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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_26950" align="alignnone" width="350"] Is the party over for Airbnb in NSW before it even began? NSW government says slow down. [/caption]

 

 

After three public hearings, 212 submissions and a parliamentary report the NSW government has announced it is not yet ready to make a decision about how to regulate short-term holiday letting through online booking services like Airbnb and Stayz.

Instead, the NSW government will conduct a ‘broad consultation’ with the public and the short-term accommodation industry, including bed and breakfasts and hotels, before publishing an options paper next month.

The options paper, which the Departments of Planning and Environment and Fair Trading will also contribute to, will explore land use and planning issues and strata management concerns, including the impact on the lives and safety of existing residents.

This morning’s announcement (Thursday) was in response to an October 2016 report by the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment on the best way to regulate the explosion of short-term accommodation letting and the continued rise of Airbnb in the state.

The report recommended the government make it easier for homeowners to rent out a whole or part of their house and for it to adopt a light regulatory touch.

This approach included relaxing state planning laws so that local councils could class short-term letting as exempt development, providing it did not have excessive impact on other residents.

But the government offered only ‘qualified support’ to the committee’s recommendations, stating they needed further consideration and more public consultation.

It has been slow going. After submissions closed in November 2015 there were three public hearings between March and May 2016 followed by the final report on October 19, 2016 and the government’s response six months later.

NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said it was too complicated and divisive an issue to rush.

“It’s no surprise that NSW and Sydney are highly sought after destinations for international and domestic visitors, however, we must find a balance between providing options for accommodation and residents being able to go about their daily lives. This will support the best environment for residents and visitors so that it is a great destination,” Mr Roberts said. 

“The inquiry recommendations make sense, but the regulation of short-term letting needs broader engagement with the industry and the community to establish a model that enables it to continue to flourish and innovate whilst ensuring the amenity and safety of users and the wider community are protected.  

“It's sensible to take time on a complex issue like this, which is why we are releasing an options paper next month.”

The government supported the report’s recommendations around communicating with councils and residents any changes and that councils take the lead on informing landowners about their rights and duties.

Also supported was giving owners’ corporations more powers to respond to any negative consequences of short-term lets in their buildings, through amending strata regulations.

NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said the government would concentrate on finding common ground to address the concerns of everyone involved.

“We need to find what will work best for the people of NSW, which is why we’re issuing an options paper for discussion with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Kean said. 

“We don’t want a holiday accommodation market that’s so over-regulated it puts people off coming here but the rights of residents who live near these properties must be considered too.   

“While short-term holiday letting, if properly managed and respected by all parties, can be a boost to the local economy, the need to protect people’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own homes is equally important.”    

Meanwhile, Airbnb Australia Country Manager Sam McDonagh called the government's response a 'strong, positive step towards ensuring fair and progressive rules and regulation for residents and visitors to NSW'.

“We appreciate that these things take time and that it’s important to get the balance right," Mr McDonagh said. "We’re confident that Premier Berejiklian and the NSW government will join the state governments in Tasmania and South Australia, in embracing home sharing, and introduce fair regulations that allow more people in NSW to share their extra space.”

 

Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.        
                    [post_title] => NSW government delays Airbnb decision
                    [post_excerpt] => Options paper by next month.
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                    [post_content] => 

 

Trains in NSW will struggle to arrive on time and be blighted by overcrowding unless the capacity of the rail network is ‘increased significantly’ by 2019, says a report by the NSW Auditor-General.

The audit of passenger rail services and rail punctuality in Sydney and regional areas, services overseen by Transport for NSW and contracted out to Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, found that the rail agencies were ‘well placed’ to manage the forecasted increase in passengers up to 2019 but would battle to stay on time beyond this date.

But Auditor-General Margaret Crawford warned that this needed to be tackled.

“Based on forecast patronage increases, the rail agencies will find it hard to maintain punctuality after 2019 unless the capacity of the network to carry trains and people is increased significantly,” Ms Crawford said.

“If recent higher than forecast patronage growth continues, the network may struggle to maintain punctuality before 2019.”

The NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan predicts there will be a 26 per cent increase in passengers between 2012 and 2031 and that passenger numbers may well overtake this figure.

Forecasts have underestimated passenger numbers in the past, particularly in the morning peak. There has been an annual growth of 6.6 per cent since May 2014, twice as much as was predicted by the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan.

More passengers usually mean more delays as trains wait longer at stations for passengers to get on and off.

Ms Crawford said Transport or NSW had been making progress but was not close to submitting a costed plan to the government to address these challenges.

“If patronage continues to increase at a faster rate than forecast, particularly during the morning peak, the network will struggle to cope before 2019," she said.

“There is a significant risk that investments will not be made soon enough to handle future patronage levels. Ideally planning and investment decisions should have been made already.”

While the audit found that system-wide punctuality was good overall, it pinpointed poor punctuality in some areas of the network.

Problem areas
  • Snarl ups around North Sydney affecting afternoon peak services out to Western Sydney and Hornsby via Strathfield
  • East Hills express trains in the afternoon peak performed ‘well below target’
  • Intercity trains were less punctual than suburban trains with declining punctuality between 2011 and 2014
But the Auditor-General was relatively sanguine about how these problems were being tackled, noting that Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains were ‘well advanced’ with strategies to address the North Sydney blockage with improved infrastructure, more staff training, new timetables  and fewer speed restrictions. Train timetable changes should correct the East Hills delays within three years, she said. Replacing old intercity trains and ensuring good staff training would ease intercity delays but MS Crawford said improvements to contracts would also help, given that Sydney Trains was responsible for train, track and signal maintenance and managing trains on the rail network. She said that Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains were now working collaboratively to make improvements to the contracts. Recommendations
  • Transport for NSW should submit plans to address passenger growth over the next five to ten years to the government as soon as possible
  • Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW should: a) oversee and resource all plans to address passenger increases b) adjust strategies for any patronage growth above projections
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should publish customer delay results by June 2018
  • Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains should agree by December 2017: a) specific performance targets for intercity train, track and signal availability and reliability b) guidelines for train priorities during disruptions and indicators of control centre performance when implementing these guidelines
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should by June 2018: a) improve the accuracy of measuring passenger numbers and develop a better understanding of growth trends b) address small errors in the adjustment factors used to determine a train’s punctuality c) improve their understanding of the factors impacting on intercity punctuality
  • Transport for NSW should, commencing June 2017, explore the potential to use behavioural insights to encourage more passengers to travel outside the height of the morning peak between 8 am and 9 am
Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => NSW trains will struggle with delays and overcrowding by 2019, says audit   [post_excerpt] => Problem areas of network revealed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26894 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:05:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:05:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26894 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26841 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content] =>

Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’?

  Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), representing companies responsible for the majority of container transport to and from the Port of Melbourne, has called on the Andrews’ Victorian Labor Government to help container transport operators get a ‘fair go’ in the toll pricing to use the West Gate Tunnel. CTAA was responding to the announcements by the Victorian Premier that a consortium headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors has been selected to build the West Gate Tunnel Project (formally known as the Western Distributor Project) to commence in early 2018, and that once completed, there would be 24/7 ‘bans’ on trucks on roads in the inner west of Melbourne. CTAA director Neil Chambers said: “Not surprisingly, container transport operators in the inner and outer Western industrial suburbs undertake numerous truck trips to and from the Port of Melbourne during the day, at night and on weekends, to service vital container trade volumes through the biggest container port in Australia.” “The original government business case called for Transurban to consider a reduced toll price for transport operators undertaking these shuttle operations, as well as suitable trip caps, and the favourable treatment of Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles.”   Read more here.  This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’? [post_excerpt] => 24/7 'ban' on trucks in inner western Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-west-gate-tunnel-ban-trucks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26841 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26709 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-31 11:06:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:06:38 [post_content] => Manchester city centre, UK.     Three Australian cities will replicate a UK initiative designed to deliver economic growth, affordable housing and new infrastructure while devolve decisions away from federal government towards state and local government. City Deals is a UK initiative which began in 2012 with eight deals for cities outside London, including Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and Leeds and covering a population of 12.7 million. They have now been introduced across 38 UK city-regions. Under City Deals, state government and local councils decide what needs to be done to lift economic growth locally and they set targets in areas such as jobs, affordable housing and emissions reduction. The deals also include the regional areas around cities. The scheme emphasises building infrastructure and aims to deliver long-term benefits, such as higher land values, bigger tax receipts, more jobs and increased productivity. In the UK, most contracts are for ten years and funding often comes from all three levels of government. Local councils’ contributions tend to be lower than that from the other tiers of government, around 10 to 20 per cent, and often includes contributions in kind, such as land transfers and council officers’ time. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is known to be a fan of City Deals for Australia and he has committed to early deals for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney. The process for future deals will be announced later. The Launceston City Deal, signed in September last year, promises to support education, employment and investment and this will include a new university campus in the city centre; revitalising the historic CBD and a new National Institute for Forest Products Innovation Hub. Under the Launceston deal, $140 million comes from the federal government and $60 million from the Tasmanian government. The Western Sydney City Deal, which includes the local government areas of the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly, seems to have a pretty broad remit. It will focus on public transport, employment and investment (particularly youth and indigenous employment); more affordable housing by boosting supply and diversity; biodiversity and conservation and arts and culture. There is no mention of who is paying what under the Western Sydney deal, which is up on the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s website. To find out more about the UK experience and what it could mean for Australia, Government News caught up with Scottish urban economist and affordable housing specialist Professor Duncan MacLennan, who has been involved with the Glasgow City Deal. What City Deals can do  But first, let’s start off with what City Deals could do for Australia. Prof MacLennan explains that cities are ‘core areas driving national productivity’ and he says City Deals have been valuable because they have placed infrastructure at the centre of city thinking and coherent investment strategies.   While cities drive growth, the income and tax receipts from this goes mainly to state or federate government - there is a disproportionate flow back - while cities are stuck with the problems stemming from growth, like congestion, pollution and a shortage of affordable housing. Indeed, Prof MacLennan says there is some evidence to suggest that some skilled workers are fleeing cities, fed up with long commutes and expensive housing. City Deals attempt to reverse this situation by channelling some of the money back into city-regional areas. Prof MacLennan says: “In the absence of changing the fiscal system, it’s a reasonably appropriate mechanism for getting money where it needs to be. “The main benefit to City Deals is the new focus on infrastructure [that has] raised local capacity to deal with it and more coherent investment strategies.” What they the deals don’t do, he says, is lead to a better system of sub-national government because they are uneven in their impact. In the UK, the deals are not open to everyone and they have not been rolled out evenly. Since City Deals began, Prof MacLennan says that metropolitan authorities have strengthened their capacity to do big infrastructure planning and they have got much better at making the economic case for infrastructure investment. “Big City Deals now know much more about infrastructure planning and how to do it well than central government,” he says. “There is work being done that wasn’t being done three or four years’ ago.” This point was picked up in the UK National Audit Office’s (NAO) report on the first wave of eight City Deals, calling them a ‘catalyst to manage devolved funding and responsibilities’. The report also commended the deals for cutting through funding complexities and giving cities direct access to central government decision makers, which in turn helped them secure funding and support from other government departments. “This helped cities agree deals aligned to their ambitions and local priorities,” said the NAO’s report. But the process is not without its problems. Resources, as ever, have not been there to help cities build their capacity locally. Local government was expected to pool its resources and given no funding to support additional management capacity. This can lead to skills shortages, for example in forecasting and modelling. “It is not clear, however, whether this approach is sustainable in the context of wider reductions in the government’s funding for local authorities. Departments’’ resource constraints have impacted on the government’s capacity to make bespoke, wide-ranging deals with more places,” The NAO noted. Other criticisms of the UK model have included the inherent difficulty of uneven power relations between the three levels of government; the centralised control exerted when deals are negotiated; the lack of transparency around the criteria for cities to be selected for a new; vagueness around the aims, monitoring and evaluation of some City Deals and extra pressure on the already highly constrained budgets of local councils. Another downside of the City Deals, says Prof MacLennan, is raising expectations. “People think this is going to solve all their problems and don’t pay attention to other programs that are reducing and changing.” It can also open up gaps between the haves and the have nots: those areas which have City Deals and those that do not. Prof MacLennan says: “The differences may become so great that the government may have to come in and think about what it does for lagging cities.” But the neediest areas are often those where councils that may not have the organisation or the skilled workforce to make their case for a City Deal. Recommendations for Australian City Deals Good economic modelling is important from the get go, says Prof MacLennan, because it helps predict how infrastructure investment decisions affect the behaviour of individual households and businesses over several years. This can involve leveraging expertise from the university sector. For example, northern English City Deals for cities like Greater Manchester and Newcastle saw local government teaming up with universities for economic modelling and analysis. But Prof MacLennan says Sydney does not appear to have any economic metropolitan modelling ready to use. “You need to pay more attention to what you need to know before you start,” he says. “Otherwise you rely on consultants’ reports that are rarely ever in the public domain and never peer reviewed so that nobody knows what’s in them other than the government.” Once projects are up and running, it is essential to monitor their progress against targets and evaluate them effectively, although it is not always easy to know what would have happened were a City Deal not in place. “What matters is the monitoring and the learning from good monitoring,” he says. Some benefits are fiendishly tricky to quantify. For example, gauging economic gains from sustainability initiatives is difficult when there is no carbon price in Australia. Milestones are part of funding deals and if they are not met it means the next tranche of cash could be held back. The UK now has its own dedicated evaluation panel for City Deals. Putting in enough capital initially is important. Prof MacLennan says the volume of capital going into growing cities like Edinburgh, London and Manchester is not currently enough to resolve the issues these cities face. Exploring innovative methods of finance or making use of old ones could prove useful for Australian City Deals. The Scottish city of Aberdeen recently launched its own government bond but Prof MacLennan points out that cities have limited control over their tax affairs (the key to paying back bonds) and says further fiscal reform would be needed. If this is fixed, he anticipates other major cities could follow suit. In general, he says the UK has not come up with very exciting alternative methods of funding under City Deals.   