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As the council amalgamations fiasco rolls on, it is becoming apparent that for some of the administrators, being lavished millions of dollars of government funds to spend at their discretion is becoming too strong an attraction to say goodbye to at the coming elections.

Standing for elections

So far at least two administrators have declared their intention to stand for office at the coming council elections. Queanbeyan-Palerang administrator Tim Overall and Armidale regional administrator Ian Tiley have both confirmed they will be standing for election, despite what many believe is an obvious conflict of interest in their current positions as administrators.

The Greens believe the Premier must immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations. Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“It’s not unlawful, but there is no doubt that it is deeply inappropriate for administrators to be running for council elections.

“These administrators have been given an enormous platform in their local communities over the last 18 months, not to mention access to millions of dollars in council funds and community grants.

“There is an obvious conflict of interest if administrators are now putting their hand up to run at the upcoming local government elections, after being given the role of a cashed-up local despot for 18 months.

“These individuals have had well over a year to implement their agenda and build on their existing local profile, they should not be able to run at the upcoming elections.

“The Liberal National government’s forced amalgamation mess continues to be plagued with dysfunction, and as always they treat residents and ratepayers like mugs.

“Any competent government would have outlawed this practice; instead we have the Liberal Nationals in charge.

“If the Premier had any respect for local communities, she would immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations for council.” Mr Shoebridge said.

In the meantime in Sydney, a NSW Government-appointed administrator is seeking to sell off commercial waste services on the eve of council elections

United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly said a forcibly-merged council in Sydney’s west has come under fire after it was revealed that it will no longer be able to provide waste services to more than 1,000 commercial and trade customers, following a decision to outsource domestic waste services and sell off its fleet of garbage trucks.

Cumberland Council, which was formed following the forced merger of Holroyd Council with Auburn and parts of Parramatta, has admitted in council business papers that as a result of the controversial decision by NSW Government-appointed administrator Viv May to outsource domestic waste services, the council would no longer be able to provide services to commercial clients, either.

In June, Mr May awarded a $68 million contract to United Resource Management to run domestic waste services for ten years, Mr Kelly said.

“The sale of Council’s fleet means Council will not be able to service its trade and commercial waste customers in the future,” the council document states.

Mr May is expected to use the next council meeting — the final one before democracy is restored with the election of new councillors next month — to approve a plan to seek expressions of interest from private waste operators to also take over Cumberland Council’s commercial waste operations.

Mr Kelly, whose union represents more than 30,000 local government workers across the state, said the NSW Government needed to urgently intervene to prevent the loss of further services ahead of new councillors being elected.

“Just a week after Premier Gladys Berejiklian publicly abandoned the NSW Government’s failed policy of forcibly amalgamating councils, one of her government’s administrators is making a last-ditch effort to sell off community services before council elections can take place next month,” Mr Kelly said.

“During the past month, this unelected and unaccountable administrator has locked ratepayers into a costly outsourcing arrangement for the next decade, decided to sell the fleet of garbage collection vehicles, and now intends to do the same with commercial waste services.

“There are more than 1,000 businesses that will be impacted by this decision, yet there has been no consultation with them, the broader community, or workers.

“Having an appointed administrator making major decisions on the eve of elections, including the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts and the sale of council assets, is completely unacceptable and is one of the reasons communities across the state fought so hard against these forced mergers.

“Premier Berejiklian and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton need to urgently intervene to stop the unelected administrator of Cumberland Council from selling assets, cutting services, or entering contracts, with all decisions instead held over until a democratically elected council retakes the reins,” Mr Kelly said.

… and Woollahra wants its money back

Waverley Councillor John Wakefield believes the administrator has engaged in building a castle-in-the-air and is keen to seek state government re-imbursement for the costs of the merger.

“With the merger called off, we have certainty about the future of the eastern suburbs councils,” Cr Wakefield said. “Let’s now consider what the ratepayers of Waverley have paid to jump through the hoops of the State Government’s mega-merger fantasy.”

