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                    [post_content] => 

 

Cumberland Council will press ahead with a controversial plan to outsource kerbside waste and recycling before September’s local government elections.

The Western Sydney suburbs council, born out of a forced merger between Holroyd and Auburn Councils and part of Parramatta in May 2016, has put the council’s waste and recycling services out to tender with a deadline of May 26.

Up for grabs are services include kerbside garbage; recyclables; organics and garden waste; council clean ups and picking up dumped rubbish and this covers around  70,000 housesholds.

This translates annually into dealing with around 60,000 tonnes of garbage; 14,000 tonnes of recycling and 5,500 tonnes of organic and green waste, as well as two to four council clean ups a year and collecting dumped rubbish within 24 hours of it being reported.

Government News understands that new contractors could take over from as early as August. They will manage the transition to a new service and begin a four-year contract from January 2019 with the option to extend this by three years.

Council Administrator Viv May commissioned reviews into council services, including garbage collection and council swimming pools, after taking over last year.

The waste review, written by council officers, showed a marked preference towards outsourcing services to the private sector and argued that the council could cut its costs by 20 per cent through bigger contracts and reduced operating costs.

Most of the council’s waste and recycling services are currently delivered by council garbos, apart from waste services in Woodville Ward, which used to come under Parramatta Council, and the recyclables collection in the former Holroyd Council area.

Mr May has copped flak from former Holroyd Mayor Greg Cummings, as well as resistance from the United Services Union (USU), which represents local government workers in NSW.

Mr Cummings said Mr May was ‘overstepping his responsibilities’ and driving changes through before the council went into caretaker mode in early August.

“This is done at break-neck speed to make sure it’s done before an elected council can review it,” Mr Cummings said.

“By all means collect the information and get a report but it should be there ready for the democratically elected council to review.”

Mr Cummings said Mr May was known to be an enthusiastic advocate of outsourcing and had a track record in that area.

Mr May spent 27 years as Mosman Council’s General Manager where he outsourced the council’s  outdoor work and reduced council employed outdoor workers from more than 100 to six.

Mr Cummings also criticised the council for omitting diversion to landfill in the tender. He said that the former Holroyd Council had managed to divert 62 per cent of green waste from landfill using UR-3R alternative waste treatment plant in Eastern Creek.

But Cumberland Council’s Group Manager, Roads and Waste Peter Fitzgerald defended the decision to go out to competitive tender.

He said the council’s review estimated it would yield more than $16 million in savings and ensure a more consistent service. It would also finally give Woodville ward residents a green waste bin so they would no longer have to trek to the council’s depot.

“Given that the existing contract for waste services in the Woodville ward expires in November this year council could not wait any longer to make a decision about the provision of waste services,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Council must provide a consistent service to all residents irrespective of which part of the council area they live in.”

He said around 34 council staff would be affected by decision.

“All affected council staff have been assured that if they want a job with council they will still have a job with council, regardless of the decision to call tenders for these services,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Mr May told Government News in October last year that Administrators had the same powers as mayors and councillors and would make decisions accordingly. 

The USU is not convinced and has come out against the outsourcing plans, arguing that service levels will drop and rates will rise. It led a public rally against Cumberland Council outsourcing in February.

The USU website says of the tender: “We all know that private waste collection companies don’t care about ratepayers or the local community, they only care about one thin: delivering profit margins to their shareholders.

“The contractors won’t have time to do missed services or go the extra mile by taking your bin in if you can’t. Yes, that’s what the hard working council garbos do for the community.”

But disentangling the legacy of three different councils’ waste and recycling services will not be easy.

The council will have to pay out staff redundancies and long service leave along with paying penalties on any contracts which are terminated early, some of which do not expire until 2020.

The United Services Union has been contacted for comment.

