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                    [post_date] => 2017-06-23 13:30:41
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                    [post_content] => 
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announcing the 2017 NSW Budget. Pic:YouTube. 

 

 

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has sprinkled some of his budgetary largesse on local councils and stumped up billions for infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, bike paths and sports facilities and set up a new fund to kickstart a regional economic renaissance in the state.

Mr Perrottet’s first budget was fuelled by a $4.5 billion surplus with coffers swollen from the NSW property boom and a major asset sell-off and local government will be more than pleased to rake in some of the spoils gained from stamp duty and the polls and wires sell off.

For the Budget NSW overview click here.

A new $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund has been established, focusing on lifting regional economic growth.

There are six funds, including strands for infrastructure; sports facilities; improving voice and data connectivity; upgrades to parks, community centres and playgrounds and building and upgrading arts and cultural venues.

Another strand also deals specifically with investing in infrastructure for mining communities.

Councils, industry, regional organisations and community groups can apply to the funds, which tie in with the NSW government’s 30-year Regional Development Framework.

Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said the announcement was a positive one for the regions.

"LGNSW looks forward to more information from the Deputy Premier's office on how this funding will be allocated and the opportunities for our sector, but overall this looks like very good news for regional communities.

"This goes to show that the government does listen when the community speaks, and particularly so when they make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

Central Coast Council Administrator, Ian Reynolds, said as he was particularly pleased with the promise to allocate 30 percent of infrastructure spending to the regions.

“The $6 billion injection is significant and recognises that regions like the coast are attracting more people who are looking for a better lifestyle away from the big cities and require improved infrastructure to meet their growing needs,” Mr Reynolds.

“Roads are a key priority for council because our community wants better roads and it is pleasing to see such a significant injection by the state government into roads here on the coast.”

The regions also won another victory, with the government allocating $100 million for palliative care services and staff training, with much of this expected to flow to rural areas where there have been complaints about the dearth of services available.

In addition, the government will spend $258 million on supporting and regulating local government through the Office of Local Government, including $2.1 million to optimise the Companion Animals Register and Pet Registry to improve user experience and enhance functionality.

But it is not simply a one-way street with all give and no take.

Local councils will feel the heat from Mr Perrottet’s push to accelerate house building in the state, including 30,000 new homes in priority precincts in Sydney.

The NSW government will spend almost $70 million to speed up major development approvals and help councils rezone land quicker, including $19 million to establish a specialist team to rezone and to help councils accelerate rezonings.

Also in the budget is $11.8 million for online, cloud-based housing development applications, especially to help regional councils and small metropolitan councils with low capability.

