The official magazine of the Local Government Association
of NSW and Shires Association of NSW
> Upskilling in the bush: helping rural communities thrive
> Savouring the last drop: the need for wastewater recycling
> Ending the reign of bottled water through water bubblers
for generations to come
A good superannuation scheme will always see its sole purpose
as providing retirement income for its members.
Who said you can’t make money in SRI?
An even better superannuation scheme will also offer a socially
Socially responsible investing.
and environmentally responsible investment style — one that
does not adversely affect people’s lives or the environment. Good returns, better outcomes … better community.
At the Local Government Superannuation Scheme (LGSS) Tobacco, gambling, armaments, uranium mining,
everybody gains. That’s because LGSS does both.
poor workplace practices (such as child labour)
Through the adoption of a socially and environmentally
responsible investment style, members enjoy a return on their
investments in the knowledge their money is doing good for their
planet and community. Local Government Superannuation Scheme
In fact, LGSS is one of only a few superannuation funds that has Contact Details
applied a sustainability screen across its entire Australian share T: 1300 369 901 Postal Address
portfolio. That’s A$2 billion invested in Australian companies that
operate with a socially responsible ethos. F: (02) 9279 4131 PO Box N835
All private equity investments, including directly held property, www.lgsuper.com.au Grosvenor Place Sydney NSW 1220
are also more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
In fact recently all our properties went “green” by sourcing all its
base energy requirements from renewable energy.
Visit our website to learn more about our socially responsible
investment (SRI) approach.
For branch locations and contact details please visit our website or contact us on 1300 369 901.
Please note that the information contained in this document is of a general nature only and is not for personal advice and has not taken into account your personal objectives,
financial situation or needs. Any advice in this document is provided by FuturePlus Financial Services Pty Ltd (ABN 90 080 972 630) as an Australian Financial Services
Licensee (AFSL 238445) on behalf of the Trustee of the Local Government Superannuation Scheme, LGSS Pty Ltd (ABN 68 078 003 497). LGSS Pty Ltd is an APRA
Registrable Superannuation Entity Licensee (RSEL: L0001243). Local Government Superannuation Scheme is a Registered Superannuation Entity (RSE: Pool A - R1004656
and RSE: Pool B - R1004663). Members should not rely solely on this information and should consider their own personal objectives, financial situation and needs before acting
on this information. Prior to making any decision you should obtain and consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) pertaining to your Scheme membership.
04 President’s Message 16 Feature
Cr Bruce Miller, President, Shires Savouring the last drop - The Need For
Association of NSW Wastewater Recycling
05 President’s Message 17 Feature
Cr Genia McCaffery, President, Local NSW planning legislation - a work in
Government Association of NSW progress
06 In the News 18 Out & About
Country Energy’s formal partnership Willoughby City Council’s bush
with Local Government in NSW to
landscape painting outdoor workshop;
continue until 2012; A call for more
Tulip Time 2009 in Bowral; Bay Day
women on councils; UK councils ban
jargon; Council voices support for celebrations
retention of NSW rural seats; Regional
panels to decide planning jobs; Town 20 Trendsetters
taps won’t run dry thanks to funding; Ending the reign of bottled water
$1.19m election bill disputed by council through water bubblers
10 Cover Story 22 Conference &
Water for Food - a local issue of Awards Watch
national concern What’s Coming
12 Inside LGSA 24 Profile
Fiscal star Report confirms NSW Val Southam: Waste Not, Want Not
councils need adequate funding
26 Local Government Super
13 Comment The markets and You
Local government concerns vindicated
as elections referred to inquiry 28 Council in Profile
Upskilling in the bush - helping rural
14 Feature communities thrive
Revamping the recycling industry
31 LGSA Cultural Awards
Creative Council projects shine at
Cultural Awards Night
8Editor Lisa Kinahan 8Contributing Writers Kate Jones, Lisa Kinahan, Rowena Fairclough, Meredith Downes, Kate Walsh, Jon Dee, Adam Harper
8Production Director Jeremy Soh 8Creative Director Therese McCormack 8Advertising Jeremy Soh (02) 9331 6611 8Publisher The TMTE Group for and on behalf of LGSA
8TMTE Publisher Chris Cormack 8LGSA Publishers Cr Genia McCaffery, President, Local Government Association of NSW and Cr Bruce Miller, President, Shires Association of NSW.
All advertising enquiries to Jeremy Soh Tel: (02) 9331 6611 email: firstname.lastname@example.org. All editorial enquiries to Lisa Kinahan Tel: (02) 9331 6611 email: email@example.com.
Local Agenda is published four times a year by the TMTE Group on behalf of LGSA. Local Agenda is the official publication of the Local Government Association of NSW and Shires
Associations of NSW.
All material in is copyright and may not be resold or reproduced in part or in whole, in any format whatsoever, without prior written consent from TMTE Group and/or the respective
copyright holders. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those held by the publisher. No material in Local Agenda can be regarded as professional advice and the
publisher or its contributors cannot be held liable for losses incurred by reliance on information contained therein. ISSN 1449-0234
I’m extremely pleased to see that the made difficult by conflicting messages
Federal Government’s $85 million Building from the Minister and his Department. We
the Country fund has started to roll out. have a responsibility to ensure the quality
The Associations have been calling for a and sustainability of these services for our
community infrastructure fund for a number communities, so we hope to see the Minister
of years, and with a $7.8 billion infrastructure provide us with some clarity on things like
backlog in NSW, the fund is definitely a win (insert topics here)
for local communities.
The Associations maintain that the alliance
The fund will help deliver new and much- model proposed at the forum holds the
needed infrastructure upgrades and will play best potential for the majority of NSW
a key role in creating and maintaining local councils. It will help councils share resources
jobs, which is crucial in this harsh financial and technical capacity and meet best
climate. It will also compliment other federal practice management requirements. Most
government initiatives such as the Roads to importantly, the model includes enough
Recovery program. An ongoing commitment flexibility to allow individual councils to
to the program is essential to allow councils respond to local conditions and community
to strategically plan for future infrastructure needs. For further information the Inquiry,
programs and upgrades, so I hope to see please visit the Associations’ website at
the government secure this commitment. www.lgsa.org.au and click on the ‘Water’ link
Councils are working tirelessly to improve under Policy & Communications.
their communities – and this additional
funding is certainly a welcomed boost. Cr Bruce Miller
President, Shires Association
On a separate note, Associations recently
held a forum to discuss the Inquiry into
Local Water Utilities. While we are working
diligently with members to come up with
workable models for the binding alliances
recommended by the Inquiry, it is being
Local Government Week
3 to 9 August 2009
Get your council involved in
Local Government Week!
Promote the importance of Local
Government to your community!
To find out how, visit:
Proudly brought to you by:
There’s no doubt that the new NSW Housing How is this possible when panel members
Code is ambiguous and confusing. In its appointed by the Minister will never face
first month of operation, the Department of an election and be accountable to the
Planning received more than 1300 enquiries local community? There are better ways
about the code from councils, planners, of achieving these objectives, including
residents and developers across the state. establishing Independent Hearing and
Assessment, which conduct hearings into
The Associations had predicted this
controversial or complex developments and
widespread confusion, and set up an
provide council with a written report before
online Housing Code Monitor to provide
a decision is made.
councils with information and keep track
of difficulties. We’ve already provided the Yet another blow to Local Government is
Department with one report detailing some the $20,000 cap on developer contributions.
key problems – such as hasty changes to Nearly 30 councils have advised the DOP
zoning certificates and the need for broader they cannot deliver basic infrastructure to
local variations. These reports are driven their community due to the threshold. And
by council input, so please visit our site and the Department has been so overwhelmed
provide us with your feedback. by applications to exceed the cap that they
have had to push back their decision date –
The Department of Planning (DOP)
proof that this will place many councils in an
also recently announced Joint Regional
unworkable position. Our communities rely
Planning Panels. These panels (of which
on us to deliver quality facilities and services
only 2 of 5 members are Local Government
– but this is impossible to achieve without
representatives) will control developments
extra funding. We’re urging the Department
worth more than $10m and ecotourism
to seriously consider all applications over this
projects over $5m – again removing
powers from councils and placing them
into the hands of the State Government. Cr Genia McCaffery
The Planning Minister claims the panels President, Local Government Association
will depoliticise the development process.
