2021).  More...

‘Raw deal’: Feds face backlash from Melbourne’s north-west councils over ‘rorted’ fund
Mayors in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs say they are sick of getting a “raw deal” from the Morrison government on infrastructure following a scathing audit that found a multibillion-dollar fund for commuter car parks and road intersections had not been awarded on merit (30 June 2021).  More...

Government Inspectorate's report – 2020 council elections
The Local Government Inspectorate's report into the 2020 council elections was released and found that complaints more than doubled compared to the previous general elections, with 848 formal complaints compared to 409 in 2016. The Inspectorate explained that a third of all complaints were related to social media usage by candidates, community members and ratepayer groups (24 June 2021).  More...

Victoria moves towards four-bin waste system
Victorian councils are getting a $127 million handout from the state government to help them transition towards a four-bin household waste and recycling system (24 June 2021).  More...

Queensland

Moorooka's 'Magic Mile' may go under neighbourhood plan
Proposed zoning changes could allow three, five or even eight-storey developments across a handful of Brisbane suburbs that are currently zoned low or medium-density. Brisbane City Council is creating a neighbourhood plan for Moorooka, Salisbury and Nathan, within the 10-kilometre CBD ring and on the future Cross River Rail route (29 June 2021).  More...

In practice and courts

Commonwealth

NBN Co releases guidelines for Regional Co-Investment Fund
Local governments are being invited to apply to take part in NBN Co’s $300 million Regional Co-investment Fund. Several activities will not be eligible under the fund, including projects that target fewer than 50 premises or are under $500K total build cost. Please review the guidelines to determine eligibility, and contact a local NBN representative for more information. The closing date for applications is 18 February 2022, with first build estimate requests required no later than 1 October 2021.

Victoria

Integrating environment protection reform into land use planning – amendment VC203
With the commencement of new environment protection legislation on 1 July 2021 the Victorian Planning System has been updated to integrate environment protection reforms into land use planning. Planning scheme amendment VC203 aligns the Victoria Planning Provisions with the Environment Protection Act 2017 to enable greater prevention and mitigation of risks to human health and the environment (01 July 2021).

Twenty-eight councils collaborate on joint ESD project
The Elevating Targets Working Group, comprising officers from CASBE, Yarra, Moreland and Port Phillip City Councils and Mitchell Shire Council will manage the project on behalf of the twenty-eight participating councils. The MAV will run the tender process, anticipated to start July 2021. More information about the project can be found here (01 July 2021).

Regional Jobs & Infrastructure Fund 2021
The second round is open until 30 July and enables councils to seek up to $3 million for projects important to their communities. Information and guidelines for the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund can be found here.

Local Government (Land Information) Regulations 2021
To align with the commencement of sections 121 and 122 of the Local Government Act 2020 on 1 July 2021, new regulations are in preparation on ‘Land Information’. The proposed Local Government (Land Information) Regulations 2021 will replicate the current regulatory requirements for Land Information covered in the Local Government (General) Regulations 2015. For more information click here. Note: After review and consideration of the public comments the Regulations will be made and in force for 1 July 2021.

TAC Local Government Grants
Guidelines for the Local Government Grants are now available. The grants round opened on June 21 at 9am and closes on July 28. The focus of this year’s program is on local road safety analysis and infrastructure projects that prioritise the safety of pedestrians and cyclists while considering the Safe System principles. For all application details including how to apply and who is eligible to apply, please click here.

Black summer bushfire recovery grants program
The grants will be open to people in local government areas that were disaster declared after the 2019-20 bushfires, with full details to be available as part of grant guidelines in mid-2021. Guidelines and funding criteria will be available in July 2021 with applications expected to open shortly after. Funding will go to successful applicants from December 2021. For more information, click here.

Investment Fast Track Fund 2021: Second round
Part of the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, the stimulus round aims to create jobs by funding priority community projects that can be activated quickly, helping regions to recover and thrive. Applications for the second round of the Regional Infrastructure Fund’s 2020/21 program are due to open on 16 June. Information and guidelines for the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund can be found here.

Queensland

Brisbane industrial strategy review 
The Brisbane City Council has released Our productive city: Brisbane industrial future, a draft industrial strategy which is open for public consultation until 16 August 2021.