While Woollahra Council and its Mayor led the opposition against the merger, Waverley Council and its Mayor went about setting up Waverley for the merger with Randwick and an unwilling Woollahra.

According to Cr Wakefield, a team of Waverley staff has been working for two years on the merger. Consultants were hired to prepare detailed reports on management and staffing structures under a merged council, facilities and office accommodation requirements, vehicle and truck fleet management issues, maintenance contracts, IT systems integration, and numerous other complex issues requiring detailed plans.

“We estimate that well over $500,000 was spent by Waverley Council in direct costs to consultants, while hundreds and hundreds of hours of senior council staff time was occupied in meetings, preparing reports, workshopping the incredible complexity of merging three large organisations together whilst attempting to maintain work levels and resident expectations of service delivery.

“Simultaneously and additional to this, Waverley Council under Mayor Betts also hired consultants and allocated a significant amount of staff time on a proposal to re-develop Council’s Library and adjacent buildings. This has been marketed as the ‘Civic Heart’ precinct. It was actually a feasibility study to house a merged council’s town hall.

“Mayor Betts was preparing to spend a significant amount of ratepayers money to house a now abandoned merged Eastern Suburbs Council,” he said.

This Civic Heart project has an allocation of $80 million in Waverley Council’s forward budget but would have in reality cost in the order of $120 million. Combined with Mayor Betts’ grand project for the Bondi Pavilion with a budget of $40 million, this would have exhausted Waverley’s $130 million capital works reserve totally.

“We will now be seeking re-imbursement from the State Government of all expenditure related to the merger proposal.

“If our motion is successful, a more precise figure will be calculated by Council’s General Manager, but we estimate the total cost to ratepayers of over $2 million wasted in the last two years.”
                    [post_title] => Council administrators: caretakers or career builders?
                    [post_excerpt] => Standing for election, selling off assets... council administrators are in the firing line.
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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.
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a white new car at gas station
 
By Trisha Harris
  The Armidale petrol market has demonstrated the impact of increased competition and greater price transparency according to figures released in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) latest regional petrol report. Petrol prices in Armidale were significantly higher than those in the five largest cities in Australia from 2012–13. The main reasons for this were: higher transport costs; higher retail operating costs per litre; and higher retail margins and profits. Relatively weak retail competition in Armidale, reflected by a lack of price discounting, contributed to the increase in retail margins and profits in recent years. The Armidale market is small and relatively concentrated, and until recently did not have an active price discounter.
Read more here. This story first appeared in C&I Week.  [post_title] => ACCC releases Armidale petrol report [post_excerpt] => Prices gradually coming down in Armidale. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => accc-releases-armidale-petrol-report [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-22 11:13:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-22 00:13:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25630 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23859 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-05-13 11:13:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-13 01:13:21 [post_content] =>