IN THE NEWS
formal partnership with
Local Government in nSW
to continue until 2012
Country Energy and the Local Government and Shires
Associations of NSW have signed a new three-year
agreement, extending their formal partnership to 2012.
The agreement sees Country Energy continue to provide
financial and other support to the LGSA to help them in
their mission, to provide leadership to, and advocacy for,
Local Government for the benefit of local communities.
President of the Shires Association, Cr Bruce Miller, said
that the support from Country Energy was very welcome,
considering the current financial climate and changes Front (L-r): ramy Soussou – Country Energy, General
occurring within the energy industry. Manager retail Sales & Marketing; Cr Bruce Miller –
LGSA, President Shires Association; Bill Frewen –
“It is extremely generous of Country Energy to continue Country Energy, Executive General Manager Customer &
to provide this much needed support that enriches the Corporate Affairs. BACk (L-r): Peter Coulton – LGSA,
relationships between local councils and between local Director Corporate Services; Col Ussher – Country Energy,
government and the community,” he said. Executive General Manager Infrastructure Strategy.
The agreement helps make possible opportunities for
councils to network, discuss and collaborate on a range of A call for more women on
issues affecting local communities. councils
President of the Local Government Association, Cr Genia Women will be urged to take a bigger role in local
McCaffery, said that Country Energy’s support contributed government, with a new committee to advise on ways to
greatly to local government activities. get more in senior and elected positions.
“The support of Country Energy allows us to work with In Blacktown, of 15 councillors only three are female.
Local Government across NSW on a cohesive approach
Not one council in Western Sydney has an equal ratio of
to delivering the very best of services to our communities,”
male-to-female councillors, and of 12 councils, there is only
one female mayor and one female deputy mayor.
“Local Government Week – which gives local councils a
Local Government Minister Barbara Perry said the
chance to highlight the range of diverse services they offer
committee would talk with the State Government about
to community members – would not happen without their
how to get more women onto councils.
“It is important we encourage more women into the local
Country Energy’s managing director, Craig Murray,
government arena to ensure a diverse range of views that
said Country Energy will continue to support Local
reflect the complexity of our community,’’ Ms Perry said.
Government and local communities.
Representatives of key groups on the committee include
“It is fundamental to the sustainability of our business.
the Australian Local Government Women’s Association,
We work closely with local councils across all areas of our
the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW,
business, and understand and share many of the
and Local Government Managers Australia (NSW).
challenges and opportunities facing Local Government.
Working together we can help ensure our communities’ Minister for Women, Verity Firth said the new committee
needs are supported, while we rise to the challenges would bolster the already intelligent and valuable
before us,” he said. contributions women are making to Local Government.
IN THE NEWS
UK councils ban jargon Council’s submission will also point out the difficulty of
an elected MP to fairly represent an even larger area, the
Our ambassador says with our blue sky thinking and can do variety of community interests that need representation
culture, we will be able to value-add towards a single point of and the potential difficulties for constituents to access their
contact that should define the coterminosity parameters for MP. Council believes maintenance of rural, regional and
the predictors of beaconicity. remote seats can be achieved by “topping up” one of the
If you did not understand the sentence above, fret not. genuine rural seats with outer metropolitan areas.
Britain’s Local Government Association has banned this A rural seat was lost in the 2004 distribution with seats
kind of jargon to improve communication between councils falling from 50 to 49.
and the people they serve.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is calling for
“The public sector must not hide behind impenetrable suggestions up until May 1, with these posted on the AEC
jargon and phrases. Why do we have to have ‘coterminous, website seeking further comment by May 15. The proposed
stakeholder engagement’ when we could just ‘talk to people’ redistribution report is expected to be released by August 7
instead?,” LGA Chairman Margaret Eaton said in a statement when objections to the report will be invited.
released by the organisation.
The LGA said removing such words from use was important Regional panels to decide
as people turned to local government bodies for help during
NSW will be divided into six regions, each with its own
“Unless information is given to people to explain what help
panel to determine which large projects can proceed, under
they can get during a recession then it could well lead to
a draft plan prepared by the State’s Planning Department.
more people ending up homeless or bankrupt,” Councillor
Eaton said. A discussion paper, circulated to planning insiders last week,
proposes Sydney be split into just two planning regions,
“If a council fails to explain what it does in plain English then
East and West, with separate panels for the North Coast and
local people will fail to understand its relevance to them or
Tableland, the Hunter and Central Coast, the South Coast
why they should bother to turn out and vote.”
and South East Region and the Western Region.
A list of 200 words and their alternatives has been
The paper reveals the first details of the new joint regional
published by the LGA in an attempt to cut jargon from
planning panels which are due to begin operating on July
local government speak. Some of the banned words
1 despite strong opposition from local councils, who have
include “double devolution”, “holistic governance”,
complained the panels will undermine local decision-
“inspectorates”, “place shaping” and “provider vehicles”.
making and accountability.
Other examples include:
Although councils will have two members on each five-
➤ taxonomy ➤ predictors of beaconicity
member panel, the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally,
➤ re-baselining ➤ synergies will appoint the other three, including the chairman.
➤ mainstreaming Councils say this will skew the decision-making power
away from them.
➤ holistic governance
The panels will determine development applications for
residential, mixed use and commercial projects worth
between $10 million and $100 million. Those above
Chairman of the Local Government Association,
$100 million will automatically be determined by the
Cr Margaret Eaton, said:
Government under Part 3(a) of the Planning Act, where
“We do not pretend to be perfect, but as this list shows, the department assesses a proposal and the minister
we are striving to make sure that people get the chance to determines it.
understand what services we provide.”
Developers have raised concerns about this process, with
The full list of ‘banned’ words can be found here: Aaron Gadiel, the head of the developers’ lobby group
http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=1716341 the Urban Task Force, complaining the process denies
its members a right of appeal to a court that even home
owners enjoy if their proposals are knocked back.
Council voices support for
retention of nSW rural seats There would be too many proposals for the panels to make
good decisions, said Ken Morrison, the NSW Executive
Warren Shire Council has added its voice to the call to keep Director of the Property Council.
rural seats in NSW when the planned redistribution of
federal electoral boundaries goes ahead. “Our preference would be for four panels in Sydney to
ensure the panels are not overworked. The current plan is
A shift in population means Queensland will gain the extra for the Sydney panels to make nearly two decisions a week,
seat lost by NSW and rural councils such as Warren are with each matter requiring a considerable amount of time,
keen to ensure it is not another rural seat that is lost. not just in decision-making but also in site visits.”
IN THE NEWS
town taps won’t run dry The program is scheduled to run until 2016-17 and has
now expended more than $758 million.
thanks to funding
The 340 water supply and sewerage projects that have
Wellington council has welcomed funds for emergency
been delivered have enhanced public health, improved
drought works that will improve the security of water
environmental outcomes and security of supply to more
supplies in Wellington and Geurie.
than one million people living in the country towns where
NSW water minister Phillip Costa has announced that those projects were delivered.
$100,000 will go towards projects to ensure the town’s
water supplies do not run out during dry periods.
$1.19m election bill disputed
The projects, which will be undertaken by Wellington by council
Council, include rehabilitating existing disused bores or
if necessary, constructing new bores at Wellington and Blacktown Council has yet to decide whether to pay the
Geurie for a total cost of $200,000. $1.19 million bill it has been charged to host last year’s local
The NSW Government will meet 50 per cent of the cost.