Works for Queensland projects across the region
The Works for Queensland program supports regional councils to undertake job-creating maintenance and minor infrastructure projects such as parks and playgrounds, community and sports facilities, swimming pools and water play areas, renewable energy initiatives, footpaths, roads and water infrastructure. A further $200 million committed for 2024-27. For more information click here.

Rockhampton Regional Council expands development incentives policy
Rockhampton Regional Council has expanded its development incentives policy to include multi-residential unit developments within close proximity to the CBD. The policy will apply to DA’s lodged between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021. For more information, please click here.

Cases

Victoria

Clarence City Council [2021] FWCA 3513
Fair Work Act 2009 section 185 – enterprise agreement.

Wavelength Group Pty Ltd v Upper Hunter Shire Council [2021] NSWCATAD 182
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – access to government information – access application – public interest considerations in favour of disclosure – public interest considerations against disclosure – whether overriding public interest against disclosure.

Flaherty v Upper Hunter Shire Council [2021] NSWCATAD 178
Access to the information is to be provided within 28 days of the date of publication of these reasons.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION – government information – whether redaction of irrelevant material is a reviewable decision – personal information and health information – defamatory allegations – endanger a persons health.

O'Shanassy v Turland [2021] NSWDC 269
(1) I disqualify myself from hearing the proceedings. (2) The hearing date of 2 August 2021 is confirmed.
COURTS AND JUDGES – bias – apprehended bias – disqualification.
On 1 October 2020 I made orders in favour of the defendant in proceedings brought by him for defamation and arising from his conduct as an elected councillor of Wingecarribee Shire Council, in Gair and Turland v Greenwood [2020] NSWDC 586.

Port Stephens Council v Webb [2021] NSWCATAD 180
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – access applications – application for restraint order under section 110 Government Information (Public Access) Act 2019 – exercise of discretion.
CIVIL PROCEDURE – amendment of application to abandon part.
In making these access applications, the respondent is exercising her legally enforceable right to be provided with the information she seeks, subject to any overriding public interest against disclosure.

Usher v Coffs Harbour City Council [2021] NSWPIC 196
WORKERS COMPENSATION – claim for medical expenses and weekly benefits following flu injection provided by respondent as part of a work health and safety program and which was administered in an appropriate location – issue as to whether this was an injury arising out of and in the course of employment and whether work was a substantial contributing factor.
DETERMINATIONS MADE: Award for the respondent in respect of the claim for medical expenses.
Respondent to pay the applicant weekly benefits pursuant to section 36 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 at the rate of $1,083 per week for 14 April 2020.
Susan Usher, was employed by Coffs Harbour City Council (the respondent) as an operations supervisor. The respondent was insured by StateCover Mutual Limited at all relevant times.

Sevmere Pty Ltd v Cairns Regional Council [2021] QPEC 32
The appeal is dismissed and the decision of the respondent confirmed.
PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT – appeal – where appeal against decision to refuse an extension application under section 87 of the Planning Act 2016 – whether to extend the currency period of a development approval for a material change of use in the form of notification of conditions with respect to permitted development – where the material change of use had been extended on two previous occasions – the distinction between an extension application and an application for a development approval for the material change of use – whether the appellant had taken reasonable steps to further the proposed development – whether there were sufficient reasons for the need for the extension – whether there was a “good reason” or “good town planning reason” for the development approval to be the subject of a fresh assessment and decision – where a new development application for the material change of use under the current planning scheme would be subject to impact assessment – the weight to be given to the changes in the assessment framework, level of assessment and third party rights – the extent to which the change in the planning instruments since the approval represents a change in planning scheme policy and the weight to be given to that – consistency of the proposal with the current planning instrument having regard to assessments of constraints and impacts – whether an issue estoppel arose by reason of the Court order that gave the development approval – the relevance of the need for a future operational works application – the weight to be given to the changes to the subject site – the weight to be given to changes to standards, benchmarks or guidelines relating to the assessment of bushfire hazard and landslip risk – the relevance of uncertainties and deficiencies in knowledge relating to ecological matters.
Local Government (Planning and Environment) Act 1990 (Qld) section 8.2(1).

