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Inside track: Local Government

28 January 2020

#Local Government

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Inside track: Local Government

In the media

Bushfire-destroyed homes should not be rebuilt in riskiest areas, experts say
Planning experts call for state governments to buy back land from people in most bushfire-prone areas (19 January 2020).  More...

ALGA: Governments, councils, industry supporting bushfire communities
Support including money, people with skills and resources, information and equipment continues to be expanded into bushfire affected communities across the country (17 January 2020).  More...

A 24-year-old council worker is taking on fossil fuels and his super fund in a world-first court case
A landmark trial in Australia could potentially change the way superannuation funds invest Australians' almost $3 trillion in retirement savings and pave the way for more climate-change-related litigation (17 January 2020).  More...

Tiny houses could ease housing pressures
According to the ALGA paper on tiny houses, Australia lacks a national affordable housing strategy, and there has been no national dialogue between the three levels of government on housing or planning. However, state and territory governments are responsible for administering planning legislation, and councils are often constrained by these requirements. This has been true in relation to tiny houses (13 January 2020).  More...


New disaster response human resource sharing database
To streamline the process for inter-council human resource sharing during this and future emergencies, the MAV has established an online Human Resource Sharing Database (17 January 2020).  More...

Statement on funding support for communities devastated by bushfire
The State Government announced $7.3 million in funding for three Victorian councils to coordinate and drive bushfire recovery efforts for their communities. Each council (Alpine, East Gippsland and Towong) will set up a Bushfire Recovery Directorate for twelve months to oversee bushfire recovery, focusing on rebuilding and planning, economic development, support for the farming and primary production sectors, and the ongoing wellbeing of community members (14 January 2020).  More...


LGNSW welcomes service to coordinate bushfire donations
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) welcomes the NSW Government’s commissioning of an online service – GIVIT - to coordinate the donation of much-needed goods and services for bushfire-affected communities, on behalf of all local councils. The free service is now available to the state’s 128 local councils (17 January 2020).  More...

Bushfire-ravaged communities on the NSW South Coast begin picking up the pieces
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appointed recovery coordinators in bushfire impacted regions to streamline communication between the various levels of government and other relief agencies.  More...

Sydney planning must focus on people, not cars
Sydney needs to move away from a vehicle-centric approach to urban planning if liveability is to be increased, according to a landscape architecture and urban design expert (15 January 2020).  More...

LGNSW welcomes $60 million for bushfires recovery
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) welcomes an initial $60 million in Australian government funding for 42 of the most severely bushfire affected local government areas, 33 of which are in NSW. Councils will be able to use the relief funding to ‘build back better’, something the local government sector has advocated for some time (10 January 2020).  More...

Fire affected Councils to receive immediate funding
The NSW Government is partnering with the Commonwealth to immediately distribute $33 million to Councils across the State who have been severely impacted by bushfires and will distribute funds to Councils within one business day following it clearing the State’s bank account. Each Council will receive $1 million and a further $18 million will be distributed at the discretion of the new National Bushfire Recovery Agency (10 January 2020).  More...


Council approves removal of 96 million litres of water a year from drought-ravaged region
Farmers in Queensland's drought-declared and bushfire-hit Southern Downs Region say they are devastated the council is allowing a company to take up to 96 million litres of water a year for bottling (16 January 2020).  More...

Brisbane needs 'breathing buildings' to adapt to climate change
In 2016, Brisbane City Council released the New World City Design Guide: Buildings that Breathe policy document, which recommended new developments in the city incorporate natural ventilation, porches, basements and tree shading, among other measures. Council planning chairman Matthew Bourke said there were no plans to force developers to include green design elements in new projects (16 January 2020).  More...

Stanthorpe runs out of water, requiring trucks to bring supplies from Warwick
Stanthorpe is now the centre of the largest water carting project by a local government, with the apple and wine-growing town's supply officially running out.  More...

How ratepayers in one of the country's fastest-growing cities 'lost $78 million'
With a report into Ipswich City Council released to the public, ratepayers now have an insight into exactly what went wrong including lost millions through a failed CBD development, a toxic culture of corruption and lack of direction (12 January 2020).  More...

'We had a very peculiar set of circumstances': Whistleblower hotline led to Ipswich council staff sackings
A whistleblower hotline set up for staff after the entire Ipswich council was sacked has received 118 complaints and resulted in several sackings, council administrator Greg Chemello says (09 January 2020).  More...