Mayor Charlie Lowles said it had estimated a cost of
Council’s acting director of technical services Eric Poga
$580,000, based on previous elections conducted by the
said the emergency drought works would be beneficial for
council, as compared to the Electoral Commission’s much
the future needs of the community.
“A couple of years ago the dam had 1.5 per cent of water
“The council will wait for the final invoice before deciding
in it and we started looking at what we could do in an
whether or not, when, how or if it would be paying the bill,’’
emergency situation; fortunately the rain came but in the
Cr Lowles said.
future if the dam runs low we can provide support for the
two towns,” Mr Poga said. “To meet this extra $600,000 council will have to use
The drought is continuing its stranglehold on many ratepayers’ funds for repairing roads, maintaining
communities across rural and regional NSW and Minister playgrounds and sports fields or putting resources in our
Costa said that if dry conditions continued, Wellington libraries.
and Geurie’s existing water supplies might not be sufficient “Our council could have run the elections in Blacktown for
to meet the communities needs, even under water half the cost of the commission.
“In the current economic climate, council does not need
“With the support of the Rees Government, Wellington the extra strain of a ridiculous election bill.’’
Council is acting to ensure the town’s water supplies do not
run dry over summer,” he said. Local Government Association president Genia McCaffery
said the charges, ranging from about $60,000 for a small
The minister said that the funding was being provided
council, were excessive.
through the NSW Government’s $1.1 billion Country
Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program. She said the Government had controlled council rate
increases and yet kept increasing their costs by making
“This essential community program has so far provided
councils use the commission to run its elections.
assistance to more than 340 projects directly benefiting
more than one million people in rural and regional NSW,” Ms McCaffery said it was a money-making exercise for
Mr Costa said. the State Government to pass on costs to the councils that
belonged to them.
The Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program
provides technical and financial assistance to local water NSW councils ran their own elections until 2004, when
utilities to better plan and manage their water supply and the Government decided the Electoral Commission
sewerage businesses. should appoint returning officers to ensure the polls were
The program is managed by the Department of Water and independent and impartial.
Energy, who work in partnership with local water utilities An Electoral Commission spokesman said it was caught
in regional NSW to manage town water supplies during in the middle of the council’s battle with the State
drought. Government over election costs.
The benefits and outcomes of this program are that water He said the commission had fulfilled its legal obligations to
supply and sewerage services in urban areas of regional conduct the elections under the Local Government Act.
NSW are appropriate, affordable, cost-effective and well
managed, meet community needs, protect public health The spokesman said debate on whether it was the right
and achieve sustainable environmental outcomes. system was a matter for the Local Government Minister.
DEPARTMENT OF ENvIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE NSW ADvERTORIAL
Canterbury clears contamination from
kerbside organics recycling
contamination in kerbside
sting Reducingcollections can greatly earth
for a healthy increase
nsW prevented th
mental benefits. Compost creates healthy soils – the foundation for healthy eco-systems, saves water, reduces
equivalent of 400
environmental and economic benefits of
and improves agricultural productivity. tonnes of Carbon
council waste and resource recovery services.
take sorted organic material to council collection depots
ic material for council collection specify compost in landscaping and rehabilitation works. this is the same as
taking 100,000 Car
ng at www.livingthing.net.au
omposting Awareness Week, 4-10 May.
Often, the difference between high and low levels of the road.
contamination can be as simple as having clear, open
stakeholder communication and regular follow up of
reported contamination. Canterbury City Council provides “Using reliable reports, our audit and education staff
an example of how such processes, if implemented by an approach householders who are using the service
informed and committed team, can lead to outstandingly inappropriately and provides them with information about
low levels of contamination. which materials belong in each of the three bins given to
residents. This face-to-face approach has proved successful”.
Jim Montague, General Manager at Canterbury
City Council, proudly reports that audited levels of Council’s recycling education campaign for their culturally
contamination in their garden vegetation collection service and linguistically diverse community is also credited for
have been maintained at under half of one percent. encouraging low-contamination behaviour in council’s
garden organics collection service.
“The key to this great result is that the contractor’s
collection staff are committed and consistent in Together, these elements have led to Canterbury City
reporting contamination and identifying contaminated Council being nominated for the 2009 Compost Industry
bins and loads for follow up by Canterbury City Council”, Leadership Award for Most Improved Contamination
said Mr Montague. Management in Source Separated Organics. The winner
will be announced at the Compost Ball on 13 June 2009
The Department of Environment and Climate Change
Reducing Contamination of Dry Recyclables and
Garden Organics at the Kerbside guide can help you
improve your collection and contamination management
systems. The guide was developed using extensive research
and analysis of garden organics and co-collected food and
garden organics collection systems. It contains practical
examples for you to reduce contamination and can be
found online at
For more information about the Compost Ball visit
That’s only one side of a complicated issue, but they have
a compelling argument; water + farmers = food. Known
now as the environmental water purchases, the Federal
buyback scheme was set up to return environmental flow to
our rivers and wetlands. Whether you look at this from an
environmental perspective or a pragmatic one it all amounts
to the same thing – the health of the farming community
depends entirely on the health of the river system.
What many fail to overlook when they beat their drum for
various causes is that the system is currently overallocated
for the amount of water available, even in non-drought
conditions. So, there is little choice but to reduce the
amount of entitlement in the system to a more realistic
and sustainable level. But at what cost? This is the question
currently plaguing all those with a connection to the land.
“At enormous cost to all our communities,” says Terry
Hogan, rice farmer and Mayor of Jerilderie, ‘this is the
biggest problem with the water buyback scheme – the
By Lisa Kinahan knock-on effects of the decline in the agricultural industry.
If the buyback guts communities, who is going to help these
people... the State Government or the Federal Government
Jerilderie is located on the Newell – there just doesn’t seem to be an overall plan.”
Highway, approximately 60 The LGSA have been active in calling for participation
kilometres north of the Victorian to represent all those in the affected shires and to have a
border and is nestled on the banks of voice on such a critical national issue. In August of last
year the LGSA put forward a submission to the Federal
the Billabong Creek, the longest creek Government. In summary the LGSA’s concerns echo
in Australia. those of farmers and rural communities with their greatest
concerns being around the impacts of the buyback program
Renowned in history for being the only place in NSW that on regional and local economies.
Ned Kelly visited and the origin of the Jerilderie Letter, it
is a thriving agricultural area. As well as producing rice, According to Shires President, Bruce Miller, “The LGSA
wheat, soya beans, canola, wool, beef, grapes, and onions, believe there is a need to establish a regular consultative
latest statistics show that 24% of the gross national tomato mechanism between the Australian Government and peak
product is grown in the area, as well as 5% of the world local government bodies, such as the LGSA, not only on the
supply of licorice. Restoring the Murray- Darling Basin Program but also on a
number of other programs under the Water for the Future
This was once the picture of perfection. However, times Plan to ensure a co-ordinated and cohesive approach.”
have changed and things have not been so picture perfect
at Jeriliderie or indeed anywhere along this stretch of the Miller adds, “Many areas in regional and rural NSW
Murray River for some years now. Hit hard by a monster are largely dependent on agricultural industry, with
drought, the district has become a dustbowl and is just significant long-term investment and little opportunity
holding itself together, hoping to ride out the drought. for diversification. The purchase of water entitlements
So, when the government announced a water buyback from irrigators and other water dependent industries
scheme the farmers were left wondering how their already could ultimately result in these industries leaving rural and
precarious community was going to survive. regional areas.”
a local issue
Politics and policies aside, what are the practical solutions
for farmers, local government and communities that are
dependent on farming communities for their survival?
preSS As this edition
of Local Agenda was going to
Farmers like Hogan would like to see Local Government print, the NSW Minister for Water, the Hon Phil
having a more active role as the voice of local communities, Costa, announced a freeze on water buybacks
as councils, as collectives such as the networks of Regional until a more equitable solution can be found.
