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                    [post_content] => 

Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’?

  Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), representing companies responsible for the majority of container transport to and from the Port of Melbourne, has called on the Andrews’ Victorian Labor Government to help container transport operators get a ‘fair go’ in the toll pricing to use the West Gate Tunnel. CTAA was responding to the announcements by the Victorian Premier that a consortium headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors has been selected to build the West Gate Tunnel Project (formally known as the Western Distributor Project) to commence in early 2018, and that once completed, there would be 24/7 ‘bans’ on trucks on roads in the inner west of Melbourne. CTAA director Neil Chambers said: “Not surprisingly, container transport operators in the inner and outer Western industrial suburbs undertake numerous truck trips to and from the Port of Melbourne during the day, at night and on weekends, to service vital container trade volumes through the biggest container port in Australia.” “The original government business case called for Transurban to consider a reduced toll price for transport operators undertaking these shuttle operations, as well as suitable trip caps, and the favourable treatment of Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles.”   Read more here.  This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’? [post_excerpt] => 24/7 'ban' on trucks in inner western Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-west-gate-tunnel-ban-trucks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26841 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25877 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 10:13:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-19 23:13:18 [post_content] => Strong lumberjack chopping wood, chips fly apart   Victoria’s local councils are up in arms over a two per cent rate cap set for next year and say they may have to slash services. The rate cap is 0.5 per cent lower than that set in 2016-2017 by the Andrews government, which reintroduced rate capping for local government in the state this year. The strict approach to council rate capping has long been mirrored in NSW. NSW local councils were told by Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal last month that they cannot increase their rates by more than 1.5 per cent because of low inflation and sluggish wage growth. The 19 new amalgamated NSW councils have been banned from seeking a special rate variation over the cap. The peak body for Victorian local councils, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), said the rate cap “smacks of double standards”. MAV Interim President Coral Ross said state property taxes were set to rise by 5.2 per cent and state government wages were 7.8 per cent higher this year, according to last week’s budget update. “Council rates are being restricted to less than half uncapped state property taxes, while the government is also stinging Victorians with out of control increases in state employee costs.” Ms Ross said. “Under a two per cent rate cap, many councils will struggle to meet their community service and asset renewal obligations next year.” City of Greater Geelong’s Chief Executive Kelvin Spiller told the Geelong Advertiser this week that rate capping was a big hurdle for councils.  “Expectations and demand for services and infrastructure are increasing while potential revenue sources are diminishing,” Mr Spiller said. “The budget planning process for 2017-18 is underway but we are yet to determine whether we will need to apply for an exemption.” Ms Ross said councils had managed to shield their communities from service cuts last year but this would become increasinglydifficult as the cost of service delivery and infrastructure renewal exceeded the Consumer Price Index, which is what the government uses to set its rate cap. Councils had already responded to rate capping with organisational reviews and restructures, reducing fleet sizes, lowering staffing and procurement costs but there was no fat left to trim. “There comes a point where councils will have to make difficult decisions about no longer being able to afford all the services their communities currently rely on,” she said. The situation is particularly acute for rural councils, which usually have a lower rates base and a heavy infrastructure burden, such as repairing and replacing roads and bridges. Ms Ross said “extensive evidence” had been presented to the parliamentary inquiry into rate capping and the Brown Review of the Essential Services Commission which said that rate capping would have a negative impact on asset renewal and replacement in rural areas. MAV is calling for the state's Labor government to reinstate funding for rural local roads under the Country Roads and Bridges program and to make it easier and cheaper for councils to apply to the Essential Services Commission for rate cap variations. [post_title] => Victorian local council rates outcry: Will services suffer? [post_excerpt] => Rate cap set at 2 per cent. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => victorian-local-council-rates-outcry-will-services-get-cut [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 10:54:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-19 23:54:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25877 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24033 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-06-01 14:16:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-06-01 04:16:58 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24036" align="alignnone" width="300"]fishermans bend 2_opt 'Gritty' vs gentrification; laneways now a feature.[/caption]   Forget sterile riverfront ghettos of luxury high-rise apartments, these days it's a Green Star that sells big new city builds. Australia’s largest inner-urban redevelopment project, the massive industrial zone of Fishermans Bend on Melbourne’s Yarra River, will now officially be Green Star rated blend of mixed residential and commercial buildings embedded into abundant parkland and served by a new industries employment hub that overtly shuns private car use for public and active transport. That’s the latest vision for what was once Melbourne’s sprawling industrial and manufacturing heartland as it attempts to transform to become home 80,000 residents and 60,000 workers serviced by new rail, tram and bus links bolstered by dedicated walkways and cycle paths for commuters. And it’s just doubled in size. Victoria’s Daniel Andrews Government (Labor) late last week moved decisively to “recast” the masterplan for the giant area, most notably upping its total development footprint size from around 250 hectares outlined in 2012 to 465 hectares – but significantly it also mandated ‘Green Star’ requirements to embed sustainability. [caption id="attachment_24035" align="alignnone" width="300"]Fishermans Bend 1_opt Freight rail and heavy links will be kept.[/caption]   It flips the position of the previous Baillieu-Napthine Government (Coalition) – which only lasted one term in office – that had made a point of snubbing any real mandate to enforce sustainability requirements on the huge development on the basis the standards created unnecessary ‘Green Tape’. With local governments, developers, property investors and planning experts all supporting the Green Star measures, it was at best a confused start to what many believe will become Australia’s exemplar of a new-age urban environment. Snatching an easy political free kick, the Andrews government wasted little time in locking down sustainability requirements that have gone from being a ‘nice-to-have’ credential for office and home buyers to something that actively lifts property values. Deprioritising private car travel is a major feature of the new masterplan, as is heavily diversifying the blend of developments to mix in more affordable dwelling stock with a big nod to the area’s industrial past by creating a “network of gritty streets and laneways.” “Fishermans Bend needs to be designed to encourage residents and commuters to get around by walking, cycling or catching public transport. The Victorian Government—via the Taskforce—will develop a flexible and adaptable plan that meets this need,” the new Draft Report report says. Citing Plan Melbourne 2016, the vision outlined for “housing supply, diversity and choice” says it will now “have a stronger emphasis on getting more diverse and affordable homes built—articulating long-term land use policies and reforms to meet projected housing needs and expand housing choice and affordability.”