On the whole, Australia is in a good position to implement City Deals and make them work. Prof MacLennan says that the Australian federal government and the states and territories have been much better at making infrastructure decisions than the UK. “I think there is a track record here off trying to think coherently about infrastructure … but the better City Deals, like Manchester, would have relevance to what happens in metropolitan Sydney.” “The images of Australia aren’t about the bush any more, it’s the cities.” [post_title] => What the UK can teach Australia about City Deals [post_excerpt] => Three Australian cities chosen for early deal. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26709 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-31 11:58:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:58:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26709 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26702 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-29 14:17:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-29 03:17:54 [post_content] => Time is running out for opponents of the land titles lease sell-off.   As the minutes tick down on the deadline for private sector bids to run the NSW land titles registry opposition to the sale is intensifying.   The Berejiklian Government’s plans to flog the only profitable part of the Land and Property Information (LPI) agency have met with widespread anger from surveyors, unions, property developers, real estate agents, community groups and lawyers, who argue that it will debase the quality of the service and make it more expensive for ordinary people, as well causing skilled LPI staff to run for the door. Land titles currently makes a net profit of about $130 million a year. The government will rake in $2 billion by giving the private sector a 35-year lease to operate the registry but Labor has argued this dwarfs the revenue forfeited over the same period. The windfall is earmarked to rebuild Parramatta Stadium and for renovating ANZ Stadium. Despite the majority of people being blissfully unaware of the system until they need it, land titles underpins billions of dollars spent in the NSW economy and a $1.2 trillion real estate market. Land titles define legal ownership and boundaries of land parcels and they are integral to buying and selling property, as well as taking out and paying off mortgages, leasing and inheriting property. A public rally protesting against the sell-off on Tuesday in Sydney’s CBD was followed by a last ditch attempt by Labor to introduce a private member’s bill into NSW Parliament to repeal the previous legislation, which allowed the lease. NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said he hoped to shut down the privatisation before bidders had to finalise their bids with the government, which he said was tomorrow (Thursday). Mr Foley  warned that allowing the deal to go ahead could throw the system into jeopardy and possibly hand control and access to NSW property records to an overseas-based consortia. He said it would push up conveyancing and land title fees, force home owners to take out title insurance and move 400 jobs offshore. Labor maintains that the sell-off will forfeit the $4 billion revenue which would be generated over 35 years that could instead be channeled towards essential services. “The only people that want this sale to go ahead are the Premier, the Treasurer and a handful of bankers and lawyers who stand to receive a fat pay cheque once the sale goes through,” Mr Foley said. “Among the bidders are consortia that are based offshore, which means they can avoid paying tax, make a buck and can shrug off their responsibility to the people of this state.” But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet appear to be pushing on. They have said the new private provider would invest in new technology and faster processing times could be expected, improving the service for consumers and for industry. Moving to reassure Australians, Mr Perrottet said the data would remained owned by the government and not be stored offshore. Ms Berejiklian has said the state would continue to guarantee any title and compensate any claims through the Torrens Assurance Fund. But a gaff over GST on LPI fees has proved a headache for Mr Perrottet. GST is currently not payable on these fees but this will change if the service is privatised. To protect consumers from price hikes, Mr Perrottet has instructed potential bidders to take 10 per cent off the fees, whereas fees had previously been capped at the CPI.   Shadow Finance, Services and Property Minister Clayton Barr has argued that this is an oversight and slashes the land titles registry’s value from between $200 million to $250 million to potential buyers, yielding less for the taxpayer than was originally forecast.  Greens MP Justin Field said the government should abandon the sale of the ‘world-class land titling service’. "The more we find out about the sale of this monopoly and essential service, the more opposition grows,” Mr Field said. “The community is right to be concerned about increasing risk of fraud, misuse of personal data and increasing costs of property purchases as a result of the privatisation. "The NSW Governments should listen to the experts, LPI staff and the community and stop the sell-off of land titles," he said. Mr Field has launched a community petition to stop the privatisation here. Opponents to the sell-off include the Law Society of NSW, Institute of Surveyors NSW, the Concerned Titles Group, LPI Staff Union, the Public Service Association of NSW and the Real Estate Institute of NSW.   [post_title] => The last stand: Land titles sale [post_excerpt] => Time running out for opponents of sale. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26702 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-31 11:40:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:40:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26702 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26647 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-03-24 11:54:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-24 00:54:52 [post_content] =>     Next week's Smart Conference will address the impact of a infrastructure projects, such as the light rail expansion, on transport and logistics. With Sydney CBD undergoing a phenomenal level of transformation, there is a significant number of public and private sector infrastructure projects being undertaken including the closure of George Street, the city’s traditional thoroughfare. Sydney CBD is a $70bn economy and in the global spotlight. While changes occur, the city needs to continue with business as usual. 630,000 people work in Sydney CBD and rely on 35,000 commercial vehicle movements per day to support their needs. In addition, while the transformation is occurring, there is a need to accommodate high levels of construction traffic. While commercial vehicles play a major role to keep the CBD supplied, they are only one part of the ecosystem. Freight operators need to adapt to the new environment, and with the ongoing level of change, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this is long-term change. This presentation will describe how Transport for NSW is encouraging this change. Transport for NSW is undertaking a generational level of transformation that is impacting the way we work and live. High on the priority list of things to be addressed in NSW and other states are Urban Congestion and National Connectivity. The infrastructure being delivered will benefit both passenger and freight movement.   Marg Prendergast, CBD Coordinator General @TransportforNSW will open Smart Conference on Wednesday 29 March.   Read more here.     This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News.  [post_title] => Transport challenges take centre stage at Smart Conference [post_excerpt] => Impact of new infrastructure projects. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => transport-challenges-take-centre-stage-smart-conference [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-24 13:43:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-24 02:43:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26647 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26334 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-24 17:21:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-24 06:21:52 [post_content] =>   The Corkman Irish pub after demolition. Pic: Jenny Zhou, Melbourne Law School student.        