Councils could petition Berejiklian for shortfall.
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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 )  => 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 )  => 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 )  => 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 )  => 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 )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27346 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-09 05:00:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-08 19:00:56 [post_content] => Former Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale. Pic: YouTube. Former Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale must be wondering if his Teflon reputation is finally giving out as investigations continue into why he was carrying $50,000 in cash at Melbourne Airport on May 13 and revelations of a new probe by the Queensland corruption watchdog. Mr Pisasale was stopped at Melbourne Airport last month when sniffer dogs detected wads of cash in his carry-on luggage. The money was later seized by the Australian Federal Police under suspicion that it may have come from the proceeds of crime. Mr Pisasale denied that he had done anything illegal and said he did not realise the bag contained cash, only legal documents. Brisbane barrister and Mr Pisasale’s friend, Sam Di Carlo, later came forward and explained that Mr Pisasale was collecting the money for him from a client, an action that Queensland Law Society President Christine Smyth called a ‘very unusual’ arrangement but not illegal. A Labor Mayor, businessman and political survivor, Mr Pisasale has been the subject of several criminal investigations since he joined the south-east Queensland council in 1991 but he has always emerged unscathed, apart from copping a $5000 fine over failing to properly declare shares in 2016. The most common criticisms levelled in the past have been that he is too pro-business and tight with developers. But after years of controversy matters appear to be coming to a head. Mr Pisasale resigned citing ill health on Tuesday this week, only one year into his fourth term and his thirteenth year as mayor, saying his multiple sclerosis had flared up and he needed to rest. Mr Pisasale wearing a dressing gown at Tuesday's press conference, St Andrew's Private Hospital. Pic: YouTube. He said a recent MS attack had left him hospitalised and he insisted his resignation was unrelated to any corruption investigations. He added that he had been discussing his resignation with council staff for the last month. “For the last 30 years I’ve suffered multiple sclerosis. It’s a very tough disease and a lot of people get it and I’ve been able to set an example in dealing with multiple sclerosis,” Mr Pisasale said. “Sometimes you think you’re bulletproof.” “When MS starts affecting your judgement and ability to do your job 100 per cent it’s time to look after it. "After 25 years and not having a weekend off and not having a holiday and getting so engrossed in the city it does take its toll. Now it's my time to look after my health." He said he was not leaving the city but would bow out of council life: “I'm not a councillor, pretty soon I'll just be Paul Pisasale". But the timing of his retirement looked off. Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) police searched his Ipswich Council offices the day before, apparently in connection with a fresh investigation believed to involve a developer. When Government News approached the CCC to find out the substance of the probe into Mr Pisasale a CCC spokesperson would only say: “As you can no doubt appreciate there are times when due to the nature of the work the CCC does there is not a lot we can say.” Mr Pisasale appeared in front of the CCC in April as part of Operation Belcarra, an investigation into the conduct of candidates in Ipswich, Gold Coast and Moreton Bay in the run up to local council elections. The Operation is examining allegations that candidates fundraised as an undeclared group of candidates; submitted misleading or false electoral funding and financial returns and did not have dedicated election campaign bank accounts. One thing that is inarguable is that Mr Pisasale, who has been Ipswich’s Mayor since 2004, remains enormously popular with the public. In 2016 he was re-elected mayor, winning 83 per cent of the vote, and he has repeatedly triumphed over attempts to pin anything on him. These include:
- A $7500 donation Mr Pisasale’s 2012 re-election campaign from Australian Water Holdings, the company famously linked to jailed NSW minister Eddie Obeid and the downfall of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell
- In 2013, he lobbied then Liberal Queensland Premier Campbell Newman on behalf of a developer, who was one of his campaign donors, over a Sunshine Coast site 160 km from Ipswich, attracting intense public criticism
- Further controversy was stirred up after his wife Janet was put on the council payroll between September 2014 and August 2014 when she stepped in at short notice after his administrative assistant quit and he needed someone to drive him round at night
- A 10-month CCC investigation into whether community funds had been channelled into his election campaign concluded in May 2015, clearing Mr Pisasale of any wrongdoing
- In 2016 he was fined $5000 by Queensland’s local government department for failing to properly disclose the shares he owned in two companies
- Government policy changes
- Technology disruption
- Increasingly competitive market for international students
- Future financial sustainability
- Investment in research not providing the desired outcomes and excellence
- Establish a transition advisory board to advise on labour issues.
- Consider a temporary permit system to manage the speed of adoption.
- Set international standards, road rules and vehicle regulations for self-driving trucks.
- Continue pilot projects with driverless trucks to test vehicles, network technology and communications protocols.
- Removing stamp duty concessions for investors purchasing off the plan
- Infrastructure funding of $3 billion from the state government, councils and developers to accelerate new housing
- Abolishing the 9 per cent stamp duty charged on lenders’ mortgage insurance, which banks often demand when they lend to first homebuyers with smaller deposits
- Fast-tracking approvals for well-designed terraces, townhouses, manor homes and dual occupancy by including them under complying exempt development
- Greater use of independent panels for Sydney councils and in some regional areas to speed up development applications and ensure the integrity of the planning process
Concerns unfounded, says Australian cannabis expert.
Payouts better than fines, says Fels.
Maroochydore in Australian first.
Cash for health, housing, kids and courts.
Cautions expanding urban sprawl.
Sunday penalty rates down to 150% by 2020.
Overseas student numbers soar.
The human side of driverless trucks.
Tenant body urges action.
Removing weight and volume markings from packaging.
And eight Sydney council’s energy efficiency push.