Organisation of Councils (ROCs) and through peak bodies
such as the LGSA. At the time of the freeze approximately 97% of
water buybacks so far had come from NSW.
Active campaigners at the Riverina and Murray Regional
Organisation of Councils (RAMROC) are collecting funds The LGSA supports the Minister’s statement
for a campaign from the region to promote the case of that there is a need to urgently balance water
water for food. RAMROC Executive Officer, Ray Stubbs, purchases between all the Murray-Darling states,
says, “it’s not just a country issue – we all eat food and and congratulates the State Government for finally
so we want to get captains of industry engaged. The two taking a stand on this issue.
meetings we’ve had so far are beginning to address some
of the solutions. One of the objectives is to work with the
government at all levels to try and find some answers – it “Computer-programmed moisture probes tell me how far
needs to be a collaborative approach.” the water is down in the soil profile and I can check that
on screen and adjust accordingly. If you let it dry out too
At the same time farmers are taking advantage of major much, it takes so much more water to get back to optimum
advances in technology to more accurately manage their levels. The moisture probes ensure a consistency in
soil and water use to ensure that every precious drop is efficiency, and minimise water usage. After a summer crop
used and not wasted. we’ll go in and plant a winter crop because the moisture
is there after summer watering. Generally a good rain will
Coleambally crop farmer David Belato is a pioneer of keep crops going during winter.” Says Belato,
conservation agriculture and an advocate of the role
technology plays in current farming practices. Nearby dairy producer, Lloyd Chesworth is also dependant
on technology to ensure each of his cows is getting the
Conservation agriculture includes precision techniques water, feed and, where necessary, the medication they need.
such as raised beds and watered down furrows. The
distance between plants is chosen by computers receiving So the future for the Murray Darling region? Weather
data from satellites so that they are not too close together, aside it’s all about keeping the lines of communication
which can result in sudden death and not too far apart open and involving all levels of government to ensure
which means water wastage. And, as the name suggests, there is a countrywide and co-operative approach to this
they are in a precision straight line. national issue.
nSW CoUnCILS nEEd
A d E q UAt E
Cr Bruce Miller, President of the Shires Association, said
By Kate Walsh that despite income restrictions councils have made some
significant gains in addressing the infrastructure backlog
through increased infrastructure spending.
The Fiscal Star report confirms what The annual infrastructure renewal funding shortfall has
Local Government in NSW already declined from around $500m in 2005 to $150m pa in
knows – that inadequate financing 2007/08.
has forced many NSW councils into “This demonstrates that councils have become very adept
an infrastructure renewal backlog. at doing a great deal with very little,” he said.
However, the Local Government and Shires Associations “We have contained operational expenditure increases at
believe that the report also shows improvement for the around CPI levels, which has allowed us to make greater
Local Government sector despite obstacles and constraints. funding allocations to infrastructure.
The ‘2009 NSW Local Government Financial Sustainability The newly released Integrated Planning Guidelines
Review’ bears out up the findings of the Independent will reinforce councils’ work at improving long term
Inquiry into the Financial Sustainability of NSW Local infrastructure management.
Government conducted in 2005/06.
“This demonstrates that councils
President of the Local Government Association Cr Genia
McCaffery said that long term under-resourcing for NSW have become very adept at doing a
councils has resulted in the infrastructure renewal backlog
outlined in the report.
great deal with very little.”
“Through a combination of inadequate tax transfers “A renewed focus and improvement in our asset
from State and Federal coffers, and rate pegging, Local management has already been reflected in the
Government has been made to operate on a minimal improvement in the backlog highlighted in the report,” said
budget for years,” she said. Cr Miller.
“Now we are facing a cap on Developer levies, which “The Guidelines will only help councils reinforce this
have been one of Local Government’s only avenues for approach.
attempting to keep pace with the needs of our growing
communities. “However, we need additional funding to address this
issue, and we would like to see the State and Federal
“None the less the annual infrastructure renewal funding Governments provide an ongoing commitment to funding
shortfall has declined from around $500m in 2005 to programs like the Building Australia Fund and the Regional
$150m pa in 2007/08.” and Community Local Infrastructure Fund.”
Local government concerns
elections referred to inquiry
By Kate Walsh
The Local Government and Shires “And in one blatant example of mismanagement it appears
that residents of one shire have been asked to foot a
Associations have welcomed news $15,000 bill for the rent of premises that Council had
from NSW Premier Rees that there provided free of charge.
will be an investigation into the “The Premier’s decision to investigate our claims proves
conduct and escalating costs of the we’ve raised some legitimate and serious issues that
2008 Local Government elections. urgently need to be addressed, and highlighted the need
for accountability of the State Government and the NSW
Responding to calls from councils across the state, Electoral Commission in conducting our elections.”
Premier Rees has referred the matter to the Joint
With rate pegging pushing finances to breaking point
Standing Committee on Electoral Matters for Inquiry.
already, councils simply can’t afford to let crucial funds
The Associations believe that this indicates an important
turning point in their ongoing lobbying for fairness and
transparency in the conduct of the elections. Councils are encouraged to make their own submissions
and, if possible, provide a copy to the LGSA.
President of the Local Government Association Councillor
Genia McCaffery said that both NSW councils and voters The terms of reference for the inquiry are available at
will now have a chance to examine the conduct of the NSW http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/
Electoral Commission. committee.nsf/0/7481444A850D310BCA25758300129128.
“Finally we have the opportunity to get to the bottom of
these poorly conducted and expensive elections, and get
some answers on where our money was spent,” she said.
“The State Government took over the elections saying
they wanted to ensure that the people of NSW had Local
Government elections conducted with the same level of
professionalism and transparency as the State and Federal
“But the management of last year’s elections was appalling.”
President of the Shires Association Cr Bruce Miller said
that over the past 12 months, the Local Government and
Shires Associations have uncovered numerous examples of
what went wrong with the elections.
“We have examples of unsecured ballot boxes, understaffed
polling booths, and lack of ballot papers – voters at one
booth that ran out of ballot papers were told to just go
home as their name had been crossed off the roll and they
wouldn’t be fined,” he said
More than 20 of Australia’s biggest recycling companies have formed a unique
alliance with environment groups and local government to kick-start the
Australian economy through $2 billion in new infrastructure to increase
recycling by two million tonnes a year and create 6000 new jobs.
The National Recycling Initiative (NRI), launched last
By Lisa Kinahan month, detailed a plan to kickstart the green economy
to result in significant environmental benefits and
infrastructure improvements with an envisaged increase to
the industry’s workforce by 20 per cent. The alliance behind
the NRI said the plan for growth and new jobs made good
business and environmental sense and urged the Federal
Government to partner them in ensuring maximum
benefits were delivered for all Australians.
The NRI is clear though that investment is being sought sector categories. Thus Visy was seen as a packaging
at state level as Local Government is already bearing a company, not a (giant) recycling company.
significant burden (around $100million p.a) in terms of
the State Government levies. The importance of the industry to the economy was hidden
and it did not have the profile it deserved. This is one
According to alliance campaigner Dave West, “Local thing the NRI hopes to change as it engages ministers in
Government already plays a leading role in recycling its call for accelerated depreciation and capital support to
activity and as a sector is already carrying the lion’s share accelerate investment.
of the government burden for stimulating good outcomes.