More to follow.
                    [post_title] => Merged NSW council outsources rubbish and recycling before councillors elected
                    [post_excerpt] => Union and ex-mayor enter fray.
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    A report into Australia’s burgeoning medicinal cannabis share market or 'pot stock' boom has highlighted eye-popping share price increases and a rush of investor enthusiasm but cautioned prospective investors to watch and wait. A 2017 Australian Stock Report (ASR) Medical marijuana: Should you buy into these companies?, aimed at share traders and investors, says medicinal cannabis stocks have shot up by more than 130 per cent this year but recommends restraint due to the “relative infancy of medical marijuana on the ASX”. Millions of dollars have poured into the fledgling industry since it became legal to cultivate, produce and manufacture medicinal cannabis products in Australia on October 30 last year. So far, it can only be used for treating a fairly narrow range of conditions such as severe epilepsy, chronic pain, HIV and chemo-induced nausea. Investors and speculators are always looking for the next big thing and they seem to have found it in medicinal cannabis as they’ve watched stocks climb and interest explode.   But the ASR warns that medicinal cannabis related stocks could fail to translate capital investments into sustainable profits and that management teams are likely to be inexperienced when dealing with the regulations and consumer demands of an emerging industry. “This is likely to bring management mistakes as they anticipate supply and demand growth which may or may not occur, leading to inventory disruptions and unanticipated cost,” The ASR says. New industry players have entered the market as barriers have fallen but this can lead to industry fragmentation and spell lower investment returns. Companies that have recently listed on the ASX include The Hydroponics Company (THC) in Sydney; AusCann; Zelda Therapeutics; MMJ Phytotech Ltd; Perth company MGC Pharma; Creso Pharma and International Cannabis Corp. “The overall industry appears to have a bright future with growing evidence pointing to the medical attributes of using marijuana,” said the ASR. “Despite this growing demand we think the Australian listed entities are too immature at this stage to be considered as a financial investment and we prefer to watch from the side lines to determine which if any can transform into making positive cash flows,” the report concludes. “Sorry to dampen your enthusiasm but these listed entities are also thinly traded, meaning there is not much stock available to buy or sell. Thinly traded stocks are hard to move in and out of, prices get pushed up as investors secure stock but also drop a lot faster when investors decide to exit.” The ASR advises investors to take the time to understand a company’s financials and its products before investing. Industry expert Rhys Cohen has welcomed the growing number of medicinal cannabis companies listing on the ASX but he said we should not lose sight of what is at stake for patients.   “There’s a bit too much hype around the financialisation of this industry that may not be best for the industry or patients,” Mr Cohen said. “I don’t think anyone is at fault. People are really excited about this – there are a lot of reasons to be excited and I’m not trying to put down people who invest in pot stocks - but it’s distracting people from the realities of the industry, like expanding patient access and investing more in medical research and education.” While floating companies was a good way for companies to access capital funding he said that some of the hype around pot stock deals had drawn people’s attention from what was really important: the long-term viability of the industry and the well-being of patients. The two main barriers to industry growth were patient access and domestic drug approval. To be prescribed medicinal cannabis, patients must first visit their medical practitioner who must then get approval from the state or territory health department and the federal health department to import the drug before they can access it. “People are really frustrated because they’ve been told it’s legal and available but actually it’s a lot more complex than that. There are a lot of barriers. It requires your medical practitioner to be a real advocate for you.” At present there is no domestic product and companies must undergo an arduous approval process to be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, prior to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. But Mr Cohen, who works for the Australian subsidiary of Israeli medicinal cannabis company Cann10, is doing something about building local capacity in the industry with Australia’s first medical cannabis leadership program, which kicks off in Melbourne later this year. Cann10 will run the 8-week program for 40 participants in partnership with DeakinCo., the commercial arm of Deakin University. The one-night a week course will cover topics including botany and cultivation; clinical science; agriculture and genetics; extraction and legislation; commerce and R&D and regulation and it is aimed at doctors, nurses, pharmacists and scientists, as well as agricultural, biomedical and technological entrepreneurs. Mr Cohen said he hoped the course would be a springboard for people to start new ventures, research programs and businesses and would help entrepreneurs to network. “There’s so much work to be done in learning every part of the medicinal cannabis industry. There are companies that are doing some really exciting, cutting edge medical research and finding new ways of delivering it, such as pills and oils,” he said. “Really we’re just getting started. This industry didn’t exist pre-1992. It’s only really in the last few years that we’ve been able to do real research on the cannabis plant.” He said Australia was ideally placed to develop a globally successful medicinal cannabis industry because once up and running the product would be high quality and rigorously regulated with good access to Asian markets. Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.    [post_title] => Curb your enthusiasm: The overhyped medicinal cannabis ‘pot stock’ boom [post_excerpt] => Don’t lose sight of patients, says industry expert. 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The Canberra school cleaners who took their underpayment claim to the Federal Court. Source: United Voice   By Claire Hibbit 
A Canberra-based cleaning company, which was contracted to clean 10 public schools in the ACT, has been found guilty of Fair Work Act breaches for underpayments. United Voice launched the case against Philip Cleaning Services on behalf of 22 workers in 2015, alleging in court documents that some of the cleaners were owed almost $25,000. Of the 22 workers, 19 are S’gaw Karen refugees from Myanmar and Thailand, who spent two decades in refugee camps in Thailand before being resettled in Australia. According to United Voice, the permanent part-time school cleaners were pressured into signing contracts they did not understand, variously paid from different business entities (without explanation either to the workers or the ACT Government) and routinely exposed to unsafe working conditions. Read more here. This story first appeared in INCLEAN.
[post_title] => Canberra school cleaning company guilty of Fair Work Act breaches [post_excerpt] => Some workers owed almost $25k. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => canberra-cleaning-company-guilty-fair-work-act-breaches [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 11:43:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:43:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26994 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26984 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-28 11:24:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:24:55 [post_content] =>   Will Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce succeed in herding public servants out of Canberra?   The recent controversy surrounding the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) away from Canberra to Armidale and the National’s push to force government departments to justify why they should remain in Canberra has helped reignite debate around regional development. So too has intensifying anxiety around house prices in Sydney and Melbourne and the rising despair of first home buyers and renters, which federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has indicated will be a cornerstone of his May Budget. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, whose New England electorate takes in Armidale, and National’s Deputy Leader Fiona Nash have led the charge to eject cadres of Canberra’s public servants into the regions, despite the APVMA relocation failing the government’s own cost-benefit analysis and being fiercely opposed by most of its workers and the National Farmers’ Federation. More than 80 per cent of APVMA staff, many of whom are highly specialised scientists, have refused to up sticks for Armidale. APVMA’s chief Kareena Arthy quit the agricultural chemicals agency one week ago for a job as Deputy Director-General of Enterprise Canberra, rather than move. But Nash and Joyce won’t let go. Ms Nash has said that regional Australians “have just as much right to a government career as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra residents”. “The fact is most moves of government departments to the regions will save money on rent and rates. It’s also fact the vast majority of employees in government departments don’t need to visit the Minister’s office in Parliament House,” Ms Nash said. “Indeed two thirds of Australian government jobs are already outside Canberra, many of them in Melbourne and Sydney.” Sydney University Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell, a political economist who has written widely on regional development, says targeting public sector jobs in Canberra is a furphy when Sydney and Melbourne are the most overheated. Prof Stilwell says Canberra’s creation back in the early 1900s as the nation’s independent capital city, was designed to decentralise economic activity away from Sydney and Melbourne. “It was a counter magnet for the overdevelopment of the eastern seaboard. Frankly [moving jobs out of Canberra] just doesn’t make sense to me,” he says. Creating Canberra was “socially legitimate and long-term and did not involve politicians pork barrelling for their own electorate”. The critical mass of public servants in Canberra allows for interactions between agencies, knowledge clusters and greater staff mobility. Australian National University Emeritus Professor of political science John Warhurst agrees that Canberra is the wrong target for decentralisation. “It is actually the best Australian example of decentralisation to the bush that there is. It is a bush