Greens councillor investigated after facilitating climate change protest meetings
Brisbane's only Greens councillor, Jonathan Sri, is being investigated by the councillor conduct review panel for allowing climate change protest meetings to take place in his office but he says he would do it again if given the chance (07 January 2020).  More...

Six-storey proposal for heritage seaside suburb sparks protest
A quiet seaside suburb in Brisbane's north could see six-storey buildings rubbing shoulders with single-storey heritage-listed buildings under a neighbourhood plan being drafted by Brisbane City Council (02 January 2020).  More...

River parkland project feted by Brisbane council now back in court
The development, next to Bulimba ferry terminal, was cause for concern for residents who protested it was inappropriate and oversized (20 December 2019).  More...

In practice and courts

Have your say on the Draft Heavy Vehicle Productivity Plan 2020-2025
The NHVR has released the Draft Heavy Vehicle Productivity Plan 2020-2025. A copy of the draft Heavy Vehicle Productivity Plan 2020-2025 can be found here. The final plan will incorporate an action plan with performance measurements and targets and is expected to be released in mid-2020. Submissions must be submitted by 13 March 2020.  More... 

ALGA Advocacy: Fairer Share
The Australian Local Government Association and your state/territory local government association have designed a staged advocacy program that will ensure that our message is heard and understood and lead to action – an increase in funding from the Australian Government to Local Governments (07 January 2020).  More...

ALGA: $60m in Safe Places grants
Local councils have until 14 February 2020 to apply for $60 million worth of grants for emergency accommodation which the Commonwealth says will provide up to 450 places for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.  More...

PC: Have your say on the draft report on National Transport Regulatory Reform
The Productivity Commission has released a the draft report on National Transport Regulatory Reform with public consultation open until 15 January 2020. The report examines the implementation of the national transport regulation reforms, including the development of three national regulators and the capacity of local government in supporting the implementation.

Telecommunications in new developments is under review
In light of recent and upcoming changes in the provision of telecommunications in new developments, the Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts (the Department) is undertaking a review of the Telecommunications in New Developments (TIND) Policy, which came into effect in March 2015. The Department is aiming to complete the review of the 2015 TIND Policy and make any necessary changes before 1 July 2020.  More...

Reminder: Retirement Living Code of Conduct
To ensure signatories meet the code’s standards and that appropriate resources are in place to support the code’s administration, the code will operate in a transitional stage until 31 December 2019. From 1 January 2020, residents will be able to make a complaint against a code signatory if they believe their community is not meeting the code standards.  More...

Inquiry into Australia's waste and recycling industries
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources has commenced an inquiry into Australia’s Waste Management and Recycling Industries. The Committee is inviting submissions from interested individuals and organisations addressing the terms of reference. Submissions should be lodged by 31 January 2020.  More...

EPBC Review
Public submissions have opened for the first review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in a decade. The review’s terms of reference includes that the panel make recommendations to modernise the Act after consultations with State, Territory and other levels of government. Respondents can read this discussion paper and make submissions before 14 February 2020. The review will be completed before October 2020.  More...


DELWP New Residential Zone Guidance released
The two new planning practice notes PPN90 and PPN91 cover important topics including how to plan for housing and how to make best use of the Victoria Planning Provisions to balance housing growth with the protection of neighbourhood character. The new planning practice notes follow a series of workshops about residential development, which included extensive consultation with councils, industry partners and other stakeholders (16 January 2020). 

SRO: Vacant residential land tax
If you own a property in one of 16 council areas that was unoccupied for six months or more in 2019, you must notify us via our vacant residential land tax portal. You can use our online tool to determine whether you have to pay vacant residential land tax.

DELWP: Draft Melbourne Industrial and Commercial Land Use Plan
The plan builds on policies, strategies and actions in Plan Melbourne and its associated Implementation Plan. It provides an overview of current and future needs for industrial and commercial land across metropolitan Melbourne and seeks to put in place a planning framework to support state and local government to plan more effectively for future employment and industry needs. Submissions closed on 31 December 2019.   More...

Review of the Retirement Villages Act 1986
The review is being conducted in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Retirement Housing Sector and aims to address concerns around: Contractual agreements, including whether contracts are too complex; Disclosure of fees and charges; Obligations for repairs and maintenance and Rights and obligations when selling a village unit.  More...

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning: Local Government Rating System Review
An independent panel is now reviewing all aspects of Victoria’s local government rating system. Their report will be submitted to the Minister for Local Government by 31 March 2020.  More...