Green with envy

It’s a logical step given that commercial and residential property developers, not to mention more and more high profile corporations and business groups are now openly embracing and promoting green building designs to cultivate kudos with customers, investors and staff by showing they care. Part of the big appeal is that Green Star-rated buildings don’t just have lower emissions and a smaller environmental footprint, they generally have substantially lower running costs too, making them more commercially appealing. The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), which developed the Green Star building ratings standard to guide the planning of sustainable communities and precincts, is chalking up the move to mandate its ratings at the Fishermans Bend development as a very big win. “This is something industry has been calling for over a number of years, and we are delighted that the Andrews Government has responded so positively,” said GBCA chief executive, Romilly Madew. “The significance of the site, the scale of the project, and the far-reaching implications of ‘getting it right’ make achieving a Green Star – Communities rating an essential component of smart, sustainable planning.” But it’s the strong backing of the Property Council of Australia for the Green Star ratings that perhaps most conspicuously drives home the appetite of major business groups to be seen to be acting on sustainability, even if it sometimes means being politically incorrect. “Three years ago the Property Council urged the Government to endorse the Green Star – Communities rating tool at Fishermans Bend to support sustainable, resilient and liveable communities,” said the Property Council of Australia’s Acting Victorian Executive Director, Asher Judah. “It is exciting to see the Government commit to this important sustainability reform.” [caption id="attachment_24037" align="alignnone" width="300"]fishermans bend 3_opt Connected communities start with transport.[/caption]

What will Fishermans Bend look like now?

With sustainable, liveable cities now at the front of many state and the federal government’s planning agenda, Victoria’s Planning Minister Richard Wynne is heavily pushing the need for government to get the key infrastructure building blocks for major infill projects right from the design phase. In the introduction of the “recast” Fishermans Bend Draft plan, he takes clear swipe at the short-term trend to maximise yields by throwing up stand-alone high-rise apartment complexes. “We need to tackle challenges such as public transport, schools, community services and public spaces now, rather than putting up residential towers and hoping for the best,” Mr Wynne said. “Fishermans Bend has a rich history,” he says. “It was the birthplace of Australia’s aviation industry and, for decades, was the heart and soul of Australia’s automotive manufacturing. Now, we have the chance to make it a benchmark for smart, sustainable development and high-density community living.” To give Melburnians a sense of what Fishermans Bend can become, the draft vison document put out by the government tries to outline the development by presenting it in a “future perspective” – or writing about it in the present tense as if it’s now 2050. “Known as backcasting, this technique describes a future we would like to see, then identifies the strategies required to make that future attainable,” the paper says. “Melbourne is a now a city approaching 8 million people and experiences more hot days and extreme weather events. The city also operates in an increasingly connected and competitive global environment. Fishermans Bend plays a vital role in ensuring that Melbourne meets the challenges and seizes the opportunities of this changing world,” says one futuristic passage. “A generous tree canopy keeps Fishermans Bend cool in summer. Not only are the public spaces green – so, too, are the buildings. The buildings incorporate vertical and roof-top greening—saving water while supporting a rich biodiversity throughout the area. A network of leafy boulevards and green links connect neighbourhoods and public spaces, providing a focus for city life as well as high quality public transport, walking and cycling Infrastructure,” says another. One of the more radical visons for the dense-but-green model cluster of communities is the removal of cars from the transport mix. “Car parking has been reduced. In fact, less than one-in-five trips are now made by private car. Instead, the efficient and direct public transport network reduces traffic congestion and carbon emissions,” the draft vison says. Also in the mix are “strong links” of dedicated cycling and walking links across the new suburbs – five in total, as well as purpose build water recycling. The draft vision also clearly wants to grab the opportunity to make the massive development an enviable place to work, dedicating a large tract of land to become what it says should become “Australia’s leading design, engineering and advanced manufacturing precinct”. “The Fishermans Bend Employment Precinct is a world renowned location for innovative industries, attracting international investment and producing world-leading research, engineering, technology and products. Its economy is highly productive and profitable, but with a low environmental impact, and complements Fishermans Bend as a whole through compatible land uses,” the draft vision says. If that sounds familiar, it could be because the description could be used in a sales brochure for almost any commercial office park in Australia, many of which – like Sydney’s Australian Technology Park in Redfern – ultimately become drive-in, drive out affairs for day workers and ghost towns at night. Or Canberra, which has until recently struggled badly to create any kind of cosmopolitan vibe after dark thanks to heavy planning designations that for decades segregated commerce, work and industry from residential areas. There may still be many unanswered many questions around the latest incarnation for Fishermans Bend, but at least Melbourne is daring to dream again. [post_title] => Australia's biggest urban redevelopment finally gets Green Star status [post_excerpt] => Walls and rooftops planted. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => green-star-go-ahead-for-australias-biggest-redevelopment [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-06-09 22:27:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-06-09 12:27:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24033 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23737 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-04-27 16:51:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-27 06:51:58 [post_content] => Budget1_opt (1)   The peak body for Victorian local government has accused State Premier Daniel Andrews of presenting a budget that squeezes local councils while using its budget surplus to spend up big on other areas. President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) Bill McArthur said he welcomed expenditure on infrastructure, childcare, schools, sport and public transport but said councils were still being left to do the heavy lifting when it came to funding core community services, something that will become harder for them to do since as a 2.5 per cent rate cap kicks in. Mr McArthur said the State Budget showed Victoria was in a strong financial position but councils were still suffering from cost-shifting. “However, there’s a worrying budget double standard at play,” Mr McArthur said. “The Government reaped 15 per cent growth in property taxes over the past year while imposing a 2.5 per cent cap on council rates, leaving ratepayers to fund the State’s shortfalls for maternal and child health, school crossings and public libraries.” He said “massive infrastructure investment” which would boost Victorian jobs and productivity but lamented that the government had “failed to restore equitable funding for core community services co-funded with councils.” “When the State is in such a strong financial position, there is no excuse for the continued cost shifting onto ratepayers, while maintaining a pretence that the Government is on the side of ratepayers,” he said. “The budget doesn’t deal with the State’s massive under-investment in recurrent operational funding for public libraries. Ratepayers continue to shoulder an unfair 82 per cent of the financial burden, while the State’s contribution has dwindled from 50 per cent