Other key budget points 
  • $4.2 billion over four years for education infrastructure, including building new schools and upgrading others
  • A cash injection of $7.7 billion over four years for new hospitals and hospital upgrades
  • Public transport, road building and rail gets $73 billion, including WestConnex, Sydney Metro City rail line and the Pacific Highway upgrade
  • Spending $20.1 million to complete the Service NSW network of service centres by transitioning 24 motor registries in regional and rural communities to Service NSW service centres.
  • Art Gallery of NSW expansion worth $244 million
  • A $1.2 billion package for first home buyers, including stamp duty relief and heavier foreign investor charges
  • $63.2 million to improve child protection, including additional caseworkers, case managers, and case support workers
[post_title] => NSW Budget: the impact on local councils [post_excerpt] => Win for the regions. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-budget-impact-local-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-23 13:36:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:36:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27454 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27469 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-23 13:00:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:00:48 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27470" align="alignnone" width="300"] Luke Foley delivering his Budget reply. Photo courtesy of the ABC.[/caption] NSW opposition leader Luke Foley has outlined the Labor Opposition’s reply to the NSW Government’s 2017 Budget, focusing on education, electricity and renewable energy, infrastructure and regional NSW. Education and school funding Mr Foley said a Labor Government would have a school building program that will ensure unused public land goes towards school infrastructure. This will be achieved by the Greater Sydney Commission being given the power to seize surplus government land from other departments and agencies for much-needed schools. Labor will also legislate that every new school built includes childcare or before and after school care facilities on-site. This will help achieve the pledge that every child will have access to at least 15 hours of “affordable preschool education per week, in the year before school”. As well, every primary school student in NSW will be taught a second language. For the youth, Labor announced a jobs scheme for the state’s apprentices and trainees. It estimates the scheme will create thousands of jobs for young people every year. Mr Foley said 63,000 fewer students have enrolled in TAFE after the Coalition Government cut budgets, identified campuses in regional and rural areas for sale or closure and started sacking teachers and support staff. Another 500 were terminated this year, bringing the total to 5,700 since the Liberals and Nationals got their hands on TAFE. He committed a Labor Government would require 15 per cent of all jobs on NSW Government construction projects, valued over $500,000, to be allocated for apprentices/trainees, indigenous people and the long term unemployed. He also committed Labor to re-build TAFE, by guarantee at least 70 per cent of NSW vocational education and training funding going to TAFE. Electricity and renewable energy Mr Foley said a Labor government would re-regulate the electricity market to attempt to lower the price of power in NSW, which has approximately doubled since it was deregulated and bills “are set to increase annually by an average of $300 for residential and $900 for commercial users a year.  He said Labor would also use proceeds from the transfer of the Snowy Hydro to invest in renewable generation across regional NSW, set a minimum solar tariff for households with rooftop solar to be paid for the power they generate, and “massively increase solar energy generation on the rooftops of government buildings”. Infrastructure With Sydney public transport and roads, Labor would prioritise the Western Sydney Metro over the Northern Beaches tunnel. Mr Foley committed to the Western Sydney Metro following the current government specifically excluding in the Budget the fast rail link in favour of the Northern Beaches Tunnel. With the Badgery’s Creek airport, Labor has called for the creation of a joint Commonwealth-New South Wales Western Sydney Airport Co-ordination Authority to coordinate land use and surface infrastructure. The authority would focus on essential connections such as electricity, water and sewerage for the airport’s surrounding employment zones. Labor would also like to see the building of a rail connection from day one so people can get where they’re going and avoid congestion on the roads. A fuel pipeline corridor – similar to the underground pipeline from Kurnell to Sydney Airport – also  needs to be reserved and construction of it accelerated as the current plan to supply jet fuel by road will not be sustainable. Regional NSW Luke Foley has laid out his commitments to regional and rural NSW if elected in 2019, including that 100 per cent of the proceeds of a Snowy Hydro sale will be spent on regional infrastructure. He said Labor’s support for selling the state’s share of the Snowy Hydro scheme to the Federal Government is conditional on the proceeds being spent in regional NSW. The sale would also be on the conditional guarantee of ongoing public ownership of the Hydro. All of the $4 to $5 billion in proceeds would be used to improve regional schools, TAFE, hospitals, roads, energy, water, cultural and sporting infrastructure, he said. Mr Foley promised to continue visiting the regions to hear directly from local communities. Recently, Mr Foley travelled to the North Coast, Monaro, the Upper Hunter and this time last year visited Menindee Lakes as part of two-day tour of Broken Hill. Special treatment for Far West NSW, where regional town populations are falling and businesses are unable to attract and retain staff, would include abolishing payroll tax for all small and medium-sized businesses in the Far West. In the Illawarra, Labor promised to assist the steel industry, and upgrade to the WIN Entertainment Centre.   [post_title] => NSW Budget: the reply [post_excerpt] => NSW opposition leader Luke Foley has outlined his reply to the Government’s 2017 Budget. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-budget-reply [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-23 13:33:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:33:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27469 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27463 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-23 10:36:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-23 00:36:19 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27464" align="alignnone" width="300"] Department of Defence photo from the Royal Australian Air Force taken during Exercise Diamond Storm.[/caption] Department of Defence staff will have a new enterprise agreement after three years of negotiations, with staff voting on a deal that improved on the three previously rejected offers, with more rights protected. These include:
  • Comprehensive Terms of Reference for the National Workplace Relations Committee (NWRC), which includes representation rights for members and workplace delegates, and dispute escalation and settlement protocols;
  • The application of enforceable policy and process in areas of the agreement that cover situations where members’ jobs may be at risk, such as performance management and excess declaration; and
  • A proper performance management process written into the agreement.