Local Government: Councils and Emergencies Project Phases
Phase Two Phase Two aims to understand councils’ emergency management capability and capacity, based on the needs and risk profile of each municipality. Completed 2019 (20 December 2019)

Victorian Ombudsman current Investigations

Investigation into credit card use at Warrnambool City Council
Deborah Glass has begun investigating the use and authorisation of corporate credit cards at Warrnambool City Council. The investigation follows media reports that a former Council manager resigned earlier this year after misusing a Council credit card (16 December 2019).  More...

Planning Institute Australia’s 2020 program
PLANET courses are now open. The program covers topics such as: Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments; Biodiversity, Drawing Skills, Environmental Impact Assessments; Sustainable Transport and Tips and Tricks for regional planners presenting at VCAT (January 2020).  More...

IBAC: Operation Sandon public hearings will continue in 2020
IBAC's public hearings into allegations of serious corrupt conduct concerning the transparency and integrity of planning and property development decision making, including donations to candidates in local and state government elections, will continue in early 2020.  More...

s.186 exemption for council recycling contracts
The Victorian Local Government Minister has announced a state-wide s.186 exemption for local councils to extend their recycling collection contracts to 30 June 2021. Attached is a copy of the letter sent to all councils co-signed by Minister Somyurek and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio MP.


RFS's Planning for Bushfire Protection guide updated
An updated version of the RFS's Planning for Bushfire Protection 2019 (PBP 2019) for councils, planners, fire authorities and developers promises to provide improved clarity, design flexibility and appropriate bush fire safety outcomes to people building or re-building in bushfire-prone areas (10 January 2020).  More...

Increasing Resilience to Climate Change grants
The Grants program supports projects that help communities to take action and manage climate change impacts by being able to better plan, prepare for, and respond to heatwaves, storms, floods, drought and bushfires, to increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. The Climate Change Fund is providing grants between $10,000 and $30,000 for individual projects (10 January 2020).  More...

NSW Planning Department: Have your say

Western Sydney Aerotropolis Planning Package
The Western Sydney Planning Partnership (Planning Partnership) has the responsibility for delivering the Final Plan and Precinct Plans within the Western Sydney Aerotropolis to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. Notification start-end date 06/12/2019 - 28/02/2020

IPC NSW: Information Commissioner updates Guideline 3
 The NSW Information Commissioner has updated Guideline 3: For Local government - personal information in development applications following consultations with the NSW Privacy Commissioner and peak bodies for the local government sector. Download the updated Guideline 3 here (15 January 2020).  More...

Waste export ban consultation
Councils are invited to contribute to consultation on the costs and benefits of regulatory options associated with phasing out waste exports following Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement to work to a timetable to ban waste plastic, paper, glass and tyre exports. Information on the process and the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) can be found on the Department of Environment and Energy website. Submissions close 5:00pm 12 February 2020. (January 2020).  

IPART – Local Government

Special Variations & Minimum Rates 2020-21
Local councils seeking a special variation to general income above the rate peg (which we set at 2.6% for 2020-21), or to increase minimum rate levels above the statutory limit, are required to submit applications to IPART for review and assessment. Note - Councils intending to apply for an special variation (SV) for 2020-21 should submit application by 10 February. Ratepayers of councils proposing an SV for 2020-21 should note IPART will conduct a submission process after councils submit their applications in February 2020.  More...

Local Strategic Planning Statements Training Sessions
Following changes to the Environment Planning and Assessment Act last year, councils are required to prepare statements by 1 December 2019 (Sydney councils) and 1 July 2020 (regional councils) For more information or to express interest in a course for your area.  More...

Office of Local Government: Council Circulars
16 January 2020 20-02 Exemption for activities under Part 3 of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
06 January 2020 20-01 Recovery Information for Councils impacted by bushfires in NSW

A New Risk Management and Internal Audit Framework for Local Councils in NSW

Every council in NSW will be required to appoint and operate an Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee by March 2021 as part of the NSW Government’s package of reforms to strengthen local government. The discussion paper-A New Risk Management and Internal Audit Framework for Local Councils in NSW-will be on public exhibition until 31 December 2019. More information on how to make a submission is available at More...


LGAQ: Key events for Queensland councils in 2020
Events for March – October 2020 are outlined here. Keep an eye on the events page which will be updates as more events are confirmed in the calendar (16 January 2020).