to just 18 per cent." Mr McArthur said there were other positives for councils in the budget, such as $4.2 million in planning support for councils, $4 million for councils to manage roadside weeds and pests and $8.2 million for the operation of rural kinders and occasional care. The Premier will also increase investment in maternal and child health to $133 million, which Mr McArthur called “a step towards restoring 50:50 funding.” “Councils will also welcome the strong investment in public transport, together with $10 million for early learning centres in growth areas, a $50 million Growing Suburbs Fund, $22.4 million in capital funding for public libraries and continued investment in sporting facilities," he said. MAV is keen to sign formal agreements for the community services it delivers in partnership with the state. “As a matter of principle, local government investment should only continue as long as the Government maintains its matched funding contribution.” Mr McArthur said the government should also reinstate the $160 million Country Roads and Bridges to help rural communities. “Rate capping has placed enormous strain on rural shires who have limited revenue, small populations and extensive road networks.” “Doing more with less only stretches so far. Without extra State investment, rural people face living in a two-tier society as councils struggle to maintain local roads and provide core services. Victorians have a right to expect a minimum level of community services, regardless of where they live.” [post_title] => Budget double standard: Victoria’s local councils [post_excerpt] => Victoria in surplus but councils still squeezed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => budget-double-standard-victorias-local-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-03 09:25:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-02 23:25:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23737 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23068 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-02-16 10:54:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-15 23:54:10 [post_content] => Welcome, baby!   Victorian councils hit by the imposition of municipal rate caps have issued a stern warning that the state government it will need to spend more on the State Emergency Service, school crossings and public libraries to prevent services being cut. The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) says the restrictions on how much money councils can raise directly from communities means that the state government will no longer be able to cost shift to the local government sector without services being cut because of financial shortfalls. “For decades, an increasing range of services have been provided by councils under shared funding agreements with the State. The MAV’s data shows that over time, the State’s contribution has reduced, stopped completely or not kept pace with costs - leaving ratepayers to foot the bill,” MAV President Cr Bill McArthur said. “Many agreements were originally 50:50 funding splits with the State like school crossing supervisors and SES units. Councils have struggled to maintain their own expanding emergency service responsibilities, and for years have voiced concerns about being unable to meet the increasing costs of the SES units.” The pushback by councils comes as many municipalities prepare for a bleak end of financial year and contemplate where they will need to slash costs to remain above water. Emergency services provided by volunteers are at the top of the list, with councils arguing that SES units at the frontline of community support and assistance during disasters require funding on par with regular state emergency services. “SES units should not be relying on councils, fundraisers and community goodwill to do such important work protecting our communities,” Cr McArthur said. “Councils have struggled to maintain their own expanding emergency service responsibilities, and for years have voiced concerns about being unable to meet the increasing costs of the SES units.” Local governments also want inadequate library funding brought to book, warning that an annual funding gap of $73 million has opened up for councils who now fund 83 per cent of public library services. According to MAV, that deficit comes despite an original agreement with the state government that library services would be funded on a 50:50 split. MAV has similarly warned that maternal and child health services are short $13 million for 2016-2016 because what was meant to be an even split is now closer to 60:40. “State cost shifting in excess of $140 million a year onto ratepayers for four services is just the tip of the iceberg. It's simply not sustainable. Keeping rates low for communities is ideal, but only if it doesn’t come at the cost of losing vital services due to a lack of State funding,” Cr McArthur said. The MAV President also hit out at planning fees set by the State Government that “have not been indexed consistently since 2000” creating a $12 million black hole for ratepayers. [post_title] => VIC maternal health, public libraries eroded by rate caps [post_excerpt] => Councils warn of critical funding shortfalls. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => vic-maternal-health-public-libraries-eroded-by-rate-caps [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-16 10:57:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-15 23:57:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23068 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22324 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-12-02 13:18:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-12-02 02:18:17 [post_content] => Victoria’s local councils are alarmed that their roads, bridges and community buildings will deteriorate and their financial position dramatically weaken, in the wake of last week’s decision to reintroduce ratecapping to the state.   Victoria’s Labor Premier Dan Andrews took his promise to cap local council rates into the November 2014 election. The recently passed Local Government Act Amendment Bill to establish the Fair Go Rates system will force councils to apply to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) to raise rates above the Melbourne Consumer Price Index. Now, Victoria’s 79 councils are anxiously waiting to hear at what level the cap will be set and whether it will be flexible and vary between different types of councils, such as rural or metropolitan. The ESC previously recommended a rate cap of 3.05 per cent for every council but Government News understands this is at Victorian Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchin’s discretion. There are indications that a wage component will be included in addition to the Melbourne CPI. The decision is expected to be made this month as councils prepare their budgets. Government News spoke to Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) President Bill McArthur about what the reintroduction of ratecapping could mean to local government, especially in the light of the recent Victorian Auditor General’s-Office (VAGO) Report on the local government sector and the experience of NSW councils under ratecapping. The November 2015 VAGO report, which was generally upbeat about local government in the state, showed that Victoria’s local councils generated a $1.5 billion surplus in 2014-2015 and declared them generally financially sustainable and low risk. But the Auditor-General’s report itself notes: “this strong position may be impacted by the imposition of ratecapping.” This is a far cry from the NSW Government, which recently labelled nearly two-thirds of the state’s 152 councils ‘not fit’ under its Fit for the Future program and is forcefully advocating a sweeping program of council mergers, the verdict on which is expected before Christmas. NSW local councils have long laid the blame for the state’s $447 annual infrastructure gap on ratecapping, which was introduced in 1978, and said the situation has been aggravated by last year’s three-year federal freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) and cost-shifting from other levels of government. With the Victorian state government poised to introduce ratecapping, MAV fears that its councils could suffer the same fate. Mr McArthur said that history showed the severe impacts of ratecapping, after Victoria’s then Labor Premier Jeff Kennett brought in a three-year ratecapping regime in the 1990s. “When