fist_opt

Even marches, petitions, public meetings and Alan Jones in full flood could not stop nineteen new NSW councils being created, and run by administrators, until local government elections in September next year. NSW Governor David Hurley proclaimed the new councils yesterday as 45 councils became 19. [See full list at the end of this article]. Premier Mike Baird called it “the most comprehensive local government reform in more than 100 years” while others called it a betrayal of local government and their communities. “We are ensuring our communities have stronger and more efficient councils, which will free up money for important projects such as local roads, parks, playgrounds and footpaths,” Mr Baird said. “Our plan to create stronger new councils in Sydney and regional NSW will be supported by NSW Government investment of about $500 million." Merging councils have been promised $10 million each towards the cost of merging and $15 million to invest in community infrastructure through the Stronger Communities Fund. The statistics Twenty three councils received a stay of execution because their nine merger proposals are still the subject of legal challenges but Local Government Minister Paul Toole has said he backs these mergers ‘in principle’ and wants them to go ahead. Those on death row include Woollahra, Mosman, Botany Bay and Ku-ring-gai, councils which remain adamant they will not be merged. Three mergers proposals were late bids by councils who submitted alternative merger proposals and the verdict is not yet known. Fourteen mergers were dropped by the government. Who will run councils? Councillors and mayors have been sacked wholesale but thrown the consolation prize of being invited to join advisory groups and local representative committees. Mr Toole backed away from dispensing of general managers after receiving advice that it would prove too costly to buy out their contracts. Instead, an interim GM will be chosen in each new council and the remaining general manager will stay on board until the 2017 local council elections. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said the whole sector felt betrayed by the state government’s decision. "If it wasn't for a range of vehement campaigns by grassroots communities and the local government sector, the Baird Government would have bulldozed through an even more extensive and undemocratic reform process long ago,” Mr Rhoades said. "The process itself has been one long litany of mistakes and miscalculations and dubious dealings by the Government, and it's telling that both IPART and now the Boundaries Commission have felt compelled to disassociate themselves from the political decisions being made," he said. But Mr Toole disagreed: “Many people have taken the opportunity to have their say during the consultation process, by speaking at inquiries or making written submissions. The NSW Government has listened to community concerns and created new wards that reflect the identity of existing communities,” he said. He said services would operate as normal in new council areas and planning protections would remain in place with existing Local Environmental Plans enforced under the new councils. Impact on the federal election Mr Baird has backpedalled on a number of politically controversial mergers, especially those that appear to be in marginal Coalition federal seats, such as the wildly unpopular merger between Kiama and Shoalhaven in the federal seat of Gilmore or the merger between Tamworth and Walcha, where Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is beating back a challenge from Independent Tony Windsor to keep his seat. But a late proposal to merge Walcha with Armidale-Duresq, Guyra and Uralla looks set to proceed – the delegate’s report recommended it should – but the government has said the decision is “pending”, presumably until after the July 2 federal election. Meanwhile, talkback host Alan Jones accused Mr Baird of sabotaging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's chances on the hustings. Opposition Leader Luke Foley has promised to give people the oportunity to de-amalgamate their councils, if he is elected in 2019. Mr Rhoades said: "You can't pretend it's not inherently political when the only councils to escape amalgamation are those that happen to fall into marginal federal electorates in the middle of an election campaign." "It's now a matter for voters, many of whom may well choose to express their anger and sense of betrayal at the ballot box at the first opportunity," he said. Labor accuses Baird of imposing dictatorship by boundary rigging and gerrymandering NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley immediately attacked the forced mergers, directly accused Mr Baird of forming new councils based on political motivations rather than what communities wanted, with boundaries drawn-up along partisan lines. He told ABC 702 that mergers in Sydney were based on diluting Labor voter influence and concentrating the Coalition’s base. “This is just a gerrymander for the Liberal Party’s electoral interest, it’s boundary rigging plain and simple,” Mr Foley said. “It’s a travesty of democracy." Mr Foley specifically called out the case of Kogarah, Hurstville and Rockdale that could have formed a “genuine” St George council. “Instead they bring only two together, Kogarah-Hurstville [and] keep Rockdale out. Why? Too many Labor voters,” he said. “Put Rockdale with Botany … they are only separated by Botany Bay and an international airport. What’s the community of interest?” Mr Foley said. He said elected representatives had been sacked by the stroke of a pen and replaced by hand-picked appointees. Mr Foley said administrators had been given “dictatorial powers” and said the appointees were not accountable to ratepayers. The Opposition leader then recycled former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s position, saying that if elected he will let communities decide their own fates and allow referenda to de-merge councils. “I’m not opposed to mergers," Mr Foley said. “I’m opposed to the breathtaking lack of democracy where elected representatives are sacked and replaced by hand-picked unelected administrators with dictatorial powers.” More to follow