Two shonky developers and their company faced 16 charges today (Friday) and up to $2 million in fines for demolishing a landmark, heritage Irish pub in Melbourne. Melbourne City Council and the state’s building authority Victorian Building Authority (VBA), laid 16 charges in Melbourne Magistrates Court against the pair and their company for illegally demolishing the 159-year-old Corkman Irish pub in Carlton during October last year. The council and the VBA spent three months investigating the illegal knock down, which was in a heritage overlay area, before laying charges against cowboy developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri and their company that owned the land, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd. The two men, who bought the pub in 2015 for $4.76 million, were charged with demolishing the Leicester Street building without a permit; refusing to obey a stop work order; not giving the council 48 hours written notice of the demolition and doing the work outside permissible hours. Mr Kutlesovski was also charged with being an unregistered demolisher. Meanwhile, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, was charged with allowing the demolition without a permit; failing to observe a stop building work order, contravening planning legislation, carrying out demolition work outside permitted hours and not giving the council 48 hours’ notice of demolition.   The maximum penalty for each charge ranges from $3,109 to $388,650 so the two men and their company could owe up to $2 million. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he hoped the charges against the developers would lead to the pub being rebuilt. He told a media conference this afternoon: “These are very serious charges carrying very serious fines”. “Everything from demolishing a building, to being without a permit, to failing to observe a stop work order, and everything in between. “It’s not that we want to go into court to punish people as a consequence of what they have done, what we’d really like to see is The Corkman reinstated and that is possible.” Waste from the site, including dangerous asbestos, was later found dumped on a site the two man own in Cairnlea. They were understood to be planning a 12-storey apartment block on the flattened site.   [post_title] => They came in with a wrecking ball: Council lays charges over demolition of Melbourne Irish pub [post_excerpt] => Fines could hit $2 million. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => came-wrecking-ball-council-lays-charges-demolition-melbourne-irish-pub [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-27 10:44:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-26 23:44:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26334 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26265 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-17 10:19:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-16 23:19:05 [post_content] => Council mergers: A tale of two Premiers     NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s decision on Tuesday to dump six regional council mergers and push ahead with Sydney metropolitan mergers concludes another chapter in what has been a terribly managed process. Forcibly merging local councils was never going to be easy but former NSW Premier Mike Baird and Local Government Minister Paul Toole set in motion a sequence of events that further tarnished the public’s view of politicians, irritated councils and angered councillors, all while swallowing a huge amount of time, effort and money. The words dog’s and breakfast spring to mind. “It’s a well-earned epithet in this case,” says Professor Graham Sansom, who led the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s (ILGRP) inquiry into NSW local government reform in 2013. “I think you can say with some fairness that pretty much everything they could get wrong they did get wrong,” says Prof Sansom. “The merger process has unquestionably been a disaster.” Council mergers are not inherently right or wrong – this is the fifth round of council mergers in NSW since the 1970s - but the way the government set about selling them to the public and its dealings with councils was chaotic, inconsistent and disrespectful. Devious even. In the meantime, other important local government reforms – like reviewing the rates system; encouraging better council co-operation around strategic planning and service delivery; and updating the Local Government Act were pushed into the background as mergers sparked all-out war. It seemed mergers were the only game in town. Articulating the merger message Mike Baird’s success in pushing through the poles and wires sell-off to fund that state’s new infrastructure was partly because he went into the 2015 state election saying he was going to do it and he outlined the benefits of doing so for ordinary Australians. Contrast this with the flimflammery surrounding council mergers: another extremely emotive policy area. The government downplayed the subject of council mergers before the 2015 State election, vaguely indicating it would proceed with voluntary mergers and saying that it might push others.  It didn’t help that some government MPs, including Mr Toole, had signed petitions and spoken publicly against forced amalgamations in the recent past. Prof Sansom says the government should have been upfront and honest about what it wanted to do and clearly set out the benefits and objectives of wider local government reform. But the government’s narrow focus, in public at least, was on the savings it said mergers would deliver - $2 billion over 20 years – opening it up to furious disagreement from academics like University of New England’s Professor Brian Dollery at the Centre for Local Government. “By just carrying on constantly about saving a few million here and a few million there I think the government shot itself in the foot because cash savings are the hardest benefit to prove. The financial evidence base was weak,” Prof Sansom says. “And you don’t throw everything into that much turmoil for just one or two per cent savings on total government expenditure.” Instead, other community benefits should have been stressed, such as better quality services, improved metropolitan planning, more opportunities for regional development, stronger local governance, ‘tangible things that people care about’ says Sansom. The government could have spoken about giving councils more scope and more political clout at state and federal level, rather than bypassing them with new agencies like Urban Growth and the Greater Sydney Commission. “The state government is doing things that local government ought to be doing,” he says. Roberta Ryan, Professor and Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance and the Centre for Local Government at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), agrees that the NSW government got hung up on the possible cost savings of mergers, without properly articulating the advantages of broader local government reforms. “It is important that other potential reforms are explored and progressed at the same time - amalgamation is only one tool - and the NSW Inquiry outlined 60 plus other recommendations, some of which are being progress as well, so it is useful not to have the argument just focus on this one aspect,” Prof Ryan says. She says the emphasis on savings alone did not help the government’s case. “The evidence is that rates rise to the higher value and services levels also rise from the lower level to the higher level following amalgamation - so this further reduces the potential for cost savings,” says Prof Ryan. “There may well be long-run efficiencies and higher capacity for local government in the long run which can be beneficial - so the evidence of cost savings needs to be considered as part of short term and longer term arguments.” Prof Ryan says people are ‘generally 50:50’ about mergers but their perspectives can shift. People in regional and rural areas are more concerned about the negative impact of mergers, she says. 2015-2016 UTS research, Why Local Government Matters, showed resistance to mergers dropped markedly when the public interest benefits of mergers were spelt out. Providing the research to back it up and showing evidence of good process was also critical. “In the metro areas - the government has a good story to tell - it needs to get out and run the arguments - locality by locality - giving people good processes - access to evidence of the potential benefits - and explain their rationale for undertaking these reforms,” she says. Producing the evidence and sharing it was also necessary when selling mergers to the public. “This evidence then becomes part of the public debate that keeps everyone informed and prevents the exchange of ignorance on both sides - the NSW government has invested substantially in gathering this evidence - but it would benefit from communicating it more to the affected communities.” Baird et al got themselves in a pickle because the evidence for cost saving was weak and they’d made mergers all about saving money. The NSW Government was not overly forthcoming about supplying the evidence either. The KPMG report, that it says backs up its merger case, is yet to be released in its entirety. The government’s over-reliance on savings to make its case also led to jarring inconsistencies during the Fit for the Future process when some councils that were strong financially were forced to merge, while other strugglers were left to stand alone. It left the government open to charges of political opportunism and deepened public cynicism with the process. Prof Sansom says: “You’ve got to be able to explain what your strategy is and why you’re doing it and you’ve got to be consistent from one place to another. If you treat areas for no good reason differently people lose faith,” he says. Listening to ratepayers, allaying fears The government failed to listen to residents’ concerns or to come up with a plan to do anything about them, as well as not communicating a consistent merger message. The UTS survey found people were most worried about loss of local representation from creating larger councils. This came up repeatedly during merger debates but the NSW government ignored it. Instead it held hasty public hearings, sacked councillors, appointed administrators