Yarrawonga Community Action Group Inc v Moira SC (Red Dot) [2021] VCAT 655
Facilitation of local government infrastructure projects – clause 52.31 of all planning schemes – whether objector review application should be dismissed.
REASONS WHY DECISION IS OF INTEREST OR SIGNIFICANCE – LAW – issue of interpretation or application.
Application of principles in Wittenbach v Cardinia SC [2017] VCAT 793.
LEGISLATION – interpretation or application of statutory provision.
Section 28 of the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984.
PLANNING SCHEME – interpretation or consideration of VPP provision.
Clause 52.31. APPLICATION – significant, interesting or unusual use or development – application of policy, provision or principle or circumstances. Whether the review right exemption in clause 52.31 affects an application under section 82 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 brought before clause 52.31 commenced.

Queensland

Gold Coast Motorsport Training Centre Pty Ltd v Gold Coast City Council & Ors [2021] QPEC 33
PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT – appeal – development application – where the appellant seeks a development for an outdoor sport and recreation use being a kart racing and motorsport training facility – whether the proposed development conflicts with the planning scheme – whether the proposed development would detract from the amenity of the local area – whether the proposed development would have an unacceptable noise impact – whether there are sufficient grounds to justify approval despite the conflict.
Local Government Act 2009 Qld section 251.

Sevmere Pty Ltd v Cairns Regional Council [2021] QPEC 32
The appeal is dismissed and the decision of the respondent confirmed.
PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT – appeal – where appeal against decision to refuse an extension application under section 87 of the Planning Act 2016 – whether to extend the currency period of a development approval for a material change of use in the form of notification of conditions with respect to permitted development – where the material change of use had been extended on two previous occasions – the distinction between an extension application and an application for a development approval for the material change of use – whether the appellant had taken reasonable steps to further the proposed development – whether there were sufficient reasons for the need for the extension – whether there was a “good reason” or “good town planning reason” for the development approval to be the subject of a fresh assessment and decision – where a new development application for the material change of use under the current planning scheme would be subject to impact assessment – the weight to be given to the changes in the assessment framework, level of assessment and third party rights – the extent to which the change in the planning instruments since the approval represents a change in planning scheme policy and the weight to be given to that – consistency of the proposal with the current planning instrument having regard to assessments of constraints and impacts – whether an issue estoppel arose by reason of the Court order that gave the development approval – the relevance of the need for a future operational works application – the weight to be given to the changes to the subject site – the weight to be given to changes to standards, benchmarks or guidelines relating to the assessment of bushfire hazard and landslip risk – the relevance of uncertainties and deficiencies in knowledge relating to ecological matters.
Local Government (Planning and Environment) Act 1990 (Qld) section 8.2(1).

Legislation

Commonwealth

Bills and Acts

Local Government (Financial Assistance) (Final Factor for 2020-21 and Estimated Factor for 2021-22) Determination 2021
29/06/2021 – this instrument determines the final factor for 2020-21 financial year and estimated factor for the 2021-22 financial year. Each year, the level of financial assistance available to the states and territories for local government purposes, is indexed by a factor which is to be estimated, and then finally determined, by the Treasurer. 

Water Legislation Amendment (Inspector-General of Water Compliance and Other Measures) Bill 2021
Assent Act no: 74. Year: 2021. 30 June 2021 – to amend the Water Act 2007(the Act) to establish the role of an independent Inspector-General of Water Compliance to monitor, and provide independent oversight of, water compliance. The Act provides the legislative and regulatory framework for the management of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’s largest water resource. The Act enables the Commonwealth to manage, in conjunction with the Basin States, the Murray-Darling Basin resources in the national interest.

Victoria

Statutory rules – 29 June 2021
No 69: Local Government (Land Information) Regulations 2021.
No 70: Local Government (Long Service Leave) Regulations 2021.
No 71: Local Government Revocation Regulations 2021.

Acts commencements

Local Government Act 2020 (Vic)
Date of commencement: 1 July 2021.
Sections 44-46, 48-51, 71-86, 102-105, 107-122, 330, 362, Schedule 1 (items 1.2, 6, 8.2,8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.6, 13.5, 13.6, 18.2, 21.5,28.2, 28.3, 30.2, 39.1(b), 40.4, 40.6,43.3, 54.2, 57, 58, 66, 69.2, 69.3, 69.4,70.2, 73, 90.1, 90.3, 90.4, 101, 103) of this Act came in by forced commencement on 1 July 2021 section 2 (4) Act Number: 9/2020.

Bills

Date of second reading speech: 23 June 2021.
Liquor Control Reform Amendment Bill 2021 (Vic)

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.

Published by:

Scott Schlink

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