they realised the impact the ratecapping was having on the ability of councils to operate efficiently and effectively for their communities they removed the cap and introduced a range of funding initiatives but it was too late to save Jeff Kennett,” Mr McArthur said. During the nineties there was a “real decline” in spending on infrastructure and faster deterioration in roads, community buildings and other assets, which ended up costing future generations more, he said, but this time around he said it would hit councils harder because the expectations on them had intensified. “Back in the early nineties, councils weren’t involved in delivering a whole range of services on behalf of other levels of government,” he said. “That service delivery has increased dramatically since the nineties.” Mr McArthur said the ratio of state or federal funding to cash contributed by local councils for services such as libraries or school crossing supervisors had swung heavily against local government, which was picking up an increasing proportion of the tab. Asked if there was a real danger Victorian Councils could being to emulate the NSW experience, he said: “We are asking that question. What will suffer?” “We are well and truly aware of the NSW model were the gap in infrastructure renewal is massive compared to here in Victoria. I’ve lived through it all before [from the Kennett years].” But he said some of the process was “unknown and still unfolding” and MAV would be closely monitoring the impact of ratecapping on council services and infrastructure and making sure councils were open and honest with ratepayers about what was occurring. Victoria’s rural councils were the most vulnerable to the negative effects of ratecapping because they had a dwindling rates' base and less opportunity to raise revenue through other sources, such as parking fines and services. In addition, under the new rate capping legislation, the ESC had pledged to put extra scrutiny placed on additional revenue raised by councils. Mr Andrews axed the government’s Country Roads and Bridges initiative earlier this year, which added to the misery of rural councils. “Councils are really reliant on other levels of government to maintain support or finding other revenue sources, particularly rural councils. It’s [ratecapping] a massive change.” The VAGO Report The report found that the state’s councils generated a $1 billion surplus in 2014-2015, up from from $923.6 million the year before. The ten councils ringing metropolitan Melbourne recorded the largest revenue surplus, notching up $555 million, partly due to developer contributions from population growth and burgeoning infrastructure and development. Mr McArthur said the healthy balance sheet was largely down to the Commonwealth Government's decision to bring forward the payment of half of the 2015–16 financial assistance grants into the 2014–15 year. “It’s not actually a surplus when you really talk about it. It’s committed money that’s been either grant money carried forward but earmarked to be spent. Councils are not building up a pot of gold," he said. But the Auditor-General identified a $225 million asset renewal gap due to council-owned assets deteriorating faster than councils can fund their maintenance, renewal and replacement and said  some councils were already failing to keep pace, especially rural councils. Mr McArthur said: “This is projected to grow to $2.6 billion by 2026. If rate capping is introduced, it will result in a long-term devastating impact on the quality and availability of local roads and community facilities across Victoria.” National council peak body, the Australian Local Government Association found that $47 billion of local infrastructure was in "poor condition" and needed upgrades, or about 11 per cent of $438 billion of local infrastructure nationwide, in its latest annual National State of the Assets report this year. [post_title] => Ratecapping redux: Victorian councils fear NSW councils’ fate [post_excerpt] => The introduction of ratecapping in Victoria has cast a shadow over its local councils. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => ratecapping-redux-victorian-councils-fear-nsw-councils-fate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-12-03 19:34:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-12-03 08:34:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22324 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22012 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-11-03 11:04:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-03 00:04:14 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_22038" align="alignnone" width="300"]London, UK NSW councils want to be financially unleashed[/caption]   The Baird Government in New South Wales has again hit out at resistant councils opposing a strong push to cull their numbers across the state by around a third to 100 entities after Local Government Minister Paul Toole emphatically rejected a Legislative Council inquiry report that strongly criticised the merger push and called for an end to rate capping. As councils across the state rush to thrash out voluntary options for amalgamations over the next fortnight, Mr Toole has attacked the Upper House report’s findings and said that the Committee “had chosen to ignore much of the evidence that supported council structural reform” in the state government's formal response. The Upper House report is highly unlikely to dissuade the Baird from pursuing its ‘merge or be merged’ reforms based on the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s ‘Fit for the Future’ assessment. But the report’s recommendations are certain to be seized upon by angry minor parties and independents preparing to block legislation. So far the Shooters and Fishers, Greens, Christian Democrats, independent Alex Greenwich and the Labor opposition have all come out swinging against forcing mergers, making the government’s next moves unclear. The most controversial recommendation in the Upper House report is a call for the state government to “evaluate the option of the removal of rate pegging and allow councils to determine their own rates conditional on the delivery of a local works plan outlining the expenditure associate with any proposed rate increases and demonstrated community support.” Councils in NSW have for decades blamed rate capping as the source of many of their financial woes because the politically popular mechanism inhibits their ability to raise revenue directly to pay for infrastructure and major projects. The bid to free-up new money, rather than cut costs, drew a swift and blunt rejection from Mr Toole, who labelled it a recipe for “higher rates, a growing infrastructure backlog and ultimately the collapse of some local councils.” “Rates in NSW have been capped to protect the community from high rate rises. This report calls for that safeguard to be scrapped,” Mr Toole said. Until the victory of Labor in the Victorian state election this year, New South Wales had been the only state to enforce rate capping on councils, which has been in place since 1978. In late October 2015 the Daniel Andrews Labor government introduced legislation to peg council rate increases to the Consumer Price Index after running hard with the pledge during the election campaign. Angry councils claim a big part of their financial woes is cost shifting by those further up the political food chain. A notable recommendation of the NSW Upper House report into Local Government is that the state government there “eschews future cost shifting and commits to providing adequate funding to local government for any new services, assets or regulatory functions that it devolves to local councils.” However the NSW Legislative Council report is not entirely dismissive on revenue and spending controls. One ambitious recommendation suggests that limits on donations to local government candidates and their campaign be capped during local government elections. Another yet unresolved issue in the merger process is how much it will cost councils that are amalgamating to transition across and integrate stand-alone systems like financials, HR and payroll, asset and contract management and other administrative machinery and processes. While the prospect of running fewer systems and products is outwardly appealing, by far one of the biggest risks for cost blowouts is the migration and integration of business software systems. An added headache to that is as councils necessarily downsize their back office and administrative teams, decades of corporate memory essential for smooth transitions often walks out the door with a redundancy package. The Legislative Council report strongly urges the Baird Government to think carefully how it treats senior management in councils amid any merger process. It specifically recommends that “the NSW Government implement a program to assist and support senior staff affected by amalgamations, particularly those staff in regional areas who may need to relocate if their position is lost through an amalgamation.” [post_title] => Call to end NSW rate capping [post_excerpt] => Unfit councils to be culled instead. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => call-to-end-nsw-rate-capping [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-03 11:04:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-03 00:04:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22012 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21659 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-10-07 13:22:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-07 02:22:33 [post_content] => Cannabis Victoria has beaten NSW to the punch and legalised locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from 2017. State Premier Dan Andrews announced the decision yesterday (October 6) to make cannabis available to people in “exceptional circumstances”. This includes treatment for: muscle spasm or severe pain from multiple sclerosis; severe pain, nausea, vomiting or wasting from cancer or HIV/AIDS; epileptic seizures where other treatments have failed; and for people suffering severe chronic pain, where two specialists have granted approval. Mr Andrews said he was delivering on an election commitment to allow medicinal cannabis for terminally ill people. “I’ve seen first-hand how medicinal cannabis can change people’s lives,” he said. “This landmark reform means Victorian families will no longer have to decide between breaking the law and watching their child suffer.” The decision also heralds the birth of cannabis cultivation and manufacturing industries in Victoria, necessary in order to establish an ongoing, reliable supply for patients. The government will begin a cultivation trial at a Victorian research facility, to be overseen by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. This department will gain new powers to regulate licensed growers who are cultivating cannabis for medicinal purposes. The go-ahead follows a report by the Victorian Law Reform Commissioner, who was asked to explore how the law could be changed to help those in severe pain to safely access medicinal cannabis. The Commissioner’s Report on Medicinal Cannabis, tabled in Parliament tabled yesterday, includes 42 recommendations and addresses key issues including: • Cultivation, manufacture and supply of high quality medicinal cannabis products within Victoria • Patient eligibility • Appropriate clinical oversight involving specialists, general practitioners, nurses and pharmacists • The need for ongoing research and clinical trials A new Office of Medicinal Cannabis will be establish within the Department of Health and Human Services with the remit of overseeing the manufacture and dispensing of cannabis, as well as developing clinical guidance and encouraging new research. NSW Premier Mike Baird approved clinical trials of medicinal cannabis for terminally ill adults in July this year, but they will not start until early 2016. Meanwhile, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Stephen Johns, congratulated Mr Andrews but also pushed for a national medicinal cannabis scheme. “State by state regulation means a person's access to pain relief is determined by where they live,” Mr Joseph said. “The registration and scheduling of medicines is the exclusive responsibility of the federal government. There are also a range of other implications related to possession, trafficking and supply of cannabis in federal laws. “Labor believes in a national approach based on medical science, not prejudice.” [post_title] => Medicinal cannabis legalised in Victoria [post_excerpt] => New cannabis industry to emerge. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => medicinal-cannabis-legalised-in-victoria [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-09 09:47:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-08 22:47:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21659 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21484 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-09-21 15:04:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-21 05:04:31 [post_content] =>   [caption id="attachment_21485" align="alignnone" width="300"]turnbull train Malcolm takes the train[/caption] The new broom sweeping through Canberra may have significant consequences for major state government rail projects. Malcolm Turnbull has specifically repudiated his predecessor Tony Abbott’s comment that Commonwealth government funding for infrastructure should be limited to roads. Turnbull, a noted bus and train traveller, said the Commonwealth should not discriminate between modes of transportation. “There is no ‘roads are not better than mass transit’ or vice versa, each has their place,” said Mr Turnbull after winning the leadership of the Liberal Party. “Infrastructure should be assessed objectively and rationally on its merit. There is no place for ideology here at all.’’ A number of state leaders have taken Mr Turnbull's comments as a sign that he may back public transport projects in their own backyards. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews met with Mr Turnbull within days of his elevation to the prime ministership. They discussed, amongst other things, funding for Melbourne Metro rail project, which is proceeding apace after the incoming Andrews Labor government cancelled the giant East-west link road project, “I would welcome a strong and significant financial contribution from the Turnbull government in recognition of the new Prime Minister's clear sense that public transport is so important,” Mr Andrews said. Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she had already sent list of potential rail projects to Mr Turnbull, including a ‘no brainer’ business case for extending the Gold Coast’s successful light right project ahead of the city’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in April 2018. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said on ABC radio that he hoped Mr Turnbull would expand the Federal Government's infrastructure funding to include rail as well as roads. Mr Barnett’s government is facing funding problems with its proposed Max light rail project and airport rail link. Mr Turnbull's comments about funding have been interpreted as a direct dig at Tony Abbott, who wrote in his 2009 book Battlelines of ‘Kings in Their Own Cars’, saying public transport was not suited to Australia’s sprawling ‘suburban metropolises’. “In Australia’s big cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and a still a hideous drain of the public purse. Part of the problem is inefficient, over-manned, union-dominated, government-run train and bus systems," Mr Abbott said in his book. “Mostly, there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.” Mr Abbott’s bias against public transport was seen by many as part of his ideological mindset. In 2013 he said: “We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it is important that we stick to our knitting. And the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.” If a week is a long time in politics, then the last seven days has been an eternity.       [post_title] => PM’s public transport comments encourage state leaders [post_excerpt] => Infrastructure does not mean only roads, says Malcolm Turnbull [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => pms-public-transport-comments-encourage-state-leaders [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-21 17:08:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-21 07:08:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21484 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21278 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-09-08 09:34:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-07 23:34:48 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_21306" align="alignnone" width="989"]Christian Cross 26 A Greens private member's bill to strip religious schools of an exemption allowing them to discriminate against LBGTI students and teachers is causing an unholy stoush.