Department of Environment and Science: Local Government Waste Management Reforms
Open until 10 February 2020. Have your say on how councils can manage waste collection and disposal in their local government areas.  More...

Queensland Parliament: Current Inquiries
Economics and Governance Committee Submissions close on 09 February 2020. Report due 07 February 2020.  More...

QAO: audit program for 2020–23 is out now
Our audit topics are wide-ranging and cover challenges facing the public sector across all aspects of government service delivery (18 December 2019).  More...

OIA Queensland – Decisions 06January 2020
Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Redland City Councillor decision
Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Moreton Bay Regional Councillor decision
Statement from the Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian – Gold Coast City Councillor decision

OIC QLD: Compliance audit report – Bundaberg Regional Council
On 27 November 2019, the Chair of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety parliamentary committee tabled our report of Bundaberg Regional Council’s compliance with the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld).  More...

OIC QLD: Follow-up audit report – Townsville City Council
On 26 November 2019, the Chair of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety parliamentary committee tabled our report into Townsville City Council’s progress in implementing the 24 recommendations of our 2017-18 compliance audit.  More...

PCA: Queensland Government passes electoral reform
The Queensland Government has introduced a range of electoral reforms in the final sitting week of Parliament for 2019. The reforms seek to change election campaigning funding and expenditure arrangements in Queensland. Specifically, the proposed reforms aim to: Reduce conflicts of interest at a local government level. The proposed reforms are set to be debated when parliament resumes in February next year (28 November 2019).  More...

Queensland Parliament: Current Inquiries
Economics and Governance Committee Submissions close on 09 February 2020. Report due 07 February 2020.  More...

BCC: City Plan amendments: In progress
To ensure it stays up to date and effective, Brisbane City Council regularly updates Brisbane City Plan 2014 with new or amended information. Updates may include:

  • amendments to comply with changes in Queensland Government legislation
  • changes as a result of community or industry feedback from development assessment processes
  • new or updated neighbourhood plans developed in partnership with local communities

(28 November 2019).  More...

Brisbane City Council
Livable (or Universal) Housing Design is a set of key construction features which aim to make homes easier and safer to use for all occupants including: people with disability, ageing Australians, people with temporary injuries, and families with young children. A livable home is designed to be easy to enter, easy to move around in, and be capable of cost-effective adaptation (28 November 2019).

LGAQ: Queensland land use information survey welcomes your input
Local government officers previously, currently or potentially using Queensland’s land use information and data (e.g. spatial information, land use and/or land management officers) are encouraged to provide feedback (03 December 2019).  More...

LGAQ: Rental reforms: have your say now
The Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) identifies options for five priority areas: minimum housing standards, renting with pets, minor modifications, domestic and family violence, ending a tenancy fairly. Comments required by 16 December 2019.  More...

LGAQ: The Delegations Register Service has been updated
We're pleased to let you know that a complete review of the Delegations Register Service (member access required) has been undertaken and is now available for members in LG Online. Following are some of the most significant changes to the Registers (27 November 2019).

Local Government Bulletins

No 6: Arrangements for the caretaker period and amendments affecting councillor discretionary funds from 1 January — 2020 Local Government Quadrennial Elections
The purpose of this bulletin is to provide advice to Local Governments on the limitations on making major policy decisions and publishing election material during the caretaker period.  More...

Have your say: future of South Bank
The Palaszczuk Government is encouraging people to have their say on the future of the South Bank precinct, with the roll out of public consultation on the master plan. The master plan would build on the precinct’s iconic features, while harnessing new ideas. It is expected the master plan process will be completed by the end of 2020.  More...

Have your say on the new IPWEAQ street design manual
IPWEAQ has released a proposed new Street Design Manual: Walkable Neighbourhoods, for public consultation until 20 December 2019.  More...

LGAQ: Container Refund Scheme (CRS) – Revenue sharing arrangements
Transitional arrangement provisions in the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Container Refund Scheme - Material Recovery Agreements) Amendment Regulation 2019 have been extended to 31 December 2019, allowing more time to find a sustainable (default) arrangement.  More...