The ballot saw 61% voting Yes to the agreement. 84% of eligible staff participated, in the first Defence ballot since December last year. Defence is one of several major agencies voting in June, with Agriculture staff also approving a new deal earlier this week and ballots soon in the Tax Office, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and CSIRO. CSIRO staff have also narrowly voted to approve a new enterprise agreement, with their reluctance underlining the importance and difficulty management faces in rebuilding trust in the organisation. The agreement was secured with a 57.74% Yes vote. The ballot closed late on Thursday night, with 77% of eligible CSIRO staff participating. CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “Defence staff have finally voted up a new agreement, albeit reluctantly. This deal is a real improvement on those they’ve previously rejected but it’s far from perfect and also massively unfair that they're copping a three-year plus pay freeze.” The deal includes a 6% pay rise over the three-year term of the agreement. The deal has been negotiated on a single-agency basis, as are the other public service agreements. This despite calls for single-agency negotiations to be discontinued by former public service commissioner Andrew Podger, currently a professor at the Australian National University, who was the public service commissioner between 2002 and 2004. As reported in Government News (Dump single agency bargaining in the APS, says former Public Service Commissioner), Professor Podger said single agency bargaining has had serious, negative consequences for the public service which have outweighed the promised benefits, chiefly around flexibility. “This has caused very serious damage to the integrity of the whole pay system in the Public Service with tangible impact on mobility within the service, serious management problems for agencies affected by machinery of government changes, justified complaints of unfairness across and within agencies, and unknown impacts on attraction and retention of the skills the APS requires,” Prof Podger told the 2016 senate inquiry into APS bargaining. Prof Podger said single agency negotiations have created pay disparities for similar jobs  in different departments and agencies and has also damaged staff morale and caused resentment. “What’s happened is they’ve all gone their different ways and none of them have been able to focus on the market,” says Prof Podger. “Strict central rules led to different pay rates, not because they are useful but because they are forced to be there.” [post_title] => Defence, CSIRO to finally get a pay rise [post_excerpt] => Department of Defence staff will get a pay rise after three years of negotiations. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => defence-finally-get-pay-rise [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-23 11:11:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-23 01:11:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27463 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27440 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-20 10:19:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-20 00:19:51 [post_content] => A group of Australia’s largest waste management companies are calling for the NSW container deposit scheme (CDS) to be delayed seven months so it can start on the same day as the Queensland CDS on July 1, 2018. The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC), whose five foundation members are Veolia, JJ Richards, Cleanaway, Remondis and Suez, last week voted to lobby the NSW government to delay the NSW scheme. The NWRIC says the proposed state-wide network of more than 450 collection points that the government has asked network operators to set up is incomplete. The network could face further delays as some collection points need development applications and work on safety and traffic management. The industry group argues that the scheme is not yet ready to be rolled out as scheduled by the NSW government on December 1 and says that pushing ahead with it this year could end in tears. NWRIC CEO Max Spedding said there were several issues yet to be properly thrashed out and the rules around the scheme had been released only six months ago. “The industry feels that the scheme is under done and a bit rushed. We’re concerned that there are still these unknowns that would like to see resolved earlier rather than later,” Mr Spedding said. The issues included: awarding tenders; negotiations between local councils and industry about the ownership of deposit containers; achieving clarity around payment for containers (especially because of new regulations specifying that scrap steel trading must be cashless) and a final decision on which containers are eligible for refunds. “The scheme may commence with sub-standard collection infrastructure and poorly implemented systems. Fraud may occur. This could undermine public confidence in this scheme and the industry more broadly,” he warned. He said operators could pull out if the CDS did not work for them, especially if there was a lack of collection points that made the scheme unviable. Another concern is that by starting the NSW container deposit scheme earlier than Queensland containers are stockpiled or transported across the border to NSW. “This is always a risk where there are cross-jurisdictional market distortions,” Mr Spedding said. “It is industry’s experience that where money can be made by transporting waste, businesses are set up. More than half a million tonnes currently moves between NSW and Queensland to avoid levies.” NWRIC Chairman Phil Richards said regulators were already working to harmonise the rules of both the NSW and Queensland container deposit schemes, so it seemed natural to harmonise their start dates. “By delaying the start date of the NSW CDS by only seven months - to July 1, 2018 - both NSW and Queensland can prevent cross border transport of beverage containers and stockpiling issues,” Mr Richards said. “CDS programs are complex, so it is also important that adequate time is given to network operators to establish collection and administration systems. These systems are needed to reduce disruption and deliver a high quality service to the public.”   But Mr Spedding said the NSW Environmental Protection Authority was adamant that the scheme would start by December at a meeting last week with major players, operators and processors, despite their protestations. Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel shares Mr Spedding’s concerns and agrees the scheme is unlikely to be postponed. “There has already been one extension and it looks extremely unlikely will be granted,” he said. “There will always be problems with any start date and while NSW has left a relatively short period for the roll-out of the infrastructure [collection points and depots] I think all the stakeholders have to work as fast and as constructively as possible.” Mr Angel said the Alliance still had concerns over whether there would be enough collection points and depots to ensure it was convenient for people to take part in the scheme. Under the NSW CDS people can hand in most empty drink containers of between 150 millilitres to 3 litres and receive a 10c refund at a collection depot or reverse vending machine. Exceptions include milk and flavoured milk containers, casks, juice containers and glass containers for wines and spirits. [post_title] => NSW and QLD container deposit schemes should both start in 2018, says waste industry [post_excerpt] => Scheme could fail if rushed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-qld-container-deposit-schemes-start-2018-says-waste-industry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 10:19:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-20 00:19:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27440 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27435 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-20 09:46:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-19 23:46:27 [post_content] => The government has succeeded in securing an industry funding model for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), with the ASIC Supervisory Cost Recovery Levy Bill 2017 and related bills passing through the Senate. The industry funding model will deliver ASIC an additional $127.2 million funding package, which the government says “will significantly enhance data analytics and surveillance capabilities and facilitate proactive enforcement” – in short, more people and stronger powers. ASIC has welcomed the passage of legislation enabling a more secure and accountable funding of the model for regulation of the Australian corporate sector, indicating an increase in its specialist officer numbers overlooking the financial industry. Effective from 1 July 2017, ASIC’s regulatory costs will be recovered from all industry sectors regulated by ASIC through annual levies. The total figure mentioned in the Government’s White Paper was at the $240 million mark for the coming financial year, with the top five banks accounting for approximately half of the levy. ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft welcomed the legislation's passage, and highlighted the fact it enjoyed widespread support across the political spectrum. “This is an important milestone not just for ASIC, but also for the companies and wider corporate sector that we regulate,” he said. “Industry funding, in one form or another, applies to other areas of public oversight in Australia and in many comparable economies around the world. Not only will the different elements of the broad business sector more fairly share the load, but the taxpaying public will benefit through the more accountable use of the funds provided for the task.” ASIC has gone through a few years of upheaval in terms of its staff numbers, reportedly losing 80 in 2011 and a further 230 following Tony Abbott’s budget cut in 2014. Whilst ASIC had its personnel numbers largely restored once its $120 budget cut was restored last year, the regulatory burden of the financial market will require it to add further to its financial specialist team. The increased total revenue will also allow the regulator to boost its numbers in other areas of responsibility. The industry funding model is in large part a response to the recommendations of the 2014 Murray Financial System Inquiry and the 2013 Senate Inquiry into ASIC’s performance, both of which were largely critical of the organisation’s ability to respond effectively due to it having “limited powers and resources”.         [post_title] => ASIC to collect its revenue direct from industry [post_excerpt] => The ASIC Supervisory Cost Recovery Levy Bill 2017 and related bills have passed through the Senate. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => asic-collect-revenue-direct-industry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-22 13:17:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-22 03:17:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27435 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27429 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-19 12:45:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-19 02:45:11 [post_content] =>   A senior public official from Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) executed an elaborate deception to employ her two sons by encouraging them to change their names and falsify their CVs. The Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass’ report into the scam, released today [Monday], uncovered a case of naked nepotism within the metropolitan Melbourne fire service that she said had cost the public more than $400,000 over a number of years.     The MFB’s Chief Information Officer, Mary Powderly-Hughes, hid her relationship to her son, David Hewson, when she hired him in July 2014. She employed her other son, Barry Robinson, two years’ later to backfill Mr Hewson’s position after she handing him a permanent role as the Manager of IT Administration, Finance, Procurement and Projects. Leaving nothing to chance, Ms Powderly-Hughes typed her sons CVs, faked their employment history and told them the interview questions beforehand. She also pretended to carry out reference checks after interviewing them. To make doubly sure her second son got over the line for a procurement manager role, Mrs Powderly-Hughes ‘interviewed’ Mr Robinson at her home and drilled him in IT finance packages, despite him being woefully underqualified for the role and ordinarily working as a motor mechanic. The three were sprung after a whistleblower reported their concerns to the Ombudsman. “I have my suspicions that Mary Powderly Hughes has hired her son, or family member, or someone with a very close connection and I think she’s manipulated things to make sure he got the job when it became permanent. When he was a contractor he quickly got a rate rise, which is quite rare for most people,” the manager told Ms Glass. The Ombudsman investigated the tangled web the trio had weaved using social media and official records. Officers matched Mr Hewson’s mobile phone number listed on his MFB emails with his role as Treasurer of the local cricket club. They then matched his personal email address with a Facebook account for a Mr Hughes, which revealed the suburb he lived in, the same as the cricket club. The Victorian Electoral roll listed a David Patrick Powderly-Hughes in the same suburb. Mr Hughes Facebook account also showed he had previously worked for Parks Victoria, which Mrs Powderly Hughes had also listed in her past jobs on her LinkedIn account. A search of the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages showed that the men were her sons and had both changed their names a few weeks’ before starting work at MFB. Ms Glass said the case was an egregious example of self-interest. “Some cases I have investigated over the years seem so unlikely you could not make them up. Except, as in this case, they did,” Ms Glass said. “The facts of the case are that a senior public official at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade hired her son, not declaring the relationship, having falsified his CV and coached him prior to interview, three weeks after he changed his name to conceal the relationship.  “After giving him a pay rise and moving him into a permanent role, she then hired her second son, also falsifying his CV and “interviewing” him at her home after he, too, had changed his name to conceal the relationship,” said Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.  Ms Glass said she had rarely come across such blatant and calculated behaviour. “Often the cases are minor, although wrong. Not this time, this was a case of deception where the family nest was feathered, plain and simple.”  Unsurprisingly, all three have left MFB since the investigation blew up. Ms Powderly-Hughes resigned on the day of her interview with the Ombudsman and both of her sons have since been sacked. Ms Glass said cases were often difficult to detect and she underlined the importance of colleagues raising the alarm if they saw anything suspicious going on at work. “The case also serves as a salient reminder of the importance of disclosers acting on suspicion that something is awry in their workplace. More often than not, as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire.” She said that while the agency could not be held responsible for the deception perpetrated upon it in this case it needed to beef up its conflict of interest policies. [post_title] => Senior public official secretly employs sons after name changes and doctored CVs [post_excerpt] => Pretend reference checks and pay rises for the family. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senior-public-official-secretly-employs-sons-change-names-falsify-cvs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-19 14:22:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-19 04:22:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27429 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27369 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 12:00:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 02:00:08 [post_content] =>   By Charles Pauka CASE builds the machines for the long haul. And as councils typically keep their plant and equipment for 8+ years, they can rest assured knowing that their CASE machine will not only perform for its first life with Council, but continue to perform through its 2nd and 3rd lives once replaced and sold to a new owner. For performance, reliability and resale value, councils around Australia continue to place their trust in CASE equipment – again and again. Founded in 1842, CASE Construction Equipment has over the last 175 years built a reputation as a leading and respected global manufacturer of construction equipment. Today, CASE offers a full line of equipment with over 90 different models around the world, including heavy excavators, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, skid-steer loaders, mini excavators, and backhoe loaders. CASE equipment and technologies deliver productivity, efficiency, fuel economy and cost-effectiveness to the benefit of its customers’ bottom line. CASE innovates to design equipment that is intuitive and straightforward to use so that operators maximise their productivity. GovernmentNews.com.au would like to congratulate CASE Construction Equipment on its 175 years of building productivity, and to celebrate, you can view a comprehensive and informative guide to CASE’s history, products and capabilities by clicking on this link. Government agencies and contractors need access to a full line of equipment, including heavy excavators, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, skid-steer loaders, mini excavators, and backhoe loaders, for maximum productivity and fast results. Read on to find out where to get your hands on the best equipment and back-up in Australia today. Full report here.    [post_title] => Governments trust CASE [post_excerpt] => Machines built for the long haul. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27369 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 10:47:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-20 00:47:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27369 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27415 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 11:31:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 01:31:34 [post_content] =>   By Charles Pauka Australian governments, vehicle manufacturers, transport technology providers and other interested parties have been asked to contribute to the development of a national safety assurance regime for automated vehicles. The National Transport Commission (NTC) has released a discussion paper Regulatory options to assure automated vehicle safety in Australia, which examines the balance between government oversight and industry self-regulation for automated vehicle safety. The paper identifies four regulatory options for a safety assurance system for automated vehicle technology. Chief executive of the NTC Paul Retter said Australia’s transport ministers asked the NTC to look at what level of regulation is needed to ensure automated driving technologies are safe now and into the future. “Australian governments are starting to remove legislative barriers to more automated road vehicles. Without a safety assurance system, these vehicles could potentially be deployed with no government oversight or regulatory intervention,” Mr Retter said. Read more here. This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News.  [post_title] => National safety scheme for automated vehicles [post_excerpt] => National Transport Commission releases discussion paper. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27415 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-16 11:56:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-16 01:56:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27415 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27411 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 11:22:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 01:22:15 [post_content] =>   The community impact statements (CIS) that NSW pubs, bottle shops, bars and clubs must submit when applying for liquor licenses are being reviewed for the first time in nine years. Community impact statements require the applicant to gather community views on the potential impact that granting a new liquor licence could have on a neighbourhood. These statements must include community opposition or support for the licence. NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole announced earlier this week that Liquor and Gaming NSW will be reviewing the process and is asking for community and industry feedback. “It’s important that those potentially affected by liquor licences have input into the assessment process, whether they be residents, councils, police or others,” Mr Toole said. “But it’s also important that pubs, bars and other venues can continue to provide options for people who want to socialise and enjoy themselves.” The review will examine issues such as: • Whether CIS adequately capture local community views • Are concerns being accurately reported by applicants via the CIS? • Does the CIS identify the risks and benefits of a proposed liquor licence? • Are there opportunities to cut red tape and minimise delays in the CIS process? • Is the feedback and information collected via the CIS useful when deciding applications? • Do the benefits of the CIS justify the costs or time placed on businesses, local residents and other stakeholders? • Are there any applications or venues currently included or excluded from the CIS that should not be? Meanwhile, AHA NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green, welcomed the review, telling Intermedia stablemate TheShout: “The current system has been in place for quite some time, so AHA NSW looks forward to taking part in this review process on behalf of our members.” Submissions close on Wednesday 26 July. Have your say here.  [post_title] => Community feedback on NSW liquor licences reviewed [post_excerpt] => First review in nine years. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => community-feedback-nsw-liquor-licenses-reviewed [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-16 12:02:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-16 02:02:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27411 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27402 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 10:40:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 00:40:21 [post_content] => Hilltops Council is one of the NSW councils facing a bill for its merger. Pic: Facebook.   The NSW government has left some councils with hefty bills to pay since their forced amalgamations in May last year. Government News understands that mergers have ended up costing some NSW councils more than the state government merger and transition funding they were given. Rural and regional councils, in particular, are resentful because they received only half of what metropolitan councils were given to cover the process and yet they often receive much less from rates and have lower reserves. Rural and regional councils received $5 million for each merger, while metropolitan councils were handed $10 million for their mergers under the state government’s New Council Implementation Fund (NCIF). But there were caveats. The funding could only be used for certain things, such as getting expert advice and integrating IT systems, but not to pay ongoing staff costs or council administrators, who replace councillors and mayors until the local government elections in September. Councils were also given between $10 to $15 million of Stronger Communities funding to go towards community projects and infrastructure. Despite the funding, some councils are finding there is a reality gap. Hilltops Council, a merger between Boorowa, Harden and Young Councils in the South West Slopes of the state, estimates that it will end up spending $6.5 million on its merger, a shortfall of $1.5 million. Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said residents of the three former council areas would be ‘shaking their heads’ at the figures and wondering where the $1.5 million extra would come from. “Every independent expert said at the start of this process that amalgamations would be more expensive and more disruptive than the government pretended, and now we are seeing this come true,” Mr Shoebridge said. “The incompetence of the Coalition is really staggering, and now they are expecting residents in the local councils they have destroyed to meet the cost of their failure.” Hilltops General Manager Anthony McMahon said he did not understand the logic behind giving rural and regional councils significantly less funding to cover their merger costs than their metro counterparts. “In our case, we’ve been responsible for bringing three councils together that are geographically separated,” Mr McMahon said. “We’re also a water utility and we have additional constraints in relation to having two former councils with populations under 5,000, which means we have to comply with Section 218CA of the Local Government Act.  These factors are not a consideration for metro councils.” The council will finalise its transitional costs and then consider whether to lobby the state government for the money. “We’re focused on ensuring Hilltops Council is adequately resourced to complete the merger process, and will be making representations to Minister Upton accordingly,” Mr McMahon said. “We’ve made clear our determination in ensuring the community does not pay for merger-related costs.” But it is not only regional councils who have been left to pick up the tab for the mergers most of them fought hard against. Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council, an amalgam of Manly, Pittwater and Warringah Councils, received $10 million for its upfront merger costs and has only $105,000 left in the kitty. The council’s biggest outlays were $2.5 million for staff redundancies and $2.8 million for system integration. Northern Beaches Council acknowledges it faces further restructuring costs in the draft of its 2017-2018 Operational Plan. “It is recognised that council will incur further restructuring costs such as the cost of integration, aligning positions within the new organisational structure and new salary system which will exceed the funding provided,” says the plan. “Accordingly the Long Term Financial Plan has been prepared on the basis that once the NCIF has been fully utilised, existing budgets will firstly be used to pay for those merger and transition costs not funded through this mechanism prior to the identification of net savings.” Brian Halstead President of Save Our Councils Coalition, a community group against forced council mergers, said a funding shortfall had always been on the cards. “The amount that the government allowed was based on the KPMG report, which under costed amalgamations and because they’re not allowing councils to book the ongoing staff costs and administrators against the funding,” Mr Halstead said. He said some council staff were spending 25 per cent of their time managing the merger process, including harmonising service delivery and staff pay and conditions, and that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian should stump up the extra cash. “If I was a ratepayer, I would be thinking that these amalgamations have been forced on them by state government. It’s only reasonable that the state government bear the costs of amalgamation but I doubt any of the administrators will [ask] because they’re paid public servants.” Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Keith Rhoades said he was not surprised that merger costs had exceeded the funding available. “LGNSW, along with a number of academics and other experts, argued strongly throughout the process that there was a strong potential for additional costs,” Mr Rhoades said. “It was always clear that the cost of individual amalgamations would vary from council to council depending on readiness, systems compatibility, staff skills etc and in fact this is one reason why forced amalgamations can be more difficult than those that are achieved voluntarily, after extensive meaningful consultation.” Roberta Ryan, Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney, said it was hard to predict the cost of mergers but the state government had given it their best shot at trying to work it out from past experience. She said the cost of mergers would depend partly upon the extent of co-operation between councils before they merged, for example through shared IT systems and services and the level of regulatory harmony in an area. “I understand there has been a shortfall for a number of councils,” Ms Ryan said. “Many regional and rural councils would have found it harder and more expensive because the amount [they were given] was less and some of them may not have been working towards some of these things that some of the metro councils were.” The ability of new councils to absorb any cost blowout was highly variable, she said. “Some councils have good reserves but some of the smaller ones are very strapped financially.” Asked when the true costs and savings from mergers would be known she said: “Not ever - as we don’t have the base line data available - there can be overall benefits and improvements - that may have happened even if the amalgamations didn’t happen.” The Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) would not say whether any NSW councils had approached Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton to fund the shortfall or whether the government would act, should this occur. The DPC statement would only say: “The NSW Government has provided an unprecedented level of support to new local councils. “The NSW Government provided new councils with $375 million to implement the mergers and kick start investment in new services and infrastructure for their residents. “New councils in regional areas received $5 million to cover the costs of merging, as well as $10 million for a merger of two councils or $15 million for a merger of three councils, which is to be used for community, services and infrastructure projects.” [post_title] => NSW councils fork out for forced mergers as government funding dries up [post_excerpt] => Councils could petition Berejiklian for shortfall. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-councils-fork-forced-mergers-government-funding-dries [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-16 14:53:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-16 04:53:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27402 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27391 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-15 09:28:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-14 23:28:52 [post_content] =>   Chemist Paul Mavor with the first medicinal cannabis imports from Canada last month. Pic: supplied.   Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Michael Gannon has criticised Tuesday’s senate vote, which makes it easier for terminally ill patients to buy unregistered medicinal cannabis from overseas, saying he fears the drug could end up in the wrong hands but cannabis experts have called his reaction unfounded. The vote was led by Greens leader Richard Di Natale after he lost the same vote in May, but this time it won the support of Labor, One Nation and various crossbenchers after a procedural loophole allowed a re-vote. Medicinal cannabis will now be classed as a category A drug on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) list, making it easier for doctors to prescribe the medication to terminally ill people and drastically reducing the time it takes for patients to get hold of it. The senate vote also means terminally ill people can legally import the drug more easily from regulated overseas markets, provided they have a prescription. The first medicinal cannabis imports came into Australia in May from Canadian company CanniMed. The Australian medicinal cannabis market is currently in its infancy after it became legal to cultivate, produce and manufacture medicinal cannabis products on October 30 2016. Good domestic product is probably 12 to 24 months away so securing an overseas supply is a necessary option for sick Australians. Supply is not the only problem, draconian rules around prescription are too. When the federal government legislated to make medicinal cannabis legal for some terminally ill patients last year, it also tightened up the conditions that had to be met before it could be prescribed. The drug was previously classified as a category B drug under the special access scheme, which meant doctors had to get prior approval from the TGA, their state or territory health department and their hospital ethics committee or relevant association, before treating terminally ill patients, rather than just informing the TGA they intended to prescribe it. It has obviously had an impact. Fairfax reported this week that only 133 people have been able to access medicinal cannabis since new laws came in. But some doctors aren’t in favour of relaxing the rules. Dr Gannon told Sky News he was ‘disappointed’ with the senate’s decision and said that giving patients access to unregistered medicinal cannabis products from overseas would knock doctors’ confidence in prescribing it.  “You’ve already got a situation where doctors are querying exactly how effective medicinal cannabis is. If you in any way put any doubt in their minds about the safety, you're simply not going to see it prescribed by many doctors,” Dr Gannon said. But he admitted the risks to patients were minimal. “Certainly, in the palliative care setting, we're not worried about addiction and, to be honest, we're not too worried about major potential side effects. But we remain concerned about potential diversion into the general community.” Dr Gannon said cannabis was still a major source of mental illness in the wider community and it was ‘absolutely essential’ any imports were safe. “If cannabis was the panacea that the people who seem desperate to import it - if it really was that good, then it would be in liberal use across the entire medical system,” he said. “We're excited about its potential in palliative care, we're excited about its potential when it comes to juvenile epilepsy, and forms of spasticity, but let's look for the evidence.” His views echo those of federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who called the senate’s decision ‘reckless and irresponsible’ and argued that cannabis could end up in the pockets of criminals and out on the streets. AMA’s fears unfounded, says expert But medicinal cannabis expert Rhys Cohen, who works for the Australian subsidiary of Israeli medicinal cannabis company Cann10, called Dr Gannon’s statements contradictory and ‘completely unfounded’. He said medicinal cannabis was unlikely to be diverted illegally, partly because it was already ‘incredibly cheap and incredibly accessible’ in Australia and medicinal cannabis was considerably more expensive. He said only a few countries, including Israel, Canada and the Netherlands, legally exported cannabis and they all tightly controlled their product. Companies