Mergers proceeding immediately

Armidale, Dumaresq, and Guyra councils to become Armidale Regional Council Bankstown and Canterbury councils become Canterbury-Bankstown Council Gosford and Wyong councils become Central Coast Council Parramatta and part of Hills, Auburn, Holroyd and Hornsby councils become City of Parramatta Council Auburn and Holroyd councils become Cumberland Council Conargo and Deniliquin councils become Edward River Council Corowa and Urana councils become Federation Council Hurstville and Kogarah councils Georges River Council Cootamundra and Gundagai councils become Gundagai Council Bombala, Cooma Monaro and Snowy River councils become Snowy Monaro Regional Council Boorowa, Harden and Young councils become Hilltops Council Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils become Inner West Council Gloucester, Great Lakes and Greater Taree councils become Mid-Coast Council Murray and Wakool councils become Murray River Council Jerilderie and Murrumbidgee councils become Murrumbidgee Council Manly, Pittwater and Warringah councils become Northern Beaches Council Queanbeyan and Palerang councils become Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Tumut and Tumbarumba councils become Snowy Valleys Council Dubbo and Wellington councils become Western Plains Regional Council  

 Mergers still supported by the Baird Government but held up in court

Botany and Rockdale Randwick, Waverly and Woollahra Bathurst and Oberon Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Mosman, North Sydney and Willoughby Blayney, Cabonne and Orange Hunters Hill, Lane Cove and Ryde Burwood, Canada Bay and Strathfield Shellharbour and Wollongong  

Merger Proposals still pending (kicked into touch)

Newcastle and Port Stephens Dungog and Maitland Armidale-Dumaresq, Guyra, Walcha and Uralla [post_title] => Baird crushes NSW council mergers resistance with iron fist [post_excerpt] => Nineteen new councils, more to follow. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => baird-crushes-nsw-council-merger-resistance-iron-fist [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-17 17:06:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-17 07:06:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23859 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7196 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2013-09-16 16:41:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-09-16 16:41:41 [post_content] =>

By Julian Bajkowski

The federal ministry of Local Government could be the first of many administrative casualties in Canberra after the function conspicuously failed to appear in the publication of Prime Minister elect Tony Abbott’s first Ministry list.

In a document that provides a partial window into how the bureaucracy and machinery of government of the soon to be sworn in Abbott government will be shaped, the function that only a few months ago was due to be put to a referendum for Constitutional recognition simply doesn’t appear.

While local government has always legally been a subordinate domain of state government, the absence of a federal minister is likely to have state associations of councils worried that they could lose hard-fought influence over policy formed in Canberra – despite local government being given a seat at the Council of Australian Governments.

The most probable ministry for any existing federal local government functions to be rolled into is Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Warren Truss’ portfolio of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Deputy Nationals leader and new Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, had been a staunch defender of regional councils in his role as Opposition spokesman for Local Government but has been given the Agriculture portfolio in the new government.

Both the Nationals and Mr Joyce in his old role as a Senator had also been strong proponents of letting funding from Canberra to flow directly to council-based projects, like the Howard era $3 billion-plus Roads to Recovery program, to expedite outcomes and cut through sometimes hostile state government tactics red tape.

Mr Joyce had also defended the ‘yes’ case in a since scrapped referendum on recognition of local government that, if successful, would have formalised funding flows.

However the Nationals’ support for direct local government funding – especially important in rural regions that commonly face either deteriorating infrastructure or a lack of it altogether – provoked a strong backlash from right or ‘dry’ faction of the Liberals who publicly railed against what they regarded as an assault of states’ rights.

The big question now for Australia’s peak body for local governments, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), is to whom they can oppress their case now that Canberra, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and Western Australia are all held by the Coalition.

Aside from the staple issue of roads funding, many councils that had been hoping to benefit from the National Broadband Network are nervously waiting to find out what the Coalition’s plans are as the incoming government prepares to instigate a series of audits into the massive telecommunications build.