Blacktown City Council v Concato (No 4) [2020] NSWSC 9
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW — jurisdictional error — judicial review of Valuer-General’s compensation determination — where comparable sales method employed — whether alleged error in applying comparable sales method amounts to jurisdictional error
VALUATION — compulsory acquisition — compensation — disturbance — whether error in allowing claim for stamp duty and relocation costs where land valued based on development potential — whether jurisdictional error 
VALUATION — compulsory acquisition — powers of Valuer-General under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms) Compensation Act 1991 (NSW) — power to redetermine compensation determination once made

Boomerang & Blueys Residents Group Inc v New South Wales Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and MidCoast Council (No 2) [2019] NSWLEC 202
JUDICIAL REVIEW – application seeking declaratory relief in relation to decisions made by the Minister and Council to prepare, certify and adopt the Great Lakes Coastal Zone Management Plan – whether the applicant has standing – whether the impugned decisions were unreasonable – whether there was non-compliance with the Coastal Protection Act 1979 (NSW) and Guidelines for Preparing Coastal Zone Management Plans – whether there was a deficiency of information for the Great Lakes Coastal Zone Management Plan – whether there was a rational basis for the risk assessment in the Great Lakes Coastal Zone Management Plan – application dismissed

Maroun Holdings Pty Ltd v Kiama Municipal Council [2020] NSWLEC 1013
APPEAL – development control order – demolish works order – stairway constructed on public reserve – statutory requirements for the issue of the order met – discretion as to whether order should remain or be revoked in circumstances where the Council’s own actions and plan of management supported the construction of the stairs – discretion exercised to vary the order to allow them to remain with work to be carried out

Happy 2 Pty Ltd v Bayside Council [2020] NSWLEC 1000
DEVELOPMENT APPEAL – residential apartment development – Apartment Design Guide – SEPP 65 – mixed use development – conciliation conference – agreement between the parties – orders


Wendt & Ors v Ipswich City Council [2020] QIRC 2
INDUSTRIAL LAW – APPLICATION FOR REINSTATEMENT - application in existing proceedings – application to dismiss for want of jurisdiction – where Applicants were elected as Councillors – where Council was dissolved – where Councillors no longer held office – where Applicant's filed application for re-instatement - whether Applicants are Councillors, employees or both – definition of employee – employment indicia - section 317 of the IR Act. Local Government Act 2016 Qld; Local Government Regulation 2012 Qld; Local Government (Dissolution of Ipswich City Council) Act 2018 Qld

Fraser Coast Regional Council v Alderton [2020] QIRC 1
INDUSTRIAL LAW - APPLICATION FOR REINSTATMENT - APPLICATION FOR COSTS - where application by respondent for reinstatement refused - where respondent afforded procedural fairness and natural justice - where respondent refused offer of settlement - where respondent put on notice applicant would seek costs if she continued to prosecute her application - whether application without reasonable cause or reasonable prospects of success - whether the refusal of the settlement offer was vexatious or without reasonable cause

Metroof Limestone Pty Limited v Rockhampton Regional Council & Anor [2019] QLC 49
ENERGY AND RESOURCES – MINERALS – COURTS OR TRIBUNALS EXERCISING JURISDICTION IN MINING MATTERS – QUEENSLAND – where the applicant applied for a mining lease to mine limestone – where the objectors to the mining lease did not elect to be active parties in the hearing – where the close proximity of an environmentally sensitive area of vegetation led to a variation of environmental authority – whether the mining operations affected the nearby low order rural road – whether there were any surface water or groundwater issues which affected the neighbouring property. Environmental Protection Act 1994 Qld s 319



Statutory Rules
No 156 Local Government (General) Amendment Regulations 2019 17 December 2019. These Regulations came into operation on 31 December 2019.


Regulations and other miscellaneous instruments
Administrative Arrangements (Administration of Acts—Amendment No 1) Order 2020 (2020-15) — published LW 17 January 2020
Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes—Public Service Agencies) Amendment Order 2020 (2020-16) — published LW 17 January 2020
Administrative Arrangements (Administration of Acts—Amendment No 3) Order 2019 (2019-637) — published LW 20 December 2019
Local Government (General) Amendment (Elections) Regulation 2019 (2019-641) — published LW 20 December 2019


Subordinate legislation as made – reminder
No 228 Proclamation—Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 2 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (commencing remaining provisions)
This Proclamation fixes the following dates for the commencement of a number of remaining provisions: 20 January 2020, and 30 March 2020. To improve transparency and public accountability of local government elections in line with State and Commonwealth electoral and governance frameworks  

Subordinate legislation as made – 13 December 2019
No 246 Economic Development (Roma Street Cross River Rail PDA) Amendment Regulation 2019
Amendment of sch 1 (Priority development areas) Schedule 1, part 2— insert— Map No. PDA 16 - Roma Street Cross River Rail Priority Development Area

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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