needed export licenses and permits and Australian companies needed import licenses and permits. Prescriptions could still come only from specialist medical practitioners. “The changes allow people who are very soon going to die to access it faster than previously,” Mr Cohen said. “We’re not talking about Joe Bloggs with a bad leg here but people on their death beds dying of cancer wanting to get relief from pain. “The idea that there’s a chance they will sell it on the street is just ridiculous.” While Dr Gannon has argued that cannabis should be treated the same as every other drug, operation or therapy Mr Cohen said it had always been treated very differently from other drugs. “Any unregistered drug in the medicine world was accessible through special access A, except cannabis,” he said. Mr Cohen said he thought the AMA’s misgivings were that doctors would be put under more pressure to prescribe medicinal cannabis, especially given pent up demand. However, while he agreed these concerns were legitimate he said doctors were responsible for educating themselves about medicinal cannabis, especially when it had been proven to work so well for chronic pain, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. [post_title] => Doctors on a downer over medicinal cannabis imports [post_excerpt] => Concerns unfounded, says Australian cannabis expert. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => doctors-downer-medicinal-cannabis-imports [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-16 12:05:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-16 02:05:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27391 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27374 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-13 12:52:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-13 02:52:02 [post_content] =>   By Lucy Marrett  The 7-Eleven wage repayment scheme has so far repaid over $110 million in unpaid wages. However former wage repayment chairman Professor Allan Fels has raised concerns about minimal fines. The current payout has eclipsed penalties under existing laws and raised questions about a new law that the Federal Government has proposed, Sydney Morning Herald reported. Mr Fels said the fines imposed under the existing laws would be minimal in comparison to the 7-Eleven payouts. “The far stronger deterrent effect for others is if they know they have to make up the underpayments in full – in this case $110 million plus, compared to if they just have to pay a fine,” he said. “The Fair Work Act system just imposes fines and very limited compensation on the individuals whose cases are considered. But the court system works quite badly for systematic underpayment of thousands of people.” Read more here. This story first appeared in C&I Week.  [post_title] => 7-Eleven compensation claims hit $110m [post_excerpt] => Payouts better than fines, says Fels. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 7-eleven-compensation-claims-hit-110m [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-13 12:58:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-13 02:58:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27374 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27365 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-13 12:21:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-13 02:21:00 [post_content] => Stinky wheelie bins, noisy garbage trucks and scavenging rodents will never plague Maroochydore’s new city centre on the Sunshine Coast. Rather than employing a fleet of wheelie bins and rubbish trucks, Sunshine Coast Council will suck rubbish from waste inlets in the walls of apartments and commercial buildings at speeds of up to 70kmh through a 6.5 kilometre system of underground vacuum pipes, lurking beneath Australia’s newest, 53-hectare city. Three colour-coded waste inlets will deal with general waste, recyclables and organics and each will be compartmentalised and sealed underground until the vacuum pump gets switched on to suck it into the central waste facility, probably twice daily. There will also be waste inlets above ground in public areas which will look a bit like daleks. The waste is then put into sealed compactors and once or twice a week the council receives a message indicating the compactor is full and the waste needs to be collected. The council’s Director of Infrastructure Services Andrew Ryan said the Swedish system, pioneered in 1965, was already popular in the Northern Hemisphere and would be the first one installed in Australia. He said the process functioned similarly to sewerage and water systems. The system will cost $21 million to install but Mr Ryan said costs would be recouped from CBD occupants over the life of the project, around 25 to 30 years. The council will build the central waste collection centre and charge per property to cover operational and collection costs. “One of the things we really liked about this system is they work really well in large-scale, medium density masterplan communities [like Maroochydore], particularly where the developer has a long-term interest in the precinct,” Mr Ryan said. “The most obvious advantages are you have a public realm that doesn’t have garbage trucks trundling up and down the street in the early morning or at night. There’s no noise, no smell and no vermin. “Buildings can have active frontages because you’re just dealing with a pipe [not bins] and you save on labour costs.” Mr Ryan said Sydney and Melbourne had a good look at the system but it was difficult for the business case to stack up because of the cost of sinking pipes underground in an already established city centre, although he said Barcelona and Singapore had both done retrofits. The system was most suited to medium to high density masterplan communities of between 3000 to 5000 people or a resort-style development where five or six buildings were located together. But it is not just about waste collection. At the same time, the council will install a high-speed fibre optic network as part of its smart cities’ project. This will provide free Wi-Fi hotspots, movement sensors, smart signs and lighting. The council is not hanging about. The pipes should be in the ground within three months and the central collection centre should be operational by December 2018. [post_title] => Council dumps wheelie bins for whizz-bang underground waste system [post_excerpt] => Maroochydore in Australian first. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-dumps-wheelie-bins-whizz-bang-underground-waste-system [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-13 13:00:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-13 03:00:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27365 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27361 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-13 11:10:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-13 01:10:21 [post_content] =>   Affordable housing, infrastructure spending, mental health, new schools, family violence and drug courts and 6,000 more public servants are expected to be some of the cornerstones of Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s budget today (Tuesday). It is a budget with real heart, with a focus on people doing it tough, whether it is people battling drug addiction or poor mental health, children in unsafe situations or those who cannot afford a secure place to live and one likely to help Ms Palaszcuk's bid for re-election in around six month's time. One of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s biggest ticket items in today’s budget, which will be announced around 2.30pm, will be $1.8 billion for social and affordable housing under the state’s new 10-year Queensland Housing Strategy. The money will be used to build 4,522 new social homes and 1,034 affordable homes and introduce targets for social and affordable housing of between 5 to 25 per cent for new homes built on state land. It also includes $20 million for new Youth Foyers in Townsville and the Gold Coast and expanding the Logan foyer. The service, run by Wesley Mission, provides supported accommodation and social and emotional support for marginalised young people aged 16 to 25. The government has also committed to creating housing and homelessness hubs; $30 million to reform the housing system and $75 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander home ownership. It is expected there will be 450 full-time construction jobs created a year. Ms Palaszczuk called the $1.8 billion investment ‘a launch pad for opportunity and aspiration’. “Secure housing enables young people to finish their education. It provides the stability that keeps families together. And it gives people the secure base they need to get and keep a job,” she said. Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said state-wide expressions of interest for initial projects would be online from today. “Our ten-year construction program provides industry with a stable and predictable program of work so they can have certainty,” Mr Pitt said. “This is about best practice procurement, working to match projects to appropriate partners, creating opportunities for small, medium and large businesses. Whether you are a small home builder or one of the state’s largest developers there is something in this construction package for you.” Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the strategy would leverage investment from the private sector create ‘genuine affordable housing’ in the state on underused government land. “This strategy is a big win for local builders and tradies in the residential sector across the state,” Mr de Brenni said. “This strategy is about partnering with the private sector and community housing providers to create genuine affordable housing, something that hasn’t been done at scale in this country in decades.” Housing affordability has been a key component of state and federal budgets of late. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a suite of housing measures earlier this month but the reforms were focused more on helping out first home buyers with stamp duty concessions and grants, increasing duties and taxes for foreign property investors and speeding up development applications. Housing was also top-of-mind for Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison in his May Budget when he announced a bond aggregator scheme, which hopes to attract large-scale private investment into affordable housing by helping not-for-profit community housing providers borrow more cheaply. Mr Morrison also introduced a super deposit scheme to enable first home buyers amass a deposit more quickly and but he pointedly refused to touch either negative gearing or capital gains tax discounts. Other Queensland Budget measures include: • Another $2 billion towards Brisbane's $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, a 10.2km inner-city rail link between Dutton Park and Bowen Hill, taking the state’s contribution to half • $75 million for the Townsville Port expansion • Upgrading the Sciencentre at the Queensland Museum on the South Bank ($9.4 million) • $16 billion for health, including expanding mental health services and replacing the Barrett Centre, Queensland’s only residential centre for youth with severe mental health problems • $13 billion for education to build new high schools in Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane and buy land for four more regional high schools • New domestic and family violence courts at Townsville and Beenleigh and making Southport court permanent ($69.5 million) • Reinstating the Drug Court in Brisbane to help rehabilitate offenders and overcome substance dependence ($22.7 million over four years) • A $200 million child safety package including 292 child safety staff, money to recruit an extra 1000 foster carers and $7.4 million to support families where a person has become addicted to ice • $155 million for counter-terror policing with 30 more police officers in Brisbane and 20 in the regions and $46.7 million for a counter-terrorism facility at Wacol • $1.1 billion for electricity projects and subsidies [post_title] => A Queensland budget with heart: Palaszczuk prepares for re-election [post_excerpt] => Cash for health, housing, kids and courts. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => queensland-budget-prepares-palaszczuk-re-election [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-13 11:10:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-13 01:10:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27361 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27454 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-23 13:30:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:30:41 [post_content] => NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announcing the 2017 NSW Budget. Pic:YouTube.      NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has sprinkled some of his budgetary largesse on local councils and stumped up billions for infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, bike paths and sports facilities and set up a new fund to kickstart a regional economic renaissance in the state. Mr Perrottet’s first budget was fuelled by a $4.5 billion surplus with coffers swollen from the NSW property boom and a major asset sell-off and local government will be more than pleased to rake in some of the spoils gained from stamp duty and the polls and wires sell off. For the Budget NSW overview click here. A new $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund has been established, focusing on lifting regional economic growth. There are six funds, including strands for infrastructure; sports facilities; improving voice and data connectivity; upgrades to parks, community centres and playgrounds and building and upgrading arts and cultural venues. Another strand also deals specifically with investing in infrastructure for mining communities. Councils, industry, regional organisations and community groups can apply to the funds, which tie in with the NSW government’s 30-year Regional Development Framework. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said the announcement was a positive one for the regions. "LGNSW looks forward to more information from the Deputy Premier's office on how this funding will be allocated and the opportunities for our sector, but overall this looks like very good news for regional communities. "This goes to show that the government does listen when the community speaks, and particularly so when they make their voice heard at the ballot box.” Central Coast Council Administrator, Ian Reynolds, said as he was particularly pleased with the promise to allocate 30 percent of infrastructure spending to the regions. “The $6 billion injection is significant and recognises that regions like the coast are attracting more people who are looking for a better lifestyle away from the big cities and require improved infrastructure to meet their growing needs,” Mr Reynolds. “Roads are a key priority for council because our community wants better roads and it is pleasing to see such a significant injection by the state government into roads here on the coast.” The regions also won another victory, with the government allocating $100 million for palliative care services and staff training, with much of this expected to flow to rural areas where there have been complaints about the dearth of services available. In addition, the government will spend $258 million on supporting and regulating local government through the Office of Local Government, including $2.1 million to optimise the Companion Animals Register and Pet Registry to improve user experience and enhance functionality. But it is not simply a one-way street with all give and no take. Local councils will feel the heat from Mr Perrottet’s push to accelerate house building in the state, including 30,000 new homes in priority precincts in Sydney. The NSW government will spend almost $70 million to speed up major development approvals and help councils rezone land quicker, including $19 million to establish a specialist team to rezone and to help councils accelerate rezonings. Also in the budget is $11.8 million for online, cloud-based housing development applications, especially to help regional councils and small metropolitan councils with low capability. Other key budget points
  • $4.2 billion over four years for education infrastructure, including building new schools and upgrading others
  • A cash injection of $7.7 billion over four years for new hospitals and hospital upgrades
  • Public transport, road building and rail gets $73 billion, including WestConnex, Sydney Metro City rail line and the Pacific Highway upgrade
  • Spending $20.1 million to complete the Service NSW network of service centres by transitioning 24 motor registries in regional and rural communities to Service NSW service centres.
  • Art Gallery of NSW expansion worth $244 million
  • A $1.2 billion package for first home buyers, including stamp duty relief and heavier foreign investor charges
  • $63.2 million to improve child protection, including additional caseworkers, case managers, and case support workers
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