The Coalition has promised cheaper NBN rollout it says will be delivered to a greater number of people in a shorter space of time – a commitment regional councils are wary could lead to a ‘metro-first’ deployment to get runs on the board at their potential expense.

The parlous state of telecommunications in regional Australia, especially mobile phone coverage and broadband, has long been a friction point between the Nationals and their Liberal allies because of the comparatively high cost of delivering services to the bush – an expense that has traditionally been partly subsidised by taxpayers.

A number of regional communities had also pinned their hopes on the prospect that a combination of cheaper land prices and Fibre-to-the-Premises network in regional towns would attract both new residents and businesses to their areas and stimulate much needed new economic activity in the process.

They included Armidale in Mr Joyce’s seat of New England, which was held by independent member Tony Windsor prior to his retirement from the last parliament.

Mr Windsor extracted several concessions for his electorate in return for helping Labor hang onto power during a hung parliament, including being one of the first locations where the NBN was rolled out to homes.

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By Paul Hemsley

The federal government has started installing National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre optic cable into the Western Sydney suburb of Penrith in an effort boost business and employment in the area.

The rollout of the NBN in Penrith is the latest in the federal government’s nationwide project to install fibre optic cables underground to replace copper communications infrastructure.

Penrith’s connection to the NBN follows the New South Wales ‘first release’ sites of Armidale, Minnamurra and Kiama Downs.

The town of Riverstone, which is approximately 20 kilometres northeast of Penrith, was announced as part of the ‘second release’ phase to be connected to the NBN.

The federal government is presently constructing NBN infrastructure across Western Sydney for 68,000 homes and businesses, with more than 9,100 locations connected in Penrith and its surrounding suburbs including Jamisontown, South Penrith, Londonderry and Agnes Banks.

NBN Co expects the connection of these suburbs to the NBN will be completed during 2013.

Construction for the NBN will have commenced or been completed for 216,800 homes and businesses in Western Sydney and one million premises across NSW by mid-June 2015, the government says.

Federal Member for Lindsay, David Bradbury said the NBN will be available for similar prices to what people are presently paying on the “ageing copper network”, but will “provide a far superior and more reliable service”.

“The ability to send and receive big files almost instantly will mean businesses that previously had to base themselves in the city will be able to set up right here in Penrith and bring more jobs to our region,” Mr Bradbury said.

Acting Communications Minister, Senator Kim Carr, said people living in these areas will be able to start connecting to the NBN in the next few months.

“[They will] be among the first Australians to access the NBN's super-fast broadband, bringing benefits for education, healthcare and local businesses,” Senator Carr said.

NBN Co spokesman, Darren Rudd, said every home, school and workplace in Australia is planned to be connected to the NBN within the next decade.

Mr Rudd said this connection will be made with a combination of fibre, wireless and satellite technologies.

Mr Bradbury made the NBN rollout in Penrith an electoral issue by claiming the result of the next federal election will determine whether or not all local residents will be provided access to the high speed affordable broadband of the NBN.

“The only thing stopping the area from having the NBN is the Liberals. The choice is simple - support Labor and you'll get the NBN; support the Liberals and you won't,” he said.

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A Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week between the University of New England and NSW councils which gives them more access to research facilities and expertise.
 
 
By Staff Writer 
 
A partnership between New South Wales councils and The University of New England (UNE) will address regional engagement between the institutions and ways of dealing with the chronic skills shortage in local government.

Through a series of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) signed last week, councils will link up with the university on cooperative ventures in research, consultancies, grant applications, cadetships and scholarships for local students.
 
Mayors and General Managers from Armidale Dumaresq, Glen Innes Severn, Guyra, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha Councils were on campus for a session of roundtable talks aimed at promoting higher levels of engagement between the university and local government.
 
ADC Mayor Cr Peter Ducat said the MOU signified the beginnings of a new level of community engagement between the region’s two largest organisations.