It is important that Local Government should not be Says Jeff Angel, alliance member and head of Total
expected to take on any increased financial burden for Environment Centre, “some people have said we should
waste management without significant relief for their wait until waste levies reach sufficient harshness and the
recycling activities.” market will take care of it. But this ignores the capacity
of landfills to lock up resources in the next few years,
Adds West, “it is the NRI’s view that states should starving reprocessing plants of their essential inputs. You
contribute towards this stimulus (they get substantial can’t attract investors and you can’t add over $770 of value
economic and employment benefits) and that the most for every tonne if you don’t have access to the resources
effective way to achieve this would be for states to redirect currently wasted in landfill.”
a proportion of levies to this program via the Local
Government sector.” The LGSA is in agreement and welcomes the proposal.
“We are trying to close the circle of Commenting on the new direction, LGA’s McCaffery said,
“Local Government is all for stimulating the economy
widespread community enthusiasm and providing environmental improvements but for most
for recycling, and create a vibrant councils they are already achieving high return rates for
home-consumed recyclables and containers through their
industry that wants to grow and kerbside schemes. Whilst we recognise that NRI plans are
develop economic policy settings. to increase that capacity, Local Government would also
like to see more emphasis placed on away-from-home
It deserves support.” schemes such as the Container Deposit Legislation to
spread the load and ensure that materials have sufficient
However in NSW the emphasis would be on utilising value throughout their life cycle to make the system
the existing waste levies to provide a rebate to fund the economically viable.”
program. President of the Local Government Association
Councillor Genia McCaffery welcomed this direction, Members of the alliance are committed to making
“We see a large proportion of the waste levies every year sweeping changes in the sector and stopping the policy
going to Treasury and its time we saw the levies benefitting failures they consider have been witnessed over the years.
waste reduction and recycling for everyone in NSW from The last time Australia had a National Waste Policy was in
residents to businesses.” 1992 and since then millions of items of e-waste have been
dumped into landfill.
If supported nationally the NRI will provide billions
of dollars of private investment into new recycling The NRI is about changing the landscape of decision
infrastructure over the next 3-5 years with the following making – public and private – for recycling. Says, West,
triple bottom line benefits: “we are trying to close the circle of widespread community
enthusiasm for recycling, create a vibrant industry that
➤ Retention of the 10,000 current recycling industry workers;
wants to grow and develop economic policy settings. It
➤ Injection of $2 billion into new infrastructure;
➤ Increased recycling by two million tonnes per year;
➤ Employment of 2000 extra direct staff and a further The NRI recognises that Local Government is critical to the
4000 indirect jobs; growth of the sector as gatekeepers rather than facilitators
➤ Increase in the value of recycling exports by $500 million in building and infrastructure and will be talking to LGSA
per year; and
and other peak bodies about the involvement of Local
➤ Direct benefit to Australian economy of $1.5 billion/yr and
approximately $7 billion in new activity.
One of the early realisations in the exercise was that So its watch this space for a while but hopefully Australia
the engine room of value that recycling provides via the will soon have a world class recycling industry that will take
reprocessing plants was not even recognised in traditional the management of our waste well into the future.
It has forced the hand of many New South Wales councils
with little choice but to introduce water restrictions,
which are often unpopular. Goulburn Mulwaree Council,
for example, introduced such restrictions in 2002, and
they have been in place ever since. Here, the lack of water
became so severe that in June 2005 Council went several
steps further and opened up the controversial discussion
of whether or not to start using ‘recycled’ waste water (or
treated effluent) to augment drinking supply; a procedure
known as “indirect potable reuse”. However, due to public
concern, this did not go ahead. Instead, Council now uses
this water, rather than the town’s drinking water supply to
irrigate some 220 hectares of agricultural land.
Recycled, or reclaimed, water can come from a number
RECyCLING of sources including effluent (black water), domestic
bathroom and laundry water (grey water) or municipal
wastewater. With an increasing population and demand
on our natural resources, waste water reuse is becoming a
By Adam Harper matter of necessity for both urban and rural councils.
Armidale/Dumaresq Council in the New England region
also irrigates some 200 hectares of crops with treated
Australia is the driest inhabited
effluent as opposed to releasing it into nearby rivers. This
continent on earth, yet Australians saves 1.7 billion litres of treated effluent from flowing into
have one of the highest levels per local waterways. There are now 500 Sewage Treatment
Plants (STP) across the country doing the same thing and
capita of water consumption. On
recycling at least some of their effluent.
top of this, our population has
President of the Shires Association, Councillor Bruce
tripled since the end of World War
Miller, said: “water, or the lack of it, is one of the most
II. A combination of these issues, pressing issues facing our communities today. We need to
along with crippling drought, has make sure that councils are using this precious resource
sustainably because it impacts on social wellbeing, personal
left many communities high and
health, and environmental health. Even business and
certainly dry. economic growth are affected by the availability of clean
water. In this state, water is our oil. “
Apart from irrigation, recycled water can also be used
for industry and even more domestic purposes such as
watering golf courses or even home gardens. In Sydney,
Rouse Hill provides recycled water to more than 17,500
homes. A Port Kembla recycling operation provides around
20-million litres of water a day to BlueScope Steel to assist
in industrial operations.
Adds Miller, “recycling water is a great short term solution,
but we need to work across all levels of government on a
long term strategy to safeguard our water supplies. Part
of that strategy needs to revolve around education. On
average, each Australian uses around 350 litres of water
per day. The LGSA encourages Local Government to make
communities more aware of their water use and try to
reduce that figure by up to half.”
NSW PLANNING LEGISLATION
a work in progreSS
NSW LGSA is calling on the next step: JRRPs
The Department is now set to introduce new Joint Regional
Department of Planning (DoP) for Planning Panels (JRRPs). To come into operation from mid
a full review of the recent changes 2009, the panels will take more planning control from local
to the planning system before they communities.
proceed with any further changes. Developments worth more than $10m, and ecotourism
projects over $5m, will go to the local JRPP along with
While the Associations welcome the structure of the DoP’s public and private infrastructure projects.
timetable which details timelines for a number of further
changes for NSW Planning during 2009 and beyond, With three state government appointed members and just
confusion surrounding the introduction of the NSW two council appointed members, the Panels put the local
Housing Code shows that further consideration needs to go community in a minority position.
into the introduction of new changes.
The Associations reject DoP claims that the JRPPs will
‘depoliticise the development process (and) increase the
Code confusion could have transparency and accountability of the NSW planning
been prevented system.’
With the Department receiving in excess of 1300 inquiries
on the Housing Codes during its first month of operation, The state appointed members will be as open to political
it’s clear that many issues still need to be clarified. pressures as council representatives, but will never face an
election and be held accountable to the local community.
With repeated calls from councils to trial the code before
implementation dismissed, their frustration is palpable.
Certification timetable extended
The Associations recently launched a web blog to allow On a more positive note, the timetable for accrediting
councils to compare their experiences in implementing council officers has been pushed back, allowing time for
the code and suggest improvements. Nearly two thirds of further discussion on alternative options.
councils in NSW have joined the site.
The current proposal will be expensive and provide no real
benefit to communities.
Councils exposed to liability?
Amid widespread confusion about how the Code should The Associations support a system of corporate
be interpreted and administered, councils are still trying accreditation, which will provide the necessary level of
to interpret what information must supplied on new S149 oversight to ensure council certifiers have the necessary
Certificates, let alone modify their software. skills and experience.
A key concern for many is that due to this uncertainty they There is still a large question mark over funding for these
may be exposed to potential liability – which has led to reforms in a tight financial environment. While the
them seeking independent legal advice on their duty of care Minister has acknowledged this and amended aspects of
to their communities. the timetable, these cost implications must be considered.
Feedback from one council indicates that as many as 300
additional applications now classify as non complying and Council input crucial
will have to go through the longer DA process. If council staff are interested in contributing to the
discussion surrounding the housing code, they can register
In this case the code is too restrictive and, unlike their own to take part in council-only discussions at
local codes, does not target small residential developments http://housingcodemonitor.lgsa.org.au/.
that are common to the local area.