capital. The Nationals should be proud of this national achievement rather than try to undermine it,” he wrote, in a piece for Fairfax yesterday (Thursday). “Furthermore, Canberra is still quite a small city, dependent on public service employment.” Prof Stilwell says APVMA’s relocation looks especially ill-advised since it is not backed up by the Ernst and Young cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the government and foisting the move on staff was unlikely to be popular. “It is very disruptive for anybody. Many people have already invested in homes and have kids in schools. Not that Armidale is a backwater. It’s great for education and affordable real estate prices that are much more attractive than our overstressed capital cities. “If this [move] can’t work, maybe there is something wrong with the process. Shifting around the federal public service is just not really addressing the problem.” Prof Stilwell says that what is needed is a coherent strategy backed by all three tiers of government with state government leading the way to address the overcentralisation in Sydney and Melbourne, “that’s where the action needs to be”, he says. While he won’t be drawn on which state government departments or agencies should go bush, he says he would target relatively autonomous, footloose agencies that were not linked into a political cluster where staff needed to interact. There has already been some decentralisation, such as moving the ATO to Gosford. But he says it takes political will to plan decentralise jobs and growth and this kind of co-operation and nation building has not happened since Whitlam’s national regional strategy in the 1970s, which bit the bullet after three years when Malcolm Fraser was elected. “It’s not pie in the sky, it just hasn’t happened for a long, long time in Australia. It needs to have cross-party support or it will get switched on and off when the government changes.” He says this vision has never been reinstated, other than the Building Better Cities program under the Hawke government and led by Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe. A national strategy would need to be underpinned by research to investigate long-term, sustainable policy options alongside a willingness to invest in rural and regional infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, public housing and roads. “State governments have to be the leading agencies but they’re not going to do it unless there’s a national plan because otherwise they are in competition with each other.” The government should also focus on enticing private businesses to the regions, not just the public sector. For example by offering preferential payroll tax rates, developing industrial parks, building public housing and other infrastructure such as fast rail links between state capitals, with stops on the way to develop two or three regional centres in each state. “It’s a complex process. They just need time to get everyone used to the idea, get everyone committed so that eventually it develops its own inevitable momentum. While it’s a [political] football and controversial it’s not going to tick any of the boxes of economic viability,” Prof Stilwell says. Regional development has received further attention with the transplantation of the UK City Deals program to Australia, where capital investment is funnelled into particular regions around cities with targets for infrastructure and growth. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull known to be a fan of the project and early Australian cities deals have already been signed for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney. Regional development must be addressed because the consequences of not pursuing it are high: unequal distribution of jobs, wealth and growth and loss of social connection in regional areas on the one hand; congestion, inflated house prices and environmental degradation for city dwellers on the other. “It’s a win-win, when it is done well,” Prof Stilwell adds. The Productivity Commission’s initial report Transitioning Regional Economies says that regional development should be pursued in the light of the end of the mining boom, the slow growth of agriculture jobs due to technology and rising productivity and manufacturing sector shrinkage to make regional areas and their people more resilient. [post_title] => Target Sydney and Melbourne public sector jobs, not Canberra [post_excerpt] => APVMA debate rages on. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => target-sydney-melbourne-public-sector-jobs-not-canberra [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 11:24:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:24:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26984 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26953 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 10:32:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 00:32:59 [post_content] =>   A scene from the new smartphone app Magical Park.   Local councils in Australia and New Zealand and an NZ games developer have hit upon a brilliant way to use mobile phones to draw children to play in urban parks again. A new free smartphone app has unleashed the augmented reality game Magical Park, targeted at kids aged six to 11, which encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park. In the game children can interact with fairies, dragons, kittens, dinosaurs and aliens and complete missions, like finding dinosaur eggs, using their phone or tablet camera. The game is positioned in a selected large, flat park space in the shape of a virtual circle, which holds the game content kids can play. The idea was born during last month’s Parks Week celebrations, where 47 Australian councils and 19 NZ councils put their heads together to find a way to kick kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, interacting with their families at the same time. The project is a partnership between The Parks and Leisure Australia, the New Zealand Recreation Association and Kiwi game developer Geo AR Games. Magical Park attracted over 24,000 park visitors during Parks Week, with an average of 1069 number of game sessions played per day and participants running an average of 1.45km per game. Families across Australia and New Zealand spent more than 1,200 hours playing Magical Park together. Councils pay a subscription fee for the app, which is geo-located to a specific park. The app will only open in a designated park area. The families find out about the app via the council or through signs put up in the park by their council. The hotspots for gaming activity were Heywood Park in Unley, Perth; the Wilson Botanic Garden in the City of Casey, Melbourne and Westward Park in Clarence Valley Council in NSW. Teresa Turner, New Plymouth District Council’s Recreation and Culture Manager, praised the app. “I think what really appealed was that families could do this together – parents and kids both could hunt for dinosaurs and fairies and swap stories about their experiences after.” GEO AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz said: “Augmented reality is a powerful tool to get kids engaged and we have had a lot of queries from schools, who would like us to develop educational content. “We have another product on our road map, which will eventually allow kids to upload their own 3D models and build their own worlds and games to share with their friends in their local park.” Brian Eales, Principal from the Clive Primary School in New Zealand voted the trial a success. “Magical Park opens up a whole new dimension for children linking the engaging world of devices and the great outdoors. “It allows for the creative use of devices and mathematical concepts while maintaining physical activity. It can strengthen the tuakana teina relationship when older students work with young students.”     Sue Wilson, Assistant Principal from the Pomaria Primary School in Henderson, Auckland agreed it had had a positive effect on children’s learning, increasing in both writing and oral language skills. While some councils are looking at bringing Magical Park back for the school holidays, permanent Magical Parks are set up in Heywood Park in the City of Unley and Rhodes Park in Kwinana. Magical Park is the second augmented reality app from Geo AR Games. The company also developed Sharks in the Park, which brought an underwater world to kids in parks across New Zealand in 2016. For more information visit www.magicalpark.net Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => Move over Pokemon, new app draws kids to urban parks [post_excerpt] => Local councils use Magical Park. 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SafeWork NSW is waiving the five-day asbestos removal work notification period to allow immediate clean-up of asbestos debris from storm-damaged properties in north east NSW.Property owners in the Ballina, Byron Shire, Kyogle, Lismore and Tweed local government areas will have their assessments fast-tracked to ensure asbestos-containing material can be removed as quickly as possible. SafeWork NSW executive director, Peter Dunphy, urged residents to seek information on the potential risks of being exposed to asbestos and how to manage it safely when cleaning up after a storm or flood. “Flood-affected homes may contain asbestos materials which need to be safely managed and removed so that the health of the community is protected,” Dunphy said. “As the State Emergency Service assesses the damage and residents begin to clean-up or repair properties, we want them to be aware of the dangers.
  Read more here. This story first appeared in INCLEAN Magazine.  [post_title] => SafeWork NSW fast tracks asbestos assessments on flood damage [post_excerpt] => Managing the clean up. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => safework-nsw-fast-tracks-asbestos-assessments-flood-damage [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:14:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:14:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26935 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26910 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-18 11:03:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:03:25 [post_content] =>   Local Government Excellence Awards Local Government Professionals NSW revealed the winners of its Oscars for local councils earlier this month. Full list below.  President LG Professionals, NSW Barry Smith said the awards recognised and showcased the pinnacle of excellence in the local government sector in NSW and significant achievements by NSW councils over the past year as well as the outstanding professional development achievements of our members. “Local government works hard for the communities in New South Wales, and we were thrilled that the Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister joined us in acknowledging the sector’s professionalism and dedication," Mr Smith said.   