“There will be a significant flow on of benefits to all council constituents”, he said.
 
UNE has already signed MOUs with Clarence Valley and Guyra Councils, and a similar agreement with Norfolk Island.
 
“It makes sense for rural and regional councils to interact as closely as possible with their regional university,” said UNE Chancellor Richard Torbay. 

“We have a history of engagement because of our community of interest but this can be taken further as today’s enthusiastic discussions have proved.
 
“Working together we have an added strength to take a leadership role on issues such as health, education, the environment, sustainable development and delivery of services from a regional vantage point.”
 
Dr Torbay said one of the aims of the partnerships would be to address the chronic skills shortage in local government and looking at ways to stop the flow of talent to larger cities. 

“We all want to arrest the drift of young people to the big metropolitan cities because they can’t get jobs in rural areas,” he said.

“We want to attract people with expertise to fill the skills shortage and we want to develop the skills of local people through schools, TAFE and the university working together.”
 
[post_title] => NSW councils in MOU signing with university [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-councils-in-mou-signing-with-university [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-02-21 10:14:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-02-20 23:14:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 7 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27748 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 17:02:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 07:02:40 [post_content] => As the council amalgamations fiasco rolls on, it is becoming apparent that for some of the administrators, being lavished millions of dollars of government funds to spend at their discretion is becoming too strong an attraction to say goodbye to at the coming elections. Standing for elections So far at least two administrators have declared their intention to stand for office at the coming council elections. Queanbeyan-Palerang administrator Tim Overall and Armidale regional administrator Ian Tiley have both confirmed they will be standing for election, despite what many believe is an obvious conflict of interest in their current positions as administrators. The Greens believe the Premier must immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations. Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “It’s not unlawful, but there is no doubt that it is deeply inappropriate for administrators to be running for council elections. “These administrators have been given an enormous platform in their local communities over the last 18 months, not to mention access to millions of dollars in council funds and community grants. “There is an obvious conflict of interest if administrators are now putting their hand up to run at the upcoming local government elections, after being given the role of a cashed-up local despot for 18 months. “These individuals have had well over a year to implement their agenda and build on their existing local profile, they should not be able to run at the upcoming elections. “The Liberal National government’s forced amalgamation mess continues to be plagued with dysfunction, and as always they treat residents and ratepayers like mugs. “Any competent government would have outlawed this practice; instead we have the Liberal Nationals in charge. “If the Premier had any respect for local communities, she would immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations for council.” Mr Shoebridge said. In the meantime in Sydney, a NSW Government-appointed administrator is seeking to sell off commercial waste services on the eve of council elections United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly said a forcibly-merged council in Sydney’s west has come under fire after it was revealed that it will no longer be able to provide waste services to more than 1,000 commercial and trade customers, following a decision to outsource domestic waste services and sell off its fleet of garbage trucks. Cumberland Council, which was formed following the forced merger of Holroyd Council with Auburn and parts of Parramatta, has admitted in council business papers that as a result of the controversial decision by NSW Government-appointed administrator Viv May to outsource domestic waste services, the council would no longer be able to provide services to commercial clients, either. In June, Mr May awarded a $68 million contract to United Resource Management to run domestic waste services for ten years, Mr Kelly said. “The sale of Council’s fleet means Council will not be able to service its trade and commercial waste customers in the future,” the council document states. Mr May is expected to use the next council meeting — the final one before democracy is restored with the election of new councillors next month — to approve a plan to seek expressions of interest from private waste operators to also take over Cumberland Council’s commercial waste operations. Mr Kelly, whose union represents more than 30,000 local government workers across the state, said the NSW Government needed to urgently intervene to prevent the loss of further services ahead of new councillors being elected. “Just a week after Premier