Feedback from this site is helping the LGSA to work with
In contrast councils on the other end of the spectrum have the DoP to clean up the Code as soon as possible and
found the complying development too lax, with the new develop a more constructive relationship between Local
Code allowing more floor space than their existing LEP. and State Government.
OuT & ABOuT
OuT & ABOuT
Genevieve Caudery , Australian author and Southern Highlands resident
Debbie McKinnon, Kate Bryce Courtenay feigns a heart attack at the
Orme, and Sydney launch of Tulip Time 2009 in Bowral. With him
Pemberton experimenting are Southern Highlands Tourism Manager Steve
to create their bush Rosa and event coordinator Harriet Goodall.
The ‘tea-themed’ Bay Day celebrations inspired
WILLoUGhBy Alice in Wonderland style events, with a Mad
Hatter’s tea party being a main attraction.
Renowned local artist
Debbie Mackinnon was
joined by artists of all
abilities for an enjoyable,
creative and peaceful
afternoon in the bush at
Willoughby City Council’s
bush landscape painting
Sunday 3 May.
Local residents enjoy a cup and saucer ride at Bay Bay Day patrons sample
Day. Bay Day was held at McIlwaine Park in Rhodes some of the many teas on
on Sunday, 29 March, and had a ‘Tea’ theme. offer at the celebrations.
If you have an event you would like featured in out & About please email Lisa kinahan at firstname.lastname@example.org titled out & About.
Ending the reign
By Jon Dee, Bottled Water Alliance
For many decades water bubblers have been an everyday feature of Australian
life. Many of us remember taking a welcome drink on a hot summer’s day, or
slaking our thirst after sport in the park. However, in recent years, usage has
declined, as have numbers of this once ubiquitous community facility.
Research commissioned by Do Something! shows that 85% indicates that bottled water sales have already fallen by 9% in
of Australians no longer trust the drinking water from old- the UK, so this is an achievable target.
A key facet of the BWA campaign is to partner with
This concern over bubbler water quality and a reduction councils and help them switch from the old water bubbler
in bubbler numbers have led to a significant increase in to water fountains that are wheelchair friendly and
Australia’s usage of bottled water. This increase in bottled vandal-resistant. A recent partnership with Manly Council
water use has had a significant impact on the environment. exemplifies the possibilities for installing free filtered
However, bottled water is simply unsustainable. According
to statistics from DECC, at least 50 million litres of oil is
used every year to manufacture, distribute, refrigerate and
dispose of Australia’s bottled water. Annually, the industry
The Bottled Water Alliance,
is also responsible for generating tens of thousands of
tonnes of greenhouse gases. In its production processes,
through Founding Sponsor
the Australian bottled water industry also uses over a Culligan Water, is currently
billion litres of water every year. offering councils, schools
and community groups a
Globally, billions of plastic water bottles end up as litter or
landfill. These discarded bottles are a major component
special Community Grant:
of litter, adding significantly to waste stream management free water filter equipment
costs for councils. for every water fountain
installed or upgraded, with
Additionally, bottled water does not make economic sense. A
litre often costs more than a litre of petrol. Australians spend
replacement filters provided
half a billion dollars a year on the bottled stuff. It’s ironic at half price (this reduces
when Australia has some of the best tap water in the world. their cost to about $60 per
bubbler per quarter).
We as a community can do something to counter the bottled
water phenomenon. The Bottled Water Alliance (BWA) For information e-mail
aims to work with councils and the community to reduce the info@BottledWaterAlliance.com
usage of single-use bottled water by 20% by 2011. Research
the Manly Council experience
Manly Council on Sydney’s northern beaches has led the
way by working with the BWA to install filtered water
drinking fountains on Manly Corso and Beach. To date, six
have been installed, with at least 14 more to be added.
These filtered water stations are an ingenious update on
the bubbler concept, with new features designed to address
contemporary lifestyles. They are vandal-resistant and
hygienic, and include prominent signage that makes them
highly visible. They do not accumulate twigs and litter like
the old-style bubblers, and the water spouts horizontally,
making them easier to drink from.
The fountains also contain an easy to replace the filter that
removes chlorine (the chlorine smell of bubbler water on
warm days is a major reason for the public aversion to old-
style bubblers). Taps on the signage also allow bottles to be
refilled with free, high quality filtered water.
Manly’s results have been outstanding. Council estimates
that the six water fountains have so far prevented the
purchase of 150,000 litres of bottled water, removing up
to 250,000 plastic water bottles from the waste stream.
Garbage collection volumes in the relevant areas have
decreased 30-40% (an estimated 50% of this is plastic
bottles). People have been lining up to refill their reusable
bottles and to drink from the fountains.
The Manly approach is reinforced by Do Something’s
national research, where two-thirds of those questioned
said they’d drink less bottled water if there were better
community water fountains. This poll of 1,000 Australians
also showed that 80% of people want more water fountains
in community locations.
The Bottled Water Alliance is inviting councils around
Australia to join the Alliance. Your council just has
to formally decide that it will work to reduce bottled
water usage in your community. Changes to practices
may include stopping the purchase of bottled water for
council office, promoting the use of reusable bottles in
the community and of course upgrading your drinking
bubblers. To join the Alliance simply email your intent to
Giving the community access to free high quality drinking
water is something that councils are uniquely positioned
to deliver. The old-fashioned water bubblers deliver water
that people don’t trust. Water fountains with filters gives
people the chlorine free water that they want to drink.
Manly Council has shown the way for other councils to
reinvent the water bubbler for the 21st Century. Why not
join them and make a real difference for the environment
and your community?
For more information visit BottledWaterAlliance.com.au or email info@BottledWaterAlliance.com.au
Photography by: Street Furniture Australia
Shires Association of NSW Annual Conference Country and Regional
1 to 3 June Living Expo 2009
7 to 9 August
Challenges - Bring them On! is the theme for the 2009 Shires
Conference, to be held at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney. 2009 The Country Week Expo has undergone major a makeover, and has
will see over 450 delegates gather to elect a new Executive and been transformed into the Country & Regional Living Expo. The
discuss the many challenges facing Local Government. For more new name and logo is matched only by an exciting new program.
information, please visit www.shiresconference.lgsa.org.au.
Still the only major event and regional promotional program of its
kind in NSW, the Expo continues to show city residents the work,
lifestyle and investment opportunities in country and regional NSW.
Local Government Week 2009
The 2009 Country & Regional Living Expo will be the biggest yet,
3 to 9 August
providing participating communities with tremendous exposure in
Local Government Week provides a focus for councils to promote the Sydney marketplace. The LGSA has been a long-time supporter
the importance of Local Government to the community. This of the Country and Regional Living Expo, and encourages councils
year’s theme is Keeping it Local. Councils have an opportunity to to consider promoting their community at the event.
showcase their services, projects and programs to their community
through events, activities and open days. To find out how to get To be involved in this year’s exciting Country & Regional Living
involved and some ideas for your Local Government Week, visit Expo, contact Peter Bailey on 0428 724 790, 02 6771 5633 or via
www.LGweek.lgsa.org.au. e-mail email@example.com.
Local Government Association of NSW Annual
24 to 28 October
Tamworth Regional Council will co-host the 2009 LGA Conference
at the Tamworth Entertainment Centre. With the theme Tough
Times, Smart Solutions, the 2009 conference will see over 600
delegates from member councils as well as representatives of
county councils. The LGA Conference is the annual policy-making
event for the 74 member councils of the Local Government
Association of NSW. For more information, please visit
Local Government Week Awards Evening 2009 AR Bluett Memorial Award 2009
5 August For 64 years the AR Bluett Memorial Award has each year
recognised two councils that have achieved the greatest relative
Local Government Week will be launched at the Local
progress in the State.