Excellence in Innovative Leadership and Management

Recognising the use of superior management and leadership skills to achieve outstanding benefits for the organisation and/or for the community.   Winner: Tweed Shire Council Highly Commended: Lachlan Shire Council, City of Ryde Council Community Partnerships and Collaboration Recognising genuine and effective partnerships and collaborations that have resulted in better outcomes for council, as well as initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to working with and/or in the community to achieve positive outcomes.   Population over 15,000 Winner: Port Stephens Council Highly Commended: Blacktown City Council, Lake Macquarie City Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Warrumbungle Shire Council Excellence in Local Economic Contribution Recognising innovation in leadership and management for a project/initiative that has enhanced the economic wellbeing of their local government area and increased the value proposition to ratepayers and residents, in parts or all, of their city, town, district or region.   Winner: Liverpool City Council Highly Commended: Lake Macquarie City Council Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Recognising dedication to sustainability as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit to the environment.   Population over 100,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Canterbury-Bankstown Council, Central Coast Council   Population under 100,000 Winner: City of Canada Bay Council Highly Commended: Byron Shire Council  

Special Project Initiative

Recognising leadership where an individual, team or council has developed a concept or practice that significantly improves the business in which they work, development of processes or practices that has had a major impact on the organisation or its customers. Population over 15,000 Winner: Lake Macquarie City Council Highly Commended: Central Coast Council, North Sydney Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Hunter’s Hill Council  

Excellence in Community Development and Services

Recognising leadership in community services as evidenced by way of corporate process improvements, a particular project initiative, innovation in management and leadership practices or demonstrated practicality and resourcefulness. Winner: Canterbury-Bankstown Council Highly Commended: Cumberland Council

Excellence in Asset Management and Infrastructure Initiatives

Recognising excellence in Asset Management as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit in asset management. Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Wentworth Shire council

Excellence in Risk Management

Recognising the community and/or Council benefits (strategic, operational or financial) delivered through the identification, control and mitigation of risks within a council’s unique risk profile. Winner: Wollongong City Council Highly Commended: City of Canada Bay Council

Excellence in Creative Communities

Recognising excellence in bring together communities through art and cultural creative projects. Population over 15,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Bega Valley Shire Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Narrabri Shire Council  

Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness

The Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness Award is open to all NSW councils who have participated in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program. Winner: Willoughby City Council Dux of the Governance Intensive Course The Governance in Local Government Intensive Course has been developed to enhance the governance knowledge and skills of professionals working in the local government sector. Dux: Christine Priest, Wagga Wagga City Council Dux of the Finance Intensive Course Covering all aspects of local government finance this one week intensive residential course will benefit new finance managers, senior accounting and accounting officers or anyone with a financial background wishing to expand their knowledge of local government finance. Dux: Tracy Wilde, Sutherland Shire Council     NSW Environmental Excellence Awards Nominations are open for the NSW Environmental Excellence Awards, which celebrate councils and council staff who have done outstanding environmental work in the state. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said local government was the closest level of government to communities and had the most direct influence on local environments. "But what is often forgotten is that local government is one of the biggest sectors in the NSW economy,” Mr Rhoades said. "Councils are responsible for maintaining and upgrading $142 billion in infrastructure and land assets, including parks, reserves, roads, community facilities and water and sewerage systems. He said the sector employed more than 50,000 people and injected $11 billion into the state's economy every year. "Combine that economic power with a commitment to environmental sustainability and best practice, and you have a sector making a very real contribution to the environment in NSW." There are 15 award categories, including the prestigious Local Sustainability Award for overall council performance and the Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability awarded to an individual. They will be announced on October 11 at the University of Technology Sydney and they cover projects and programs from January 2016 to May 2017. The prize for overall winner of the Local Sustainability Award is an overseas study tour or a professional development program for staff, valued at $10,000.  Individual councils, county councils and regional council groupings are all eligible to enter, and compete against similarly sized councils in one of three levels: populations of less than 30,000; between 30,000 and 70,000; and more than 70,000.  Nomination applications close on 31 May, with further details available on LGNSW's website National Reconciliation Week funding Councils have until the end of this week to apply for federal government funding to support celebrations for National Reconciliation Week, which runs from May 27 to June 3. Celebrations are particularly poignant this year with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court decision. The funding round closes on Friday 21 April 2017. President of the Australian Local Government Association, David O’Loughlin said councils can use the funding to partner with a local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisation to mark these two historic events through activities that honour and respect their significance to all Australians. “It is a great compliment to the sector that the Turnbull Government has chosen local councils as partners in celebrating this national milestone,” Mr O’Loughlin said. “I would hate to see any council miss out so I urge all councils to submit applications for this funding via the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.” Bill Shorten to address local councils Labor leader Bill Shorten will address this year’s National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. This week, the Opposition came out in support of ALGA’s call to end the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation agreeing that local government funding has been under pressure following the 2014-15 freeze. The party called on the Government to rule out any extension of the FAGs indexation freeze beyond 30 June 2017.   The NGA is the peak annual event for local government, attracting in excess of 800 Mayors and Councillors each year. Themed Building Tomorrow’s Communities, this year’s NGA will be held from 18 - 21 June. [post_title] => Around the councils [post_excerpt] => Full list of NSW Local Government Excellence Award winners. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-the-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 14:07:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 04:07:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26910 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26720 [post_author] => 667 [post_date] => 2017-03-31 11:36:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:36:41 [post_content] => Accurate tree canopy maps enable targeted management strategies in Canberra.   In the leafy streets of a city like Canberra, a strong understanding of natural resources will prove invaluable for overcoming the challenges of climate change, sustainability and community expectations. Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) recently engaged 1Spatial to analyse and extract aerial laser scanning data to accelerate the process of establishing baseline data for Canberra’s urban tree canopy coverage. The resulting case study features TCCS and Safe Software’s FME custom workflow for canopy mapping. Using the method established, informative and current data sets can now be used to inform management strategies by overlaying age, density and condition data and proposing future canopy density targets. The establishment of current baseline data for Canberra’s urban tree canopy coverage was essential to the program. In this respect, two data sets were available: a 2010 ground-based audit of trees in streets, verge areas, open spaces and parks; and new aerial laser scanning LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data for the majority of urban areas across Canberra. Read more here.   This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Canberra tree survey cultivates a greener outlook [post_excerpt] => Establishing baseline data for Canberra’s urban tree canopy. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26720 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-31 11:38:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-31 00:38:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26720 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26574 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-20 11:50:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-20 00:50:31 [post_content] =>   The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fitted GPS trackers onto vehicles suspected of illegally dumping building and demolition waste, including asbestos. NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the trackers were fitted after a covert EPA investigation into illegal dumping last year. The trackers are fitted on a 12-month trial basis - with the owners’ knowledge - and it is illegal for drivers or owners to remove or tamper with them. If the trucks are transporting waste lawfully after this time the EPA has said it will consider removing the GPS devices. Ms Upton said the GPS system enabled the EPA to track the vehicles’ movements, alerting the authority if trucks travelled near known illegal dumping hotspots. “The NSW government is serious about cracking down on illegal dumpers – trial results show the trackers fitted to vehicles has deterred illegal activity and won’t just deter those being watched but others who think they can get away with dumping on our communities and environment,” Ms Upton said. She said the EPA would consider using tracking devices to monitor other vehicles accused of transporting or dumping waste unlawfully once the trial was complete. An EPA spokesperson said that preliminary results showed the trial had acted as a deterrent to illegal dumping, resulting in waste being transported and disposed of at lawful facilities. Local councils count the cost The scourge of illegal dumping is a huge problem for NSW and also for local councils, who are often saddled with the clean-up. Illegal dumping can be a health hazard, contaminating public land and waterways and poisoning wildlife. Dumping can also hinder roadworks and bushfire protection and block emergency access during a fire. An EPA spokesperson said that cleaning up illegally dumped material was a significant cost for local communities, councils and public land managers. She said that data showed that one in 10 LGAs spent $500,000 or more on education, enforcement, clean-up and other illegal-dumping activities each year.  