[/caption] Victoria could be the first Australian state to outlaw religious schools sacking gay and lesbian teachers or expelling LGBTI students, under proposed amendments to the state’s Equal Opportunities Act. Greens Equality Spokesman Sam Hibbins is drafting a private member’s bill making it illegal for religious bodies and religious schools to discriminate against LGBTI students or teachers based on their sexuality or gender identity (as well as their marital or parental status) by removing the schools’ right to claim religious exemptions under the 2010 Act. “We’ve got a particular focus on schools because that’s where I think it will have the biggest impact,” Mr Hibbins said. “Essentially religious bodies that run religious schools have a duty of care to their staff and students [and] by discriminating against them based on their sexual orientation and gender status they would be breaching that duty of care,” he said. Discriminatory practices can include making it difficult for transgender students to transition. For example, by refusing to accept a student is transgender because it’s not backed up by a birth certificate, by strictly enforcing the school uniform or by banning transgender students from using particular toilets. “If you put yourself in the shoes of students who are coming to terms with their sexuality or gender identity that can often be a challenging time for that student. There’s a lot of fear of rejection from their peers and rejection or exclusion from their families or they won’t be supported by the school," Mr Hibbins said. “Somehow the school is giving an indication that being LGBTI is somehow wrong … the school has a duty of care to these students to support and protect them.” Mr Hibbins said there was a strong link between levels of discrimination and bullying at school and poor mental health, as well as well-documented relatively high suicide rates of LGBTI youth. He said it was also unacceptable to force teachers to be clandestine about their private lives. “This is sending a message to people: don’t ask, don’t tell and staff needing to hide their sexuality.” But the Greens Bill has attracted heated opposition from some religious organisations. Steven O’Doherty from Christian Schools Australia (CSA) called the Bill “a continuation of their [The Greens] long-standing attack on the right of parents to choose a religious education for their children”. “Faith-based schools must have the ability to choose staff whose life choices are in keeping with the teachings of the faith,” Mr O’Doherty said. “Faith is not only taught, it must be modelled. While we have not seen the Greens’ specific amendments, based on reports they would denude faith-based schools of the ability to choose staff whose lives are exemplars of the school’s values, beliefs and moral teachings. Reasonable Australians understand this makes a mockery of the idea of religious freedom,” he said. Mr O’Doherty said the current exemption achieved the right balance of rights and freedoms in education. “It allows schools to make reasonable and sensible decisions in keeping with the tenets of their faith. CSA does not support any changes to the current arrangements, whether by the Greens or Labor. “Christian schools are supportive environments that take most seriously their pastoral care of all students, including those identifying as LGBTI.” Asked if he would seek to expel LGBTI students Mr O'Doherty said: "CSA does not seek the right for schools to expel students for reason of their sexual preference or other gender-related issues. The expulsion of any student - any student  - relates to their actions towards others as a contributing and supportive member of the school community. It only becomes an issue if their behaviour places them outside the school's policies." Meanwhile, NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley wants to revert to the “inherent requirement test” which was introduced in 2010 (and rolled back in 2011), where schools were asked to justify each why they should be exempt from anti-discrimination laws on a case-by-case basis. Labor believes this approach balances the importance of granting schools independence and religious freedom with having to provide a higher level of evidence as to why they should be allowed to discriminate. It’s a concession that Mr Hibbins feels does not go far enough to improving the lives of LGBTI teachers or students. He is now calling on the Labor Party and the Independent Education Union, which represents independent and religious schools, to get behind his bill and he will write to each of the state’s religious and independent schools asking whether they feel they need the religious exemptions provided under the current Equal Opportunities Act. Mr Hibbins said he was hopeful Labor would get behind his Bill, particularly because the party have publicly declared that “equality is non-negotiable”.       [post_title] => Victoria could soon outlaw LGBTI discrimination in religious schools [post_excerpt] => Christian Schools Australia opposes the bill. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => victoria-could-outlaw-lgbti-discrimination-in-religious-schools [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-11 09:47:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-10 23:47:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21278 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21107 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-08-19 16:18:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-19 06:18:53 [post_content] => Three Ways to Lose Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has released the terms of reference of a review into the operation, allocation and number of pokie machines in the state. The state government’s Review of Gaming Machine Arrangements, which began last month, will help dictate the future number, terms and allocation of gaming machines in Victoria and examine whether existing regulations need to be altered or not. Under current arrangements, gaming venues must have an entitlement for each pokie it operates. Electronic gaming machine entitlements last ten years and will expire in 2022. The review will look at: 1. Whether to keep the gaming venue operator model and if it has met its objectives 2. Whether the regulatory settings for the venue operator model should be retained, e.g. the 27,372 cap on the number of entitlements, 105 machine venue level cap, the 35 per cent ownership restriction, the requirement that 20 per cent of entitlements are used in non-metropolitan municipalities and that entitlements are divided equally between clubs and hotels. 3. Whether revenue from gaming is fairly distributed (the structure of gaming machine taxes and the tax differential between clubs and hotels, including how clubs demonstrate their community benefit) 4. The appropriateness of the current 10-year term or whether entitlements should be issued for a longer fixed term or in perpetuity 5. How any new entitlements should be allocated 6. How the price of any new entitlements should be determined 7. How and when entitlements should be paid for and taxed 8. How the entitlement transfer market should operate The peak body for Victoria’s local councils, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), is concerned that Victorians’ gambling debts are spiralling and that something needs to be done to staunch the losses and the terrible human cost they represent. MAV believes that council and community input into the review is a chance to make some changes that could help, for example, lower betting limits and fewer machines. The MAV President Bill Arthur said Victorians loss nearly $70 million (Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation figures) more last year than they did in 2013-2014, the first time there has been an increase since 2008. “We believe this review is an opportunity to reduce the number of machines in this state and refrain from providing any entitlement in perpetuity,” Mr Arthur said. “It seems the harm minimisation approaches currently in place are no longer effective and more needs to be done to minimise the impact this industry is having on families and communities. “Councils and the MAV have been advocating for better protection for vulnerable communities from inappropriate placement of poker machines through the Enough Pokies campaign. This data adds to concerns the losses are in communities that can least afford it,” he said. Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett said the review would give the community and industry more certainty around the future arrangements for gaming machines. “The review will examine the existing regulatory framework and help inform any future allocation of gaming machine entitlements,” Ms Garrett said. “The review will look at whether the current entitlement model has met its objectives and will consider how venues own and operate gaming machines, the distribution of machines between hotels and clubs, and the length of entitlements.” The review, which will be conducted by Victoria’s Department of Justice and Regulation, will incorporate consultation with industry and the community and report to the Government by July next year. The state government has said it will separately examine how effective and appropriate existing harm minimisation measures are. [post_title] => Victoria's pokies face fresh scrutiny, gambling losses soar [post_excerpt] => Gambling debts up $70 million in Victoria since last year. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => victorias-pokies-face-fresh-scrutiny-gambling-losses-soar [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-08-20 23:10:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-08-20 13:10:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21107 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19495 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-05-06 16:20:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-05-06 06:20:32 [post_content] => melbourne walk   Amalgamating frontline government services used to be fraught with political risk, but these days state governments of all creeds just can’t seem to get enough of digitally powered one-stop-shops. The recently elected Daniel Andrews government in Victoria has become the latest state administration to create a state-wide service delivery organisation, a move it promises will spare its citizens the legwork of trotting between different agency offices and navigating dozens of disjointed websites to complete routing transactions. Dubbed Service Victoria and announced by Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, in the state budget on Tuesday, the move has attracted $15 “million to commence planning and development” to create the new organisation. If the idea has a very familiar ring to it, that’s because Service New South Wales, created in 2013, has been strongly promoting its own success story in radically improving online transactions and face to face interactions with government so that they are on par with the best performers in the private sector. Normally government agencies anticipate pushback from customers wary about cuts to services, but Service NSW’s swift and radical departure from the bureaucratic status quo of long queues at slow-moving offices has proven a hands down winner with the public grateful for not having its time wasted. At the heart of the reformist push in services is an imperative driven from the top level of government to put almost all consumer interactions in one convenient online location and enable government shopfronts to deliver services from multiple agencies. Victoria isn’t shy about applying the same idea, even if a new Labor government won’t acknowledge the clear success of their opposites across the border. Even so, the message is clear. “We don’t need almost a thousand different websites and hotlines for things like car registration and birth certificates. Service Victoria will get rid of the inefficiencies that are currently wasting time for families and businesses,” Victorian Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, boomed in  Budget statement. According to Budget papers Service Victoria will “start the process of modernising the delivery of the highest volume government transactions” to improve the quality and reliability of interactions and transactions. The Daniels government estimates that it has 538 different websites (it could be more) that the Budget papers say are “are excessively difficult to navigate” along with “transactions and information spread across hundreds of phone hotlines.” The Victorian Budget also revealed a financial commitment of $15.9 million through the creation of the “Office of the Public Access Counsellor” to expose a raft of information to the public that the Andrews government claims was previously “hidden from view”. “The new, independent Office will maintain all existing powers of the Freedom Of Information Commissioner, and will gain the authority to review Departmental and Ministerial decisions, including those on the grounds of Cabinet-in-Confidence,” the Budget papers said. A further $2 million has been allocated to “reforming the public service to provide efficient and innovative policy development and service delivery to meet new challenges”. That money will be spent on improving “the effectiveness and capabilities of the public service through the work of the Victorian Public Service Commission (VSPC) in 2015-16.” [post_title] => Victorian government buys into one-stop-shop services franchise [post_excerpt] => Andrews government borrows a trick from Service NSW. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => victorian-government-buys-into-one-stop-shop-services-franchise [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-05-07 22:39:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-05-07 12:39:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=19495 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18157 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-02-18 18:52:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-02-18 07:52:36 [post_content] => P1020431 Australia’s century-long stop-start effort to standardise disparate railway gauges between its states has chalked up another incremental win. The freshly elected Daniel Andrews Labor government in Victoria has come good on its election promise to allocate $30 million to commence stage one of the Murray Basin Rail Project, a move that will help agricultural producers and other regional industries like mining put more freight load onto trains rather than relying on trucks. Rail investment might be have been shunted onto the slow lane federally, but recent changes in state governments now look likely to propel the issue forward. Much of Victoria’s freight rail lines have for decades remained stuck on broad gauge tracks that are a different width to the standard gauge used by New South Wales. The state's latest move is part of a wider push by the rail industry as well as state and federal governments to finally create a national freight network based on the standard gauge that most manufacturers of rolling stock favour. The allocation of money has won immediate strong support from the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) which said the Murray Basin Rail Project will help transform and align the Victorian rail system. “The ongoing efficiency of rail in the agribusiness and mining supply chains is paramount in helping the economy and in ensuring farmers and miners can get their products to market quickly, efficiently and reliably,” said ARA chief executive Bryan Nye. “The Project will also create greater efficiencies for rail moving in and out of Victoria’s major ports helping local industries stay competitive and support producers.” Key parts of the project include converting the present broad gauge Mildura freight line over to standard gauge and increasing haulage capacity by upgrading the rail line to take 21 tonne axle loads. Mr Nye said the project would also provide the associated standard gauge connections across Victoria's north western rail network. “I hope to see a continuation of this sound commitment for freight rail from the Andrews Government, particularly through further standardisation of broad gauge freight lines in Victoria,” Mr Nye said. The rail industry chief also backed the Andrews governments’ other commitments which included creating a Melbourne Metro Rail Authority and accelerating the removal of 50 dangerous level crossings in the state. [post_title] => Industry chuffed at VIC $30m to standardise freight rail [post_excerpt] => Movement on delayed journey to uniform gauges. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => industry-chuffed-vic-30m-standardise-freight-rail [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-02-18 18:52:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-02-18 07:52:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=18157 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 17517 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2014-12-05 11:25:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-12-05 00:25:41 [post_content] => Ambulance New Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ has only been in the state’s top job for hours, but already there is a long line of anxious stakeholders forming at his door eager to press their cases for change after the toppling of the single term Baillieu-Napthine Coalition government. At the front of the queue are Victoria’s unionised public servants and local governments. Both are clearly hoping for a sympathetic hearing from the new Labor government after its campaign that railed against cuts to public services and workplace conditions. One of Mr Andrews’ first tasks will be to staunch the bloodletting caused by a two-and-a-half year pay and conditions dispute with the state’s paramedics, who argue they are paid $30,000 less a year than paramedics in other states. Mr Andrews has already pledged to ‘end the war’ with Victoria’s paramedics and refer the issue to the Fair Work Commission. He is also pressing the entire board of Ambulance Victoria to resign by Friday or he’ll sack them. However Andrews will have to have to move swiftly to placate the paramedics union, which lent its muscle and public trust in highly-visible election campaign against his embattled predecessor, Denis Napthine. Ambulance Employees Association state secretary Steve McGhie has already promised his members will ‘go feral’ if Labor does not deliver a 10 to 20 per cent pay rise by mid-2015. Local councils also have their foot in the door for a cosy chat with the 42-year-old Premier. Bill McArthur from the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said Victoria’s local councils were looking forward to working with Mr Andrews and whichever ministers were sworn in. “There are a number of issues that we will need to work through with them. Rate capping, particularly, will be crucial to how we go forward as a sector. They have indicated that they want to engage in a conversation with MAV around that policy,” Mr McArthur said. Victorian Labor has already irritated councils by committing to capping council rate increases at below the CPI, unless each council can make a case to the independent Essential Services Commission (ESC) and justify why they should be allowed to exceed the cap. Councils across Australia typically resent the promise of rate caps as a cheap and nasty short term tactic that sounds good but causes years of financial pain down the track. On the plus side, Labor in Victoria has said it will lighten the reporting burden on councils and reduce the number of performance measures ‘to ensure data is both meaningful and not a significant impost’. Mr McArthur said reporting requirements were an ‘enormous strain’ on resources and he welcomed any reduction in them. Other major areas for discussion would be preschool programs in kindergartens, child health and the proposed increase of Commonwealth involvement in home community care, traditionally a local council responsibility in Victoria and a hot button issue. “We will be asking for meetings with the government as soon as we know who’s who in the zoo and we are very keen to end up in a constructive conversation with them around how we can get the best outcomes for our communities,” Mr McArthur said. Before the election MAV sent out to a ‘call to parties’ asking major parties for their response to questions on eight policy areas, including state-local government relations, regulatory and self-reform, planning, environment, transport and infrastructure, community services, public health and safety and emergency management. Victorian Labor has indicated that Labor will invest $100 million to improve Victoria’s bus networks, $50 million for kindergarten infrastructure and commitment to various community infrastructure funding programs. Community Public Sector Union Victorian Branch Secretary Karen Batt said she was excited about the next four years and it heralded a new era for the public sector. “It’s all about good faith, genuine bargaining by removing the restrictions of a fixed outcome that the previous government had,” Ms Batt said. “They will remove the artificial cap on public service numbers and look at what’s required to deliver services and programs.” Ms Batt said the Napthine government had instigated a hiring freeze, retrenched 4,200 people and not renewed fixed term contracts “regardless of the fact the Victorian population grew”. It has been reported that Mr Andrews will not demand productivity increases in return for wage increases above inflation and have no set pay rises for other public sector unions. Ms Batt said the public sector had already delivered these productivity increases as staff had been cut while the remaining workers delivered services for more people. Victorian Labor also pledged in a pre-election letter to the CPSU to end outsourcing, and ‘adversarial public sector bargaining disputes’. Where that leaves the state’s agencies in terms of their information technology services procurement remains to be seen. In a letter to the CPSU Victorian Labor promised to, “reduce, and where possible eliminate, the use of outsourcing of publicly funded employment and workplaces covered by government wages policy.” Labor has also pledged to increase casual conversion arrangements and refer bullying complaints to the Fair Work Commission. Mr Andrews will also create a new public sector minister with responsibility for assisting the Premier to improve communication between the government and public sector unions and establish a Public Sector Committee within six months of being elected. With Julian Bajkowski   [post_title] => Public sector, councils set to collect on Andrews' Victorian win [post_excerpt] => New pay deals likely for frontline workers, outsourcing to be limited. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => public-sector-councils-set-collect-andrews-victorian-win [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-12-05 11:25:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-12-05 00:25:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=17517 [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] => 26841 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content] =>

Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’?

  Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), representing companies responsible for the majority of container transport to and from the Port of Melbourne, has called on the Andrews’ Victorian Labor Government to help container transport operators get a ‘fair go’ in the toll pricing to use the West Gate Tunnel. CTAA was responding to the announcements by the Victorian Premier that a consortium headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors has been selected to build the West Gate Tunnel Project (formally known as the Western Distributor Project) to commence in early 2018, and that once completed, there would be 24/7 ‘bans’ on trucks on roads in the inner west of Melbourne. CTAA director Neil Chambers said: “Not surprisingly, container transport operators in the inner and outer Western industrial suburbs undertake numerous truck trips to and from the Port of Melbourne during the day, at night and on weekends, to service vital container trade volumes through the biggest container port in Australia.” “The original government business case called for Transurban to consider a reduced toll price for transport operators undertaking these shuttle operations, as well as suitable trip caps, and the favourable treatment of Higher Productivity Freight Vehicles.”   Read more here.  This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => Will the West Gate Tunnel ‘ban trucks’? [post_excerpt] => 24/7 'ban' on trucks in inner western Melbourne. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-west-gate-tunnel-ban-trucks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-06 15:28:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-06 05:28:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26841 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 17 [max_num_pages] => 2 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 03f992a4c31c853308c16078d4800833 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

daniel-andrews

daniel-andrews