Government Week Awards Evening at Kirribilli Club, hosted
by North Sydney Council. This is a signature event in the The AR Bluett Memorial Award was established in 1944 by the
Associations’ calendar with prestigious awards such as the local government councils of New South Wales as a memorial to
RH Dougherty Awards for excellence in communication, Heart Albert Robert Bluett who died in April of that year.
Foundation Local Government Awards, Youth Week Local
Government Awards and The Cancer Council NSW Local The coveted bronze plaques, suitably inscribed, are presented
Government Awards. 2009 Local Government Week and the each year to the councils that were considered to have made the
awards evening are proudly sponsored by Country Energy. greatest relative progress during the previous year. One award is
made to a council from the Local Government Association, and one
to a council from the Shires Association
The AR Bluett Memorial Award is recognised as the greatest
accolade a council can achieve and the plaque is a source of pride
not only to the members of the council and its officers, but also to
the people of the area.
Entries close on 31 July 2009. The AR Bluett Memorial Award 2009
Heart Foundation Local Government Awards 2009
entry form is available to download from the LGSA website
These awards provide an opportunity for councils to celebrate their www.lgsa.org.au.
achievements in improving heart health in Australian communities
and receive recognition for their commitment to creating healthier For more information on the AR Bluett Memorial Award please
communities. contact the Chairman, John Flannery, on phone/fax 02 6573 3256,
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initiatives that build a sense of community and encourage
people to be active, smoke free and make healthy food choices
are encouraged to enter. Community groups, schools, health and
community organisations and private industries that work with RH Dougherty Awards 2009
councils are also encouraged to enter.
The RH Dougherty Communication Awards recognise leading
Applications must either be from a council or have their approval. practice in communication management in councils and encourage
Entries must be received by Friday 5 June. Check the Heart greater understanding and accountability by councils to their local
Foundation website for more details, www.heartfoundation.org.au communities.
or call 1300 36 27 87.
Consultation and two-way communication between councils and
their communities is a vital part of building a partnership between
community and council, which Local Government recognises as
The Awards have two sections: Reporting to your Community
and Excellence in Communication and four categories within
each ranging from populations of more than 100,000 to less than
30,000, with a separate category for ROCs and county councils.
Managed by the LGSA, the Awards are judged by leading experts in
the communications field. Entries close Tuesday 9 June 2009.
WASTE NoT, WANT NoT
By Rowena Fairclough
Having held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Waste Management
Association of Australia (WMAA) since 2001, and with 20 years’ total
experience in the recycling and environmental industry, few are better placed
than Val Southam to weigh in on the issue of Local Government and waste
The NSW State Government’s recently released Waste be able to service Local Government needs in this area and
Avoidance and Resource Recovery Progress Report would have a level playing field in which to invest.”
optimistically stated that NSW Municipal Recycling Targets,
having increased from 30% in 2002-03 to 38% in 2006-07 are Of course the global financial crisis is not helping, although
“tracking well” towards 2014’s target of 66%; a claim which Southam points out that while the impact is being felt on
has been met with a certain amount of scepticism from a the recycling side, it hasn’t had much of an effect on waste
variety of interested parties, including WMAA. management.
“The report would indicate to me that more investment into “The recycling – especially metal recycling – where the focus
resource recovery is needed and that focus on commercial is specifically on materials and where the market prices have
and industrial waste is also required to help meet future dropped is surely being hurt, there’s no doubt.”
targets,” said Val Southam, WMAA’s CEO.
A further obstacle is the fact that a cohesive federal waste
In Southam’s opinion, the key to meeting waste reduction
management policy has even not existed until recently, and
and recycling targets lies in infrastructure investment.
in fact is still ensconced in the development process.
“As it seems targets will not be met with current practices
“Not having a standardised policy for waste management
and infrastructure, then more AWT facilities that can extract
makes it very difficult for multi-state members to deal with
more recyclables from the residual waste stream are in the
minds of many councils,” said Val Southam. it when everything’s done differently in each state. In terms
of product stewardship, it has to be dealt with on a national
“The high waste levies that are charged in NSW badly need level. There’s no use in having state or local-based policies for
to be hypothecated back to the industry. If, for example, these things like that – it doesn’t work.”
funds could be used to set up these facilities, purchase the
required land and get the required approvals, industry would
On the subject of national policies, the Local Government With a significant proportion of the WMAA’s membership
and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) is currently comprised of Local Government representatives, Southam
lobbying for a national approach to container deposit says that encouraging their participation is a priority.
legislation, similar to that which currently exists in South
“At the moment more than half of our members are Local
Australia. Surprisingly, Southam says that the WMAA has
Government. We keep them up to date with our newsletters.
never discussed the prospect.
They come to events, seminars, workshops and conferences
“I think among our members there would probably be a but they don’t tend to get as involved as the private sector.”
mixed view, so I don’t see it as something that we really need
One way in which WMAA hopes to encourage more
to take a position on.”
interaction with Local Government is through inviting a
Although the WMAA did not have any direct involvement representative onto the board.
in formulating the National Waste Policy: Managing Waste
“This will ensure they can have their voice more closely
to 2020 which was released by Environment Minister Peter
heard,” said Val Southam.
Garrett on April 7th, Southam is quietly optimistic about its
future impact on the industry. With the recent election of a new President and Vice
President, the issue of WMAA’s leadership and management
“I certainly think now that the Federal Government is going
is front and centre for the Association. Prior to the
to have a national waste strategy, that it’s a positive step in the
announcement of WMAA’s new executives, some speculated
that the WMAA would soon take a more active leadership
The WMAA is also working on a feasibility study role in the waste management industry.
commissioned by the Department of the Environment,
Water, Heritage and the Arts which, explained Southam, will “I certainly think now that
look into establishing a national mechanism for collecting, the Federal Government is going
storing, collating and accessing data.
to have a national waste strategy,
“In addition, WMAA conducts national annual surveys of
organics processors and landfills, the aggregated data from that it’s a positive step in the
which will be made available to DEWHA to assist with policy right direction.”
While neither confirming nor denying conjectures about
The development of an official WMAA response to the the future of WMAA’s strategic direction, Southam said, “As
National Waste Policy will be a more lengthy process long as it’s carefully managed and everyone’s views are taken
however, given the organisation’s broad membership. into consideration, then we should be involved in the debate.
On occasion detractors have cited this somewhat unwieldy There are things that we can agree on and those are the
membership as a weakness; while acknowledging the things that we should be looking for.”
criticism, Southam points out that the organisation has Southam herself was quite surprised when in February
successfully developed policies and processes to deal with WMAA moved to advertise her position as CEO,
the issue. but downplays it as a bureaucratic issue rather than a
“Any position we take as an organisation has to be at a very management ‘clash’.
high level. But what we have tended to do is let the special “I understand it arose from some directors having the view
interest areas themselves have a view of their own. If we don’t that it was a requirement of good governance that CEO
have a collective view, we can give varying different views contracts are not rolled over when they come to the end
based on the different sectors.” of their term, but should be readvertised. I can say that
Writing for Inside Waste Weekly in October 2008, Southam this issue has now been deferred, and my contract will be
touched on one of these policies. In the past some members extended until the end of 2010.
had issued press releases or statements purporting to express “With a 50 percent change in the make-up of the board this
the opinion of WMAA as a whole without prior approval year, my future with WMAA beyond then will depend on the
from the organisation. views held by the majority of the new board members.”
“We’ve addressed that now so that all statements made in Ultimately Southam believes that the most crucial factor is
the name of the Association come through myself or the to maintain the financial viability of the Association so that it
President,” said Val Southam. “And then there’s a process can offer value to members.
to go through to come to a position that they might then
espouse as ours.” “Because without members, we don’t have an Association.”
LOCAL GOvERNMENT SuPER
LOCAL GOvERNMENT SuPER
markets? So what should
As you would already know, we are in the midst of a severe investors in
downturn in domestic and international share markets.