A 2004 EPA survey found that construction and demolition waste made up about 12 per cent of waste illegally dumped in NSW and this is just waste the councils deal with.     The NSW government introduced tougher laws in 2014, including the power to install trackers onto vehicles and the ability to seize vehicles used in dumping offences. The fines for flouting the rules are steep. The EPA can issue on the spot fines of up to $15,000 for corporations and $7500 for individuals. If the case goes to court, a judge can impose a maximum penalty of $1 million and/or seven years prion imprisonment if an offence is committed wilfully. Illegal dumping incidents can be reported by calling the Environment Line on 131 555 or through the RID online reporting portal at ridonline.epa.nsw.gov.au   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => GPS trackers fitted to vehicles that dump illegally [post_excerpt] => Environment Protection Agency gets tough. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => gps-trackers-fitted-trucks-dump-illegally [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-19 10:45:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-19 00:45:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26574 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26551 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-15 15:57:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-15 04:57:18 [post_content] =>     By Mace Hartley, executive director, Australasian Fleet Management Association (AFMA) Australia takes its time adapting to change. Electric vehicle benefits remain unrealised, so what more can we do? Impressively, 2016 was a record year for new vehicle sales driven largely by business and rental markets with private sales delivering the worst result since 2013. For the first time since 2013 non-private sales exceeded half of total new vehicle sales (excluding heavy vehicles). The Paris Agreement in November 2015 saw over 190 countries - including Australia, US, India and China - sign an agreement to limit global warming to well below 2.0 degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5 degrees. The agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and was ratified by Australia on 9 November 2016. Australia set ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which builds on the 2020 target of reducing emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels. Further, Australia committed to contributing towards the global goal of reaching net zero emissions by the second half of this century. Transport represents 18 per cent of Australia’s total emissions. Within this, road transport accounts for 85 per cent with the largest impact being cars and light commercial vehicles at 72 per cent. Given vehicles represent a huge portion of Australia’s emissions you would think sales of alternative fueled vehicles would increase. Whilst diesel has made inroads, electric vehicles (EVs) had their worst result since 2013 with step declines from 2014 and 2015, and LPG-only vehicles continue to decline as they are no longer available in Australia. (Table 1) So, what’s stopping the uptake of EVs? There are many factors, with high vehicle price, lack of suitable vehicles and charging infrastructure topping the list. Wealthy private buyers with higher disposable cash are purchasing Teslas and BMW i3s with few other options available, whilst non-private fleets struggle to find a vehicle fit-for-purpose at reasonable pricing with Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMEV no longer available. What’s going to change? The government has recently released two draft Regulation Impact Statements for discussion and feedback. They’re called “Improving the Efficiency of New Light Vehicles” which considers the introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards which 80 per cent of the global light vehicle market already has in place in the US, EU, Canada, China, South Korea and India (amongst others), and “Vehicle Emissions Standards for Cleaner Air”, which considers the introduction of more stringent noxious emissions standards for light and heavy road vehicles which again already exists in most developed countries. How will “improving the efficiency of new light vehicles” drive an increase in EV sales? The term efficiency in this case relates to the grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer a vehicle produces. In 2015 the average efficiency of new light vehicles sold in the EU was 120g/km whilst Australia was 184g/km. There is a range of ways to introduce targets; an example from overseas, manufacturers must meet average efficiency targets across their entire vehicle portfolio. This means they can still offer higher emission vehicles but need to sell more low emissions vehicles such as EVs to reduce their overall emissions. In December, the government released its emissions projections for 2016 which includes a range of assumptions including that EVs will represent 0.5 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2020 and 15 per cent in 2030. For 2020 that’s an increase of 5,672 vehicles or 2,589 per cent over the 219 vehicles sold in 2016 and by 2030, an increase of over 176,000 vehicles or 80,594 per cent. There’s clearly much to be done. Mandatory emission targets may increase the number of EVs on offer but simply increasing availability won’t necessarily increase demand. Both state and federal governments will need to consider incentives to drive private and non-private demand. State government levers could include reductions in stamp duty, lower registration costs, dedicated road lanes and preference parking. The federal government already provides some incentive as EVs don’t pay fuel excise and other options could include removing FBT or lowering the luxury car tax for EVs. Whilst each of these measures will help, more is needed to reduce the purchase price of EVs in the short term before they reach price parity as the technology and demand matures. It’s true the cost of EVs is reducing, driven primarily by the falling cost of battery packs, which can account for about a third of the cost of the entire vehicle. In 2015, battery prices fell by 35 per cent and continuing reductions in battery prices are projected to bring the total cost of ownership of EVs below that for conventional-fuel vehicles by 2025, eight years from now! There is no doubt alternative fuel vehicles are important to Australia’s emissions targets but it’s unclear what’s going to jump start an increase in sales. There are many stakeholders working to support the uptake of low emissions vehicles, including the EV Council which has been established by industry to advise, advocate for and co-ordinate activities to support the uptake of electric vehicles, and the government continues to work through their options with the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions. Stay tuned!   Table 1: New Vehicle Sales (excl Heavy Vehicles)
  2013 2014 2015 2016
All Categories Total 1,104,531 1,081,899 1,123,224 1,145,024
Diesel 340,552 331,270 334,052 363,007
Electric 292 1,135 1,108 219
Hybrid 11,949 11,950 12,138 12,625
LPG 4,704 2,932 2,061 612
Petrol 747,034 734,612 773,865 768,561
         