Gladys Berejiklian publicly abandoned the NSW Government’s failed policy of forcibly amalgamating councils, one of her government’s administrators is making a last-ditch effort to sell off community services before council elections can take place next month,” Mr Kelly said. “During the past month, this unelected and unaccountable administrator has locked ratepayers into a costly outsourcing arrangement for the next decade, decided to sell the fleet of garbage collection vehicles, and now intends to do the same with commercial waste services. “There are more than 1,000 businesses that will be impacted by this decision, yet there has been no consultation with them, the broader community, or workers. “Having an appointed administrator making major decisions on the eve of elections, including the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts and the sale of council assets, is completely unacceptable and is one of the reasons communities across the state fought so hard against these forced mergers. “Premier Berejiklian and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton need to urgently intervene to stop the unelected administrator of Cumberland Council from selling assets, cutting services, or entering contracts, with all decisions instead held over until a democratically elected council retakes the reins,” Mr Kelly said. … and Woollahra wants its money back Waverley Councillor John Wakefield believes the administrator has engaged in building a castle-in-the-air and is keen to seek state government re-imbursement for the costs of the merger. “With the merger called off, we have certainty about the future of the eastern suburbs councils,” Cr Wakefield said. “Let’s now consider what the ratepayers of Waverley have paid to jump through the hoops of the State Government’s mega-merger fantasy.” While Woollahra Council and its Mayor led the opposition against the merger, Waverley Council and its Mayor went about setting up Waverley for the merger with Randwick and an unwilling Woollahra. According to Cr Wakefield, a team of Waverley staff has been working for two years on the merger. Consultants were hired to prepare detailed reports on management and staffing structures under a merged council, facilities and office accommodation requirements, vehicle and truck fleet management issues, maintenance contracts, IT systems integration, and numerous other complex issues requiring detailed plans. “We estimate that well over $500,000 was spent by Waverley Council in direct costs to consultants, while hundreds and hundreds of hours of senior council staff time was occupied in meetings, preparing reports, workshopping the incredible complexity of merging three large organisations together whilst attempting to maintain work levels and resident expectations of service delivery. “Simultaneously and additional to this, Waverley Council under Mayor Betts also hired consultants and allocated a significant amount of staff time on a proposal to re-develop Council’s Library and adjacent buildings. This has been marketed as the ‘Civic Heart’ precinct. It was actually a feasibility study to house a merged council’s town hall. “Mayor Betts was preparing to spend a significant amount of ratepayers money to house a now abandoned merged Eastern Suburbs Council,” he said. This Civic Heart project has an allocation of $80 million in Waverley Council’s forward budget but would have in reality cost in the order of $120 million. Combined with Mayor Betts’ grand project for the Bondi Pavilion with a budget of $40 million, this would have exhausted Waverley’s $130 million capital works reserve totally. “We will now be seeking re-imbursement from the State Government of all expenditure related to the merger proposal. “If our motion is successful, a more precise figure will be calculated by Council’s General Manager, but we estimate the total cost to ratepayers of over $2 million wasted in the last two years.” [post_title] => Council administrators: caretakers or career builders? [post_excerpt] => Standing for election, selling off assets... council administrators are in the firing line. 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armidale

armidale

Local Government dropped from federal ministry list

By Julian Bajkowski The federal ministry of Local Government could be the first of many administrative casualties in Canberra after the function conspicuously failed to appear in the publication of Prime Minister elect Tony Abbott’s first Ministry list. In a document that provides a partial window into how the bureaucracy and machinery of government of […]

NBN rollout plugs into Penrith

By Paul Hemsley The federal government has started installing National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre optic cable into the Western Sydney suburb of Penrith in an effort boost business and employment in the area. The rollout of the NBN in Penrith is the latest in the federal government’s nationwide project to install fibre optic cables underground […]

MOU_300.jpg

NSW councils in MOU signing with university

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week between the University of New England and NSW councils which gives them more access to research facilities and expertise.     By Staff Writer    A partnership between New South Wales councils and The University of New England (UNE) will address regional engagement between the institutions and ways of dealing […]