This market downturn was triggered by the sub-prime
mortgage crisis in the US and has had massive flow-on
effects causing problems in the global banking and business
sectors and for many governments around the world. As a
result we now see many economies falling into recession. Superannuation, for most investors, is a long-term
investment and sticking to a well-diversified, quality
An important point to make is that the extent of the portfolio in line with your goals and risk profile remains
economic meltdown, which is now commonly referred the soundest long-term strategy. Whilst it may be tempting
to as the global financial crisis, was not foreseen by most to become more defensive in these times and to reduce
financial commentators and analysts. It is fair to say exposure to growth assets (e.g. by moving investments to
that even when the economy and investment markets cash), such a strategy is unlikely to meet most investors’
are relatively stable it is difficult to forecast the returns long-term targets.
that members will receive in superannuation. With the
unprecedented events that have occurred it has become History has also shown that investors who change asset
impossible to predict when an economic recovery might allocation based on guesswork about whether the market
take place and therefore when investment returns is rising or falling (i.e. timing the market) rarely succeed.
might improve. That’s because they often crystallise losses by selling when
asset prices are low and rejoin the market after asset prices
It should be noted, however, that Governments and have already begun their recovery.
regulators here and abroad are engaging in substantial
stimulus measures. The Australian Government some time If you are concerned about your super investments or
ago announced a further stimulus package which may assist believe that they don’t meet your long-term goals it is
investment and employment. On the same day the Reserve important to consult a financial planner. Members of Local
Bank of Australia announced a 1% reduction in the cash Government Super have access to a financial planning
rate to 3.25% and it is hoped that this will also stimulate the service at no additional cost through FuturePlus Financial
economy. The Reserve Bank has since reduced the cash rate Services Pty Limited.
even further to 3%.
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quarter than in many previous quarters no one can be sure
that this represents a sustained turning in the market’s
fortunes. There are some promising signs, one example
being the degree of international unity and cooperation
displayed at the recent G20 conference in London, but the
basic causes of the global financial crisis remain very much
alive and no one can predict when they might be resolved.
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COuNCIL IN PROFILE
of school-aged people through to the ageing workforce,
addressing key skills shortage areas and relying on the
collaboration of numerous local partners. The GLP
partners – Gwydir Shire Council, TAFE New England,
Warialda High School, Bingara Central School, University
of New England, Bingara Community College and
Community College Northern Inland – provide a wide
helpinG rural CommunitieS thrive variety of training opportunities to the residents of Gwydir
Shire which may not otherwise be available to residents of a
By Meredith Downes small rural area.
At the core of the GLP are school-based traineeships
Skills shortages in remote areas which Rod Smith, Gwydir Shire Council’s Training and
Development Manager, believes is backbone to reducing
are a key issue councils must the problem of the skills shortages in the local area.
overcome to ensure the ongoing
“We see school-based traineeships as a way of giving
growth of local business and trade.
students more career choices and a meaningful experience
With many councils in such areas in the workplace while they are still full time students,”
faced with difficulties caused by he says.
little or no access to educational “The school-based aspect of the GLP encourages local
institutions, alternate methods young people, who would probably have left school at
of skill development and training or before year 10, to complete their HSC, because their
must be established. Traineeships enjoyment of the practical work they are involved in
motivates them to continue school.”
and apprenticeships are a practical
and financially viable method of Gwydir Shire Council has overseen a variety of traineeship
developing skills amongst local certificates ranging from children’s services to commercial
cookery, and has even designed the program so it can be
community members of all ages. Here used to fill specific needs in the community.
we profile Moree and Gwydir Shire
Councils, two rural councils who have “There was a substantial need to improve the number
of aged care nurses in the community so, through
developed ways to overcome their collaboration with Warialda High School, a provider of
increasing skills shortages. aged care nursing training was sourced,” says Smith. “There
were a number of full-time students who enrolled in the
Gwydir Shire CounCil course, as well as some people who were a little older. With
around 45-50 graduates from this program, all completing
FoSTERING oNGoING LEARNING a Certificate 3 in Aged Care Nursing, we were able to fill
When Gwydir Shire Council was formed through the the gap in aged care providers in the local area.”
amalgamation of Yallaroi Shire and Bingara Shire and parts The program, of course, has had to overcome several
of Barraba Shire in March 2004, 71 percent of the council issues, mainly based around participants opting-out and
employees had no formal qualifications at all. This high integrating young people into an older workforce. To
proportion of unskilled employees was a direct reflection overcome these, Gwydir Council ensures it maintains a
of the skills shortage throughout the entire Gwydir Shire. close relationship with local schools, meeting regularly with
Through a well-designed training program, this statistic traineeship coordinators to identify and establish methods
has been lowered to 7 percent and, in August 2008, to sort out any problems.
Gwydir Shire Council signed up its 100th trainee since the
amalgamation. “With any program of this kind there will always be
challenges to overcome,” says Smith. “However, the
The driving force behind this massive increase in skilled commitment and enthusiasm of the people who want
workers throughout the Shire is the Gwydir Learning to make the program work helps to overcome these
Program (GLP). Formed to tackle the skills shortages, challenges. The achievements of the program are testament
the GLP commenced in 2000 and is a training program to the hard work of those involved and we are already
developed specifically for the needs of the local area. The reaping the benefits to the local community.”.”
GLP encompasses the training and development needs
COuNCIL IN PROFILE
moree plainS Shire CounCil their qualifications. Council increasingly requires more
qualifications for higher positions which further drives
ATTRACTING THE BEST the demand for upskilling amongst staff in order to gain
Despite recession-related job shortages, Moree Shire Council
is in an unusual position of having quality jobs available, “In addition this has had positive intergeneration effects
but an inability to attract and employ skilled people. This where for example outdoor employees have gained computer
problem is causing council, and many other local businesses literacy via their studies and now welcome technology into
that would otherwise flourish, to limit their growth potential. their own homes where once they feared it.”
However, the problem is gradually being overcome through
a major drive for Moree residents of all ages to participate in “Aside from raising the standard of skills levels and
traineeship or apprenticeship programs. qualifications within Moree Council, there are also more
and more people interested in working for council, because
Using government funded traineeship grants, Moree they know that they will be trained and develop their
Council has become a success story for local businesses and skills further when working for us. In addition, use of
other councils facing skills shortage problems. At no cost traineeships has been a great way to enable the engagement
to local ratepayers, over 50% of the council workforce have of early school leavers. Aboriginal youth for example
completed a level of traineeship since 2002; establishing a are over-represented in this group. Internal training and
quality control mechanism and requiring the majority of development provides upward movement throughout
staff members to hold at least a Certificate 3 qualification. Council ranks. Income wise Moree Council has been able
to secure income from sources such large RTA contracts”.
Moree Council’s Human Resource Manager, Debby Baxter-
Tomkins believes the benefits to Moree Council as an President of the Shires Association Cr Bruce Miller said
employer are endless. “By using the government funded that building the quantity and quality of skills in rural and
programs, we have developed people to a Certificate 3 isolated communities was a vital step in helping to build
or 4 level and we have opened the doors for more skilled their local economy.
employees to be working for council,” she says.
“Both Moree and Gwydir Shire Councils have gone onto
“In addition to our new entry and existing work the front foot to make sure that they have identified areas
traineeships we also run school-based traineeships in areas of skills shortages and put training programs in place to
where we predict there will be needs for skilled workers prevent long term shortages of skilled workers,” he said.
in the future. For example the Moree day care centre was
previously operating at a loss, and struggling to provide “The benefits of these programs will be seen for many years
skilled child care workers. However, thanks to the council to come.”
run traineeship and develop programs to increase the For more information about apprenticeships, traineeships
number of skilled child care workers, the centre is now and incentives that councils and businesses may attract,
profitable and has a waiting list!” contact Australian Business Limited Apprenticeships
To drive interest amongst the