All Categories Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
Diesel 30.83% 30.62% 29.74% 31.70%
Electric 0.03% 0.10% 0.10% 0.02%
Hybrid 1.08% 1.10% 1.08% 1.10%
LPG 0.43% 0.27% 0.18% 0.05%
Petrol 67.63% 67.90% 68.90% 67.12%
Table Note: This tables excludes Tesla vehicle sales as they choose not to contribute their data to VFACTS.   Stay ahead of the curve, don’t miss the 2017 Australasian Fleet Conference & Exhibition, May 11-12. Book Tickets: http://afma.net.au/conference2017/ Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Electric vehicles – How can we do more? [post_excerpt] => Jump starting an increase in sales. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => electric-vehicles-can [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-17 10:08:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-16 23:08:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26551 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26334 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-24 17:21:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-24 06:21:52 [post_content] =>   The Corkman Irish pub after demolition. Pic: Jenny Zhou, Melbourne Law School student.        Two shonky developers and their company faced 16 charges today (Friday) and up to $2 million in fines for demolishing a landmark, heritage Irish pub in Melbourne. Melbourne City Council and the state’s building authority Victorian Building Authority (VBA), laid 16 charges in Melbourne Magistrates Court against the pair and their company for illegally demolishing the 159-year-old Corkman Irish pub in Carlton during October last year. The council and the VBA spent three months investigating the illegal knock down, which was in a heritage overlay area, before laying charges against cowboy developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri and their company that owned the land, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd. The two men, who bought the pub in 2015 for $4.76 million, were charged with demolishing the Leicester Street building without a permit; refusing to obey a stop work order; not giving the council 48 hours written notice of the demolition and doing the work outside permissible hours. Mr Kutlesovski was also charged with being an unregistered demolisher. Meanwhile, 160 Leicester Pty Ltd, was charged with allowing the demolition without a permit; failing to observe a stop building work order, contravening planning legislation, carrying out demolition work outside permitted hours and not giving the council 48 hours’ notice of demolition.   The maximum penalty for each charge ranges from $3,109 to $388,650 so the two men and their company could owe up to $2 million. Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said he hoped the charges against the developers would lead to the pub being rebuilt. He told a media conference this afternoon: “These are very serious charges carrying very serious fines”. “Everything from demolishing a building, to being without a permit, to failing to observe a stop work order, and everything in between. “It’s not that we want to go into court to punish people as a consequence of what they have done, what we’d really like to see is The Corkman reinstated and that is possible.” Waste from the site, including dangerous asbestos, was later found dumped on a site the two man own in Cairnlea. They were understood to be planning a 12-storey apartment block on the flattened site.   [post_title] => They came in with a wrecking ball: Council lays charges over demolition of Melbourne Irish pub [post_excerpt] => Fines could hit $2 million. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => came-wrecking-ball-council-lays-charges-demolition-melbourne-irish-pub [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-27 10:44:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-26 23:44:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26334 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26287 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-20 12:44:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-20 01:44:03 [post_content] => Cooler streets: Concord West Sustainable Village. Pic: Canada Bay Council.     Cooler high tech streets in Canada Bay Canada Bay Council, in Sydney’s inner west, has breathed new life into one of its local shopping strips by cooling down its roads by eight degrees. The council realised that businesses were suffering because they were in full sun all day so it turned down the heat using four innovative products: Ascrete (white asphalt); TonerPave, which uses the toner from recycled printer cartridges, reclaimed asphalt pavement and warm mix, which has lower construction temperatures, takes less energy to make and has lower emissions. The results were excellent. The strip [Victoria Street], which was renamed Concord West Sustainable Village, became busier and peak visiting time was extended from 1pm to 2pm. The council’s project had social as well as economic aims: to get locals leaving their cars at home and to make the shopping strip a more communal place to be for residents. A key part of the early planning process was community engagement. The usual complaints prompted by a new road did not occur. It was so successful that residents were on board and happy with the results.   Learner drivers get free graded route maps to help them pass driving test Ku-ring-gai Council will offer learner drivers free ready-made route maps to help them build up experience and confidence before they sit their driving test. The council has developed nine separate driving routes graded according to the degree of difficulty and the required level of experience needed to pass the provisional driving test. Routes include the approximate journey time, skills to practice such as merging and advice on changing lanes and sharing the road with larger vehicles. The maps also include features for novice drivers to be aware of, such as school zones, pedestrian crossings and roads with high traffic volumes. All the nine routes are downloadable via the Council’s website at www.kmc.nsw.gov.au or a free printed booklet of the maps can be requested by phoning 9424 0000. Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson said the maps had been developed by the council’s road safety officer in cooperation with the Roads and Maritime Service. “Teaching someone to drive is a responsible and occasionally stressful experience, given the number of hours that learner drivers have to log before they can attempt a driving test,” Ms Anderson said. “Not so long ago learner drivers could use shopping centre car parks and quiet back roads to gain valuable experience. But with Sydney’s roads becoming so much busier it’s far more important to be well prepared before you go out on the road. “These prepared maps take much of the stress out of working out where to go with your learner driver.”   Council’s beach cleaning pays off Central Coast Council has improved its water quality ratings and made its beaches cleaner using a raft of measures. The council put gross pollutant traps at key locations, more bins at popular dog walking spots and asked crews to clean Macmasters Beach and Pearl Beach Rockpool four times a year. The council also invested $30 million on improving major sewerage transfer systems that service Forresters Beach, Terrigal, Avoca, North Avoca and Kincumber. Central Coast Council plans to invest a further $36 million on improving the sewerage system, sewage pumping stations and sewage treatment plants throughout the former Gosford Local Government Area. The council manages and tests 44 swimming sites across the region, including beaches, lagoons, lakes and baths, in collaboration with the Office of Environment and Heritage. Of all the sites, 28 returned very good or good water quality ratings in the Office of Environment and Heritage’s annual BeachWatch reports. The results of a recent report for five beach swimming areas – Terrigal Lagoon, Copacabana Beach, Pearl Beach Bath, Ocean Beach and Lighthouse Beach - have improved as a result of Central Coast Council’s management. [post_title] => Around the councils: Cooling streets, cleaning up beaches [post_excerpt] => Roads eight degrees cooler using white asphalt. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-councils-cooling-streets-cleaning-beaches [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-21 12:41:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-21 01:41:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26287 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26273 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-17 11:09:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-17 00:09:19 [post_content] =>       The NSW Container Deposit scheme (CDS) will be delayed by five months to give local councils and industry and environment groups longer to prepare. NSW Environment and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton said the CDS would be rolled out from December 1, 2017 rather than from July, as originally planned. It also means the cash for cans program will have broader coverage across the state and take in more rural and regional areas. Ms Upton said groups such as Clean Up Australia and the Boomerang Alliance, as well as drinks industry stakeholders had asked for an extension. “This will be the biggest initiative to tackle litter in the state’s history – stakeholder feedback is vital to get the scheme right,” Ms Upton said. Under the scheme, NSW residents can return most empty drink containers between 150 ml and three litres to collection points in return for a 10-cent refund. The aim is to significantly reduce the estimated 160 million drink containers littered every year and ease the burden on local councils.   Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades called it ‘an eminently sensible decision’. "Councils spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year picking up litter, and would much prefer to be investing this money in other community services,” Mr Rhoades said.  "The scheme has the potential to cut litter in NSW by up to 43 per cent, but the complexity of the collection and refund processes required have become increasingly clear.” He said the five-month extension would make it easier to ensure the supporting infrastructure and resources were in place before the scheme began, as well as rolling it out to other local government areas. Boomerang Alliance Director Jeff Angel said the Alliance fought hard for the container deposit scheme and wanted to ensure it would work efficiently for the community and business to maximise the environmental benefits. “The Alliance understood that getting the container deposit scheme up and running was a very complicated process. It’s better to delay the implementation by a few months, so the scheme is ready from day one,” Mr Angel said. Industry groups were also pleased about the delay. Tanya Barden, Director of Economics and Sustainability Australian Food and Grocery Council, said the drinks industry supported an efficient and effective container deposit scheme in NSW. “We’re pleased that the NSW Government has listened to industry and environmental groups’ views about the complexity of introducing such as scheme. This extension allows the time to put the fundamentals in place so that the scheme can operate smoothly for both consumers and industry,” Ms Barden said. The 2015-2016 National Litter Index found that 49 per cent of litter by volume was made up of beverage containers – and 43 per cent of the total volume was containers that will be caught by the NSW container deposit scheme. Ms Upton said container deposit schemes operate in more than 40 jurisdictions around the world and are a proven and efficient way to recover litter and increase recycling of beverage containers. [post_title] => NSW container deposit scheme delayed until December [post_excerpt] => Move welcomed by councils. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26273 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-19 10:46:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-19 00:46:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26273 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26217 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-10 10:36:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-09 23:36:46 [post_content] =>   NSW public buildings could double as chill out areas for the elderly and other people at risk trying to escape this weekend’s predicted heatwave, says the Opposition. As the state contemplates sweating through temperatures of up to 45 degrees in inland areas, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called upon NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to trial designating public buildings such as council chambers, libraries and art galleries as 'respite cooling centres' for the elderly and families. It has been done before. Mildura in Victoria has an emergency community cooling centre where the elderly can seek relief from the heat and the Canadian city of Toronto has opened cooling centers during heatwaves. Some Eastern European cities have heating centres during cold snaps. Mr Secord said public buildings with air-conditioning could stay open longer to provide shelter for people looking to avoid the extreme temperatures. “State governments need to have contingency plans for extraordinary events and extreme hot weather is one such event,” said Mr Secord. “We want to minimise the effect of heat stress on the most vulnerable in our society; this is about protecting them. Unfortunately, these soaring temperatures are set to continue – and they hit the young and the elderly the hardest.” He said it was easier for younger people and families to avoid the heat because they could go to shopping malls, the cinema, parks or beaches but the elderly and less mobile found this more difficult. NSW Health says those most at risk from the high temperatures are the elderly, pregnant women, babies and other children, people with chronic conditions and those whose immune systems are compromised. Meanwhile, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has predicted that demand for electricity in NSW will be the highest ever, peaking between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on Saturday, and expected to reach around 14,700 megawatts. NSW residents are being urged to reduce their energy use, where they can. Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said people should turn up their air con to 26 degrees, adjust fridge temperatures and switch off appliances and lights, where possible. Mr Harwin said that despite the heat the electricity networks were comfortable there would be no break in supply. “We are working with AEMO, TransGrid and generators to ensure that all generation capacity is operating including coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar,” Mr Harwin said. “The government is taking additional steps to reduce peak demand, including in government operations. If required the networks will consider load shedding to manage peak demand.” Load shedding is where AEMO orders power companies to begin switching off customers’ power supply to protect the power system from black outs. “I am being kept up to date on the situation and if further action is to be taken we will make sure that the energy companies are informing their customers, and we will update the community as we know more,” he said. In other news, the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World continues with a public hearing in Canberra today (Friday). The Committee will explore how Australia’s electricity networks will cope with increased power demands from severe weather events in the future, including exploring emerging technologies. The committee is due to report to the Senate on or before 24 March 2017.   [post_title] => Council chambers could be used as respite cooling centres during NSW heatwave [post_excerpt] => No blackouts, says government. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-chambers-used-respite-cooling-centres-heatwave [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-15 16:10:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-15 05:10:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26217 [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] => 27042 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-04 10:27:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-04 00:27:37 [post_content] =>   Cumberland Council will press ahead with a controversial plan to outsource kerbside waste and recycling before September’s local government elections. The Western Sydney suburbs council, born out of a forced merger between Holroyd and Auburn Councils and part of Parramatta in May 2016, has put the council’s waste and recycling services out to tender with a deadline of May 26. Up for grabs are services include kerbside garbage; recyclables; organics and garden waste; council clean ups and picking up dumped rubbish and this covers around  70,000 housesholds. This translates annually into dealing with around 60,000 tonnes of garbage; 14,000 tonnes of recycling and 5,500 tonnes of organic and green waste, as well as two to four council clean ups a year and collecting dumped rubbish within 24 hours of it being reported. Government News understands that new contractors could take over from as early as August. They will manage the transition to a new service and begin a four-year contract from January 2019 with the option to extend this by three years. Council Administrator Viv May commissioned reviews into council services, including garbage collection and council swimming pools, after taking over last year. The waste review, written by council officers, showed a marked preference towards outsourcing services to the private sector and argued that the council could cut its costs by 20 per cent through bigger contracts and reduced operating costs. Most of the council’s waste and recycling services are currently delivered by council garbos, apart from waste services in Woodville Ward, which used to come under Parramatta Council, and the recyclables collection in the former Holroyd Council area. Mr May has copped flak from former Holroyd Mayor Greg Cummings, as well as resistance from the United Services Union (USU), which represents local government workers in NSW. Mr Cummings said Mr May was ‘overstepping his responsibilities’ and driving changes through before the council went into caretaker mode in early August. “This is done at break-neck speed to make sure it’s done before an elected council can review it,” Mr Cummings said. “By all means collect the information and get a report but it should be there ready for the democratically elected council to review.” Mr Cummings said Mr May was known to be an enthusiastic advocate of outsourcing and had a track record in that area. Mr May spent 27 years as Mosman Council’s General Manager where he outsourced the council’s  outdoor work and reduced council employed outdoor workers from more than 100 to six. Mr Cummings also criticised the council for omitting diversion to landfill in the tender. He said that the former Holroyd Council had managed to divert 62 per cent of green waste from landfill using UR-3R alternative waste treatment plant in Eastern Creek. But Cumberland Council’s Group Manager, Roads and Waste Peter Fitzgerald defended the decision to go out to competitive tender. He said the council’s review estimated it would yield more than $16 million in savings and ensure a more consistent service. It would also finally give Woodville ward residents a green waste bin so they would no longer have to trek to the council’s depot. “Given that the existing contract for waste services in the Woodville ward expires in November this year council could not wait any longer to make a decision about the provision of waste services,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “Council must provide a consistent service to all residents irrespective of which part of the council area they live in.” He said around 34 council staff would be affected by decision. “All affected council staff have been assured that if they want a job with council they will still have a job with council, regardless of the decision to call tenders for these services,” Mr Fitzgerald said. Mr May told Government News in October last year that Administrators had the same powers as mayors and councillors and would make decisions accordingly.  The USU is not convinced and has come out against the outsourcing plans, arguing that service levels will drop and rates will rise. It led a public rally against Cumberland Council outsourcing in February. The USU website says of the tender: “We all know that private waste collection companies don’t care about ratepayers or the local community, they only care about one thin: delivering profit margins to their shareholders. “The contractors won’t have time to do missed services or go the extra mile by taking your bin in if you can’t. Yes, that’s what the hard working council garbos do for the community.” But disentangling the legacy of three different councils’ waste and recycling services will not be easy. The council will have to pay out staff redundancies and long service leave along with paying penalties on any contracts which are terminated early, some of which do not expire until 2020. The United Services Union has been contacted for comment. More to follow. [post_title] => Merged NSW council outsources rubbish and recycling before councillors elected [post_excerpt] => Union and ex-mayor enter fray. 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