and delayed elections for newly merged councils until September 2017. Prof Sansom says Mr Baird could have considered other ideas, such as having Community Boards at ward level – as happened after the New Zealand council mergers. Larger, merged councils could also have had more councillors and wards, at least as a transition measure to reassure people that effective local representation would be maintained. “There’s this obsession with reducing the number of councillors. A notion that councillors get in the way and it’s going to be better if you have fewer of them,” he says. “The government leapt into mergers without having had that conversation about how to deal with people’s concerns about local representation.” He says: “It’s basic human psychology. You want to try to think of ways of sweetening the pill.” He argues that keeping councillors on during the transition period and appointing a transition manager would also have been the sensible thing to do, as happened with the 2008 Queensland mergers. “Instead: [the government said] we’re going to issue a proclamation and everybody is going to disappear overnight. To me, it’s hard to conceive of a process more likely to get people’s backs up than that.” An independent body and an independent process The ILGRP recommended in its 2013 Revitalising Local Government report that the merger process should be managed by a reconstituted, independent Boundaries Commission – with no current or former state politicians or councillors sitting on it - to increase the public’s faith in the decision making process. The Commission would also periodically review local government boundaries. In fact, says Prof Ryan, residents should also be involved in setting boundaries around ‘communities of interest’. This can involve looking at key factors like how people access services, schools and shopping; commuting patterns and demographic projections, combined with extensive, independent community consultation. “Otherwise the boundaries are not accepted by the community and there are political and administrative impacts for many years to come,” she says. Prof Sansom says the Panel warned the government about taking matters into its own hands in its report. “I’m more than happy to remind your readers that the ILGRP was very definitely of the view that the current legislation and process embodied in it was not going to do the job.” Another key recommendation by the ILGRP was to reduce the direct involvement of the Local Government Minister in the merger process. Local Government NSW describes the Minister as having “unfettered decision-making power” in its 2015 report, Amalgamations: To Merge or Not to Merge? Professor Sansom agrees that there is too much power vested in one person. “The problem with the Local Government Minister’s role in NSW is that it’s all powerful at both ends of the process. “You can’t get anything considered without the minister’s ticking it in the first place and you can’t get anything implemented without the minister ticking it again and having the right to tinker with the recommendations made by the Boundaries Commission. “It just means that the whole process was politicised from go to woe.” Professor Sansom says he cannot understand why politicians would want to place themselves at the centre of such a fraught process. “If you want to overcome the inevitable angst around amalgamations you have got to convince people from day one that you’re fair dinkum about it. “Being transparent and honest, being serious about exploring all the options, not just picking a few arbitrary mergers here and there. Taking councils and communities into your confidence with evidence.” The government wrote the merger proposals submitted to the Boundaries Commission and the Minister had the final say on whether mergers should or should not proceed. Prof Ryan sums it up: “If it is seen as a process of political opportunism by governments to strengthen their own political fortunes it then becomes difficult.” Checklist for state governments pursuing future council mergers 
  • Be clear and honest about your intentions from the start
  • Back them up with sufficient evidence and share this evidence
  • Engage closely with communities around what the benefits are to them
  • Listen to and act on residents’ concerns
  • Be consistent with your reasoning and apply it evenly and fairly
  • Build independence into the process, including drawing boundaries, engaging with communities and assessing proposals
[post_title] => Forced council mergers: How the NSW government got it so wrong [post_excerpt] => A litany of failures. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => forced-council-mergers-nsw-government-got-wrong [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-17 10:19:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-16 23:19:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26265 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26241 [post_author] => 667 [post_date] => 2017-02-14 10:53:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-13 23:53:49 [post_content] => The NSW Government is organising tours of LPI’s Queen Square offices for its final bidders. (Photo: J Bar)     In 2016 it was announced by the NSW Government that its land and property agency, LPI, would be split up into separate divisions and the land titles arm of the government body sold onto a private bidder. However, inquiries by concerned bodies and mainstream media have since exposed the risks involved and a resounding lack of industry support. It also emerged that the decision has very little financial viability. NSW’s Land and Property Information (LPI) is widely regarded as a world-class land titles registry, and consistently delivers a profit for the NSW Government. In fact, a recently leaked Treasury document reveals NSW’s land titles registry is annually earning at least $130 million in profit for taxpayers. The sale of the LPI, which is technically a lease for the next 35-years, is expected to be worth about $2 billion. However, based on the leaked figures, LPI could generate $2 billion profit in less than half that time.   Read more here.    This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Tensions reach breaking point in land titles sell-off [post_excerpt] => Pawning off the crown jewels? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => tensions-reach-breaking-point-land-titles-sell-off [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-14 10:53:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-13 23:53:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26241 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26103 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-01-30 15:23:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-30 04:23:06 [post_content] => NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton speaking at a 2015  anti-council merger rally in Double Bay. Pic: YouTube   Former NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole has escaped being dumped from Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Cabinet and instead been handed two new portfolios. The Bathurst MP dodged a bullet that many thought was heading straight for him and scooped up two new ministries, while relinquishing his local government role, being allocated Minister for Racing and Minister for Lands and Forestry. His position as Local Government Minister would likely have become untenable after new Nationals Leader and Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro came out publicly and said he would block some regional council amalgamations that are still hanging in the balance, something which would have clashed with Toole’s role as one of the main cheerleaders of forced council amalgamations in the former Baird government. Two of the most hotly contested merger proposals still on the table are at least partly in Mr Toole’s Bathurst electorate: the proposed union of Bathurst and Oberon Councils and a merger between Blayney, Cabonne and Orange Councils. Council mergers, along with the greyhound industry ban and hospital funding has been one of the main reasons cited for the Nationals shock loss to the Shooting Fishers and Farmers Party at the Orange by-election last year. Now removed from the rough and tumble of local government mergers, Mr Toole’s new duties as Minister for Lands and Forestry will still bring him into contact with councils, most notably through the review of Crown Lands and roads and the infrastructure backlog. Mr Toole will also need to oversee the new conditions for the greyhound racing industry following the overturned greyhound racing ban, especially in the light of recent reports alleging that dog owners are still doping their dogs. Mr Toole, who was sworn into Cabinet today (Monday), told Fairfax local newspapers that his two new portfolios reflected the concerns of people in rural and regional areas. “Forestry is quite big in rural areas, obviously, and also a strongly innovative industry and a big employer so it’s important that we keep that industry alive,” Mr Toole said. He vowed to oppose any future greyhound racing ban in NSW, as that state's Racing Minister. “Racing is very big in Bathurst with harness racing, thoroughbred racing and greyhound racing so I think I was seen as an MP that had experience with all three,” he said. Mr Toole said his three year stint as Local Government Minister had not all been about council mergers but had also been about improving the integrity and standards in local government and creating a State Borrowing Authority for councils. And what of his replacement, the incoming Local Government Minister, former Attorney General Gabrielle Upton, who has also been handed the Environment and Heritage portfolios? Ms Upton already has already had a rocky ride as far as NSW council amalgamations and the tension between her, local residents and her party goes. The Vaucluse MP spoke at an anti-council merger rally in Double Bay in October 2015 where she encouraged residents to sign a petition against the merger of Woollahra, Randwick and Waverley Councils. She told the anti-merger rally at the time: “I believe there is no perfect size for a council and what works here may not work for those that are three streets to our south. I do believe small can be effective.” “Let me be clear about my position on this issue: my position is that Woollahra Council should not be merged with other councils if it has the community support and the numbers stack up.” A few days later the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal  ruled Woollahra Council unfit for the future and recommended it be merged with its neighbours. Ms Upton got into hot water later in the year when Woollahra Mayor Toni Zeltzer arrived at Ms Upton’s office to hand her a petition against the merger, which Ms Upton refused to take, having apparently been warned not to by her party. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades welcomed Berejiklian Government's  move  to “refresh and reset” its relationship with the local government  sector and said he was looking forward to working with the new minister.    “As Member for Vaucluse, Ms Upton has previously been prepared to speak out on behalf of her constituents despite personal political risk," Mr Rhoades said. “That’s exactly what communities expect of their elected representatives – to speak up on their behalf and to act accordingly. “I previously commended the Premier on her commitment to running a government which will take more time to listen the community, and I believe this appointment is a key step towards that."   He called on the new Minister to abandon forced amalgamations everywhere and to restore local democracy. “Stop the forced mergers and send those councils who were denied elections last year to the polls in September – let the people decide how they want to proceed,” Mr Rhoades said. “The new Minister and the new Premier must be genuinely committed to a new day and a re-set and actually listening to what the people want is a pretty good start.” Ms Berejiklian’s new, expanded Cabinet – 23 ministers in all – also includes two new portfolios:  Minister for Counter Terrorism and Minister for WestConnex. Major losers in the reshuffle were Education Minister Andrew Piccoli; Roads Minister Duncan Gay (who is set to quit Parliament ‘sooner rather than later’); Disability Minister John Ajaka – who got upper house president as a consolation prize and Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who reportedly refused an alternative Cabinet role and decided to leave politics altogether. The winners included NSW Treasurer and former Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, Attorney-General Mark Speakman; Roads Minister Melinda Pavey; Early Childhood Education and Aboriginal affairs minister Sarah Mitchell; Innovation and better regulation minister Matt Kean and Niall Blair, who now has the trade and industry portfolio.   List of NSW ministers: Premier - Gladys Berejiklian MP – Premier Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales, Minister for Skills, and Minister for Small Business - (John) Giovanni Domenic Barilaro MP Treasurer, and Minister for Industrial Relations - Dominic Francis Perrottet MP  Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and Minister for Trade and Industry - Niall Mark Blair MLC   Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, Minister for the Arts, and Vice-President of the Executive Council-  Donald Thomas Harwin MLC   Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing, and Special Minister of State - Anthony John Roberts MP  Minister for Transport and Infrastructure –  Andrew James Constance MP Minister for Health, and Minister for Medical Research – Bradley Ronald Hazzard MP Minister for Education – Robert Gordon Stokes MP Attorney General – Mark Raymond Speakman SC MP Minister for Police, and Minister for Emergency Services -  Troy Wayne Grant MP  Minister for Finance, Services and Property -  Victor Michael Dominello MP Minister for Family and Community Services, Minister for Social Housing, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault -  Prudence Jane Goward MP  Minister for Lands and Forestry, and Minister for Racing -  Paul Lawrence Toole MP   Minister for Counter Terrorism, Minister for Corrections, and Minister for Veterans Affairs – David Andrew Elliott MP  Minister for the Environment, Minister for Local Government, and Minister for Heritage - Gabrielle Cecilia Upton MP  Minister for Western Sydney, Minister for WestConnex, and Minister for Sport –  Stuart Laurence Ayres MP Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight – Melinda Jane Pavey MP Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation – Matthew John Kean MP Minister for Tourism and Major Events, and Assistant Minister for Skills - Adam John Marshall MP  Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Women, and Minister for Ageing – Tanya Davies MP Minister for Early Childhood Education, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and Assistant Minister for Education - Sarah Mitchell MLC  Minister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Disability Services -  Raymond Craig Williams MP  Parliamentary office holders  President of the Legislative Council (elect) – John Ajaka MLC Speaker of the Legislative Assembly –  Shelley Elizabeth Hancock MP Deputy President and Chair of Committees – Trevor John Khan MLC Deputy Speaker – Thomas George MP Assistant Speaker – Mr Andrew Raymond Gordon Fraser MP Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council –  Donald Thomas Harwin MLC Leader of the House – Anthony John Roberts MP Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council – Niall Mark Blair MLC Government Whip – Mr Christopher Stewart Patterson MP Government Whip in the Legislative Council –  Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC [post_title] => Upton takes Local Government, Toole reincarnated in NSW cabinet [post_excerpt] => Full list of NSW Ministers. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26103 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-30 16:35:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-30 05:35:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26103 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26070 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-01-24 13:47:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-24 02:47:37 [post_content] => The Observer Hotel in the Rocks was one beneficiary of the lockout laws extension.     By Andy Young The NSW Government has revealed the first live entertainment venues that will have time extensions to the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross lockout and last drinks laws. Deputy Secretary for Liquor, Gaming and Emergency Management at the NSW Department of Justice, Paul Newson, said CBD venues the Palace Hotel, Observer Hotel and ArtHouse Hotel can now admit patrons until 2am and serve drinks until 3.30am. “We expect to announce more venues soon, with Liquor & Gaming NSW assessing a further 13 applications for the 30-minute extensions to lockouts and last drinks times,” Newson said. “As venues have only been able to apply since late December and this is a busy time of year, more applications are expected in the next few weeks. Industry feedback suggests up to 50 venues could take advantage of the relaxed lockout and last drinks times.   Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout.  [post_title] => First lockout extension venues revealed [post_excerpt] => Later last drinks for some. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26070 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-24 13:47:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-24 02:47:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26070 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25947 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-01-09 16:14:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-09 05:14:28 [post_content] => gladys-berejiklian-and-mike-baird2_opt Berejiklian and Baird: Free marketeers or affordable housing warriors? Pic: Facebook.      The NSW Opposition has accused Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian of being ‘free marketeers’ who don’t care about affordable housing after proposals to overhaul the state’s planning laws were announced yesterday (Sunday). NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes put a raft of proposals out to public consultation, which he said would help speed up development applications (DAs) and tackle the state’s serious housing shortage. But NSW Labor says the changes represent only minor tinkering with the planning system and ignore the major policy levers that need to be pulled to address housing affordability. The changes put forward for public consultation involve amending the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Changes include: • New powers for the Planning Minister to impose independent planning panels on councils that stall on big DAs • Widening the definition of ‘complying development’ to include greenfield development and terrace housing, not just one or two-storey dwellings • New powers for the Planning Department to intervene if a government agency is dithering over residential approvals • Standardising the format of councils’ development control plans so they’re easier to read and navigate • Giving developers incentives to address objections from communities before lodging DAs • Simplifying building provisions for developers • Making planning agreements between developers and councils more consistent and transparent • Council planning staff or local planning panels to decide more DAs, councillors to concentrate more on strategic planning • Making community participation plans compulsory for planning authorities   Shadow Planning Minister Michael Daley disparaged the proposed planning amendments today as “modest measures” dressed up as help for first home buyers and called them inoffensive but bland. “There’s nothing in these provisions that will ease the housing affordability crisis,” Mr Daley said. “There’s no provision in any of these amendments that will give joy or hope to first home buyers in NSW. What they aim to do is to ease some of the red tape.” He said the amendments would not help developers convert development approvals into completions and the Baird government should concentrate instead on agitating for negative gearing to be wound back federally while introducing rezoning and affordable housing targets at state level to prevent first home buyers from being consistently outgunned by cashed-up investors. “Malcolm Turnbull is wrong when he says that it’s red tape at the council level that’s holding housing affordability up,” Mr Daley said. He also accused Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian of being “free marketeers” and not genuinely caring about affordable housing. “We’re calling on Mike Baird to get on the phone today and to scream at Malcolm Turnbull and demand some reform to negative gearing,” Mr Daley said. “It’s the big lever at the federal level and at the state level inclusion rezoning [targets] and affordable rental housing targets. They’re the things we’re screaming about.” He said that last year 75,000 DAs were approved but just over 30,000 were built and quoted Mr Stokes as saying that 40,000 new homes needed to be built every year, just to keep up with domestic demand. The NSW government’s planning law shake-up has also drawn fire from the peak body for the state’s local councils, Local Government NSW (LGNSW), which said that widening the definition of complying development could clear the way for medium density development without community input, leaving it in the hands of private certifiers. LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said the state was “crying out for major planning reform” but feared some of the government’s reforms would give developers carte blanche to replace single houses with multiple townhouses. “Local government is concerned about the proposal to expand complying development to riskier, larger-scale development which could completely change the character of a local area,” Mr Rhoades said. “We welcome the government’s plans to address some existing issues with complying development, like requiring developers to pay a compliance levy and strengthening enforcement powers to manage illegal work, but we don’t support expanding this model to larger-scale development.” Mr Rhoades said there would be too much power concentrated in the hands of private certifiers. “We’re concerned because certification doesn’t allow neighbours to have any real say. They find out the hard way: they get two letters before the bulldozers turn up next door,” he said. The NSW government was originally intending to mandate local planning panels, a move vociferously opposed by NSW councils. Although, the government has backed away from this, it wants to retain the power to impose local panels on councils where necessary, something LGNSW is concerned about because it views the criteria for intervention as unclear. Mr Rhoades said councils supported having more community consultation at the front end of strategic planning but cautioned that this should not come at the cost of community input on a practical level, where local developments affected neighbours. “We would like to see an independent process that respects the importance of local plans in giving life to the community and government’s big picture, with less interference on local details that are so important to communities, such as the protection of local amenity and character,” he said. “The Planning Minister has been very good on the consultation front with councils so far, and we welcome his commitment to work with us on the details.” Meanwhile Mr Stokes said the proposed amendments would increase local participation in planning and make it easier to build new homes. He said NSW Treasury had estimated that there was pent up demand for up to 100,000 new homes. The NSW government has forecast that 725,000 new homes will be needed by 2036 to house an extra 1.7 million residents. “The NSW government is determined to do everything it can, including making the planning system more efficient to ensure housing supply gets to homebuyers fast,” Mr Stokes said. The proposals are on public exhibition until March 10. [post_title] => Baird and Berejiklian: ‘Free marketeers who don’t care about affordable housing’? [post_excerpt] => Rebuilding the NSW planning system. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => baird-berejiklian-free-marketeers-dont-care-affordable-housing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-10 11:42:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-10 00:42:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25947 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25916 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-21 09:42:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 22:42:21 [post_content] => emu-plains-correctional-centre-supplied Emu Plains Correctional Centre.    The Baird government has backed down on building a pop-up prison for maximum security inmates in Western Sydney, after strong local opposition to the plans. NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott announced today (Wednesday) that the new quick-build prison for 400 inmates, which was to be built next to the 200-bed women’s prison at Emu Plains Correctional Centre, would not be going ahead. The NSW prison population is at record levels and the government is scrambling to deal with the crisis. A spokesperson for Mr Elliott said the NSW government had received a hydrologist’s report which indicated that the site, which is on a flood plain, was at risk of flooding. Mr Elliott said: “I have heard community concerns about the proposed expansion and updated flood modelling provided to Justice Infrastructure shows that the flooding risk with the proposed increase in capacity could not be fully addressed at the site. “We are continuing to look at additional sites to increase capacity in the NSW correctional system.” He said Emu Plains was chosen for expansion because it was a large open site within the Sydney metropolitan region and would have brought more than 400 new jobs to the local economy. Mr Elliott said the NSW Government would invest $3.8 billion over four years to provide about 7,000 additional beds across the state to cope with NSW’s increasing prisoner population. Shadow Minister for Corrections Guy Zangari said the government had been forced into an “embarrassing backflip” because it had failed to consult properly with residents or with its own planning department. Mr Zangari said the prison would have been built close to an area surrounded by houses, schools and a train station. “The community is outraged that they were never consulted about this pop-up prison. Now Minister Elliott has been forced into back-flipping on a flimsy plan that lacked detail about keeping nearby residents safe,” Mr Zangari said. “It took a community backlash to make the minister see sense and ditch this idea. It just goes to show how out of touch he is.” Mr Zangari blamed the Baird Government for creating “the worst prison bed crisis” in the state's history. He said 1700 inmates were expected to come into prison corrections next year but only 900 new beds.   [post_title] => NSW government shelves pop-up prison after community backlash [post_excerpt] => Emu Plains site a no-go. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-government-shelves-pop-prison-community-backlash [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-21 10:12:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 23:12:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25916 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23502 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 16:42:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:42:12 [post_content] => Census3   Plans to retain people’s names and addresses for this year’s Census have sparked fear that the information could be used by Centrelink, the Tax Office and ASIO and may lead to mass civil disobedience or people lying on their forms, privacy groups believe. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which has been around since 1905, conducts a Census every five years on the second Tuesday in August. While this has always involved collecting names and addresses, the difference is that this time it wants to hold on to all of this information. The Agency has said it wants to be able to combine Census data with other datasets, such as health and education statistics, to get a “richer and dynamic statistical picture of Australia.” Statisticians argue this could provide insights into many areas, for example, the employment outcomes of different educational programs or designing mental health services, and result in better service planning and delivery. Keeping names and addresses would also make surveys more efficient and reduce the cost and burden on Australian households, said the ABS. But Jon Lawrence from the Electronic Frontiers Australia said retaining such information was unwarranted and intrusive and “an exceptionally bad idea.” “At its very essence, it’s a massive invasion of the privacy of every Australian,” Mr Lawrence said. He said it could be used by successive governments to pursue Australians over Centrelink or tax misdemeanours or to investigate suspicions of terrorism or other criminal activity. “Once it’s there, the scope of these things tends to increase, data matching with the ATO and Centrelink. I don’t see any justification as to why these changes have been made.” Mr Lawrence said ASIO would love to get their hands on such a comprehensive dataset. For example, they could use it to identify Muslims and pinpoint where they lived. The most serious repercussions would be felt if people refuse to complete the survey or lie on their forms, leading to a dramatic drop in the quality and coverage of Census data, he said. "The biggest risk is that people will actually write rubbish. We have seen quite a lot of angst already and we haven’t really even started the campaign. This is just starting to get mainstream coverage and I think there’s a genuine issue there.” ABS statistician David Kalisch has insisted the Agency has never - and never will - release identifiable Census data. He said names and addresses will be stored securely and separately from other Census data. Despite these assurances, Mr Lawrence believes Census data is so detailed that people could be re-identified. “De-identification is a furphy,” Mr Lawrence said. “You can still do it in many circumstances. The reality is that people will be able to be identified by certain bits of Census data is very, very real (and) that information can be used.” Anna Johnston from Salinger Privacy, who is also a former NSW Deputy Privacy Commissioner, believes the ABS cannot give a cast-iron assurance that the data won’t be misused. In her blog for Salinger Privacy, Ms Johnston said opportunistic hackers, organised criminals, ABS staff or just negligence and human error could leak damaging, highly personal information and make fraud and identify theft a risk. “Seeking to justify the proposal by saying that the ABS will never release identifiable information ignores the point that they shouldn’t have it in the first place,” Ms Johnston said. “And, as my mother taught me – you shouldn’t make promises you cannot keep. “This is the greatest potential impact of the proposal – that the ABS becomes the unwitting tool of a government intent on mass population surveillance.” Ms Johnston said the agency’s own 2006 privacy review had identified the danger of “function creep”, where stored information is used more broadly than for the purpose it was originally intended. “The statisticians must be living in fantasy land if they think that once they hold identifiable data on all 24 million people in Australia, that not a single government department, minister or police force will be interested in tapping into that data for their own, non-research purposes,” she said. “Just look at the agencies queueing up to get their hands on the metadata that telecommunications companies must now keep by law.” She said it would give the government “a rich and deep picture of every Australian’s life, in an identifiable form.” A backlash has already begun on the agency's Facebook page. Andrew Graham said: "Australian Bureau of Statistics ... If you think I'm writing my personal data on the 2016 census, you can kindly shove it." Marc Zanin told the ABS: No matter what the govt of the day's says, they do NOT need this identifying information. They can't be given any chance of using it against their population. This is a nightmare for the ABS!!! A disaster! "If you lose the trust of the populace who can't fill it out, because it's just too scary, then why not return to the previous model? Please? It's a total and absolute FAIL, FAIL, FAIL for the ABS." For its part, the ABS has said data privacy is a “fundamental pillar of an official statistical system” and that function creep was highly unlikely: “In Australia these protections have existed since the foundation of the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1905. This will not change.” The Agency said that names and addresses will be removed from personal and household Census information after data collection and processing and stored separately. Statisticians will not be able to match Census answers with the person they were from. Proposals were floated last year to make the Census every decade, rather than every five years, as already happens in countries such as the US, the UK and most European countries. The Abbott government also had a discussion about abolishing the Census entirely in favour of data sampling, which would be much cheaper. The Census is an expensive undertaking. ABS statistician Mr Kalisch said the 2011 survey of every household cost $400 million to produce and employed 43,000 temporary workers. The Australian Bureau of Statistics was contacted for comment. [post_title] => Best of 2016: Centrelink, the Tax Office and ASIO could use Census 2016 data: privacy groups [post_excerpt] => Mass Census boycott possible. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => centrelink-the-tax-office-and-asio-could-use-census-2016-data-privacy-groups [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 16:43:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:43:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23502 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26947 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-20 04:00:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 18:00:25 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_26950" align="alignnone" width="350"] Is the party over for Airbnb in NSW before it even began? NSW government says slow down. [/caption]     After three public hearings, 212 submissions and a parliamentary report the NSW government has announced it is not yet ready to make a decision about how to regulate short-term holiday letting through online booking services like Airbnb and Stayz. Instead, the NSW government will conduct a ‘broad consultation’ with the public and the short-term accommodation industry, including bed and breakfasts and hotels, before publishing an options paper next month. The options paper, which the Departments of Planning and Environment and Fair Trading will also contribute to, will explore land use and planning issues and strata management concerns, including the impact on the lives and safety of existing residents. This morning’s announcement (Thursday) was in response to an October 2016 report by the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment on the best way to regulate the explosion of short-term accommodation letting and the continued rise of Airbnb in the state. The report recommended the government make it easier for homeowners to rent out a whole or part of their house and for it to adopt a light regulatory touch. This approach included relaxing state planning laws so that local councils could class short-term letting as exempt development, providing it did not have excessive impact on other residents. But the government offered only ‘qualified support’ to the committee’s recommendations, stating they needed further consideration and more public consultation. It has been slow going. After submissions closed in November 2015 there were three public hearings between March and May 2016 followed by the final report on October 19, 2016 and the government’s response six months later. NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said it was too complicated and divisive an issue to rush. “It’s no surprise that NSW and Sydney are highly sought after destinations for international and domestic visitors, however, we must find a balance between providing options for accommodation and residents being able to go about their daily lives. This will support the best environment for residents and visitors so that it is a great destination,” Mr Roberts said.  “The inquiry recommendations make sense, but the regulation of short-term letting needs broader engagement with the industry and the community to establish a model that enables it to continue to flourish and innovate whilst ensuring the amenity and safety of users and the wider community are protected.   “It's sensible to take time on a complex issue like this, which is why we are releasing an options paper next month.” The government supported the report’s recommendations around communicating with councils and residents any changes and that councils take the lead on informing landowners about their rights and duties. Also supported was giving owners’ corporations more powers to respond to any negative consequences of short-term lets in their buildings, through amending strata regulations. NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said the government would concentrate on finding common ground to address the concerns of everyone involved. “We need to find what will work best for the people of NSW, which is why we’re issuing an options paper for discussion with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Kean said.  “We don’t want a holiday accommodation market that’s so over-regulated it puts people off coming here but the rights of residents who live near these properties must be considered too.    “While short-term holiday letting, if properly managed and respected by all parties, can be a boost to the local economy, the need to protect people’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own homes is equally important.”     Meanwhile, Airbnb Australia Country Manager Sam McDonagh called the government's response a 'strong, positive step towards ensuring fair and progressive rules and regulation for residents and visitors to NSW'. “We appreciate that these things take time and that it’s important to get the balance right," Mr McDonagh said. "We’re confident that Premier Berejiklian and the NSW government will join the state governments in Tasmania and South Australia, in embracing home sharing, and introduce fair regulations that allow more people in NSW to share their extra space.”   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => NSW government delays Airbnb decision [post_excerpt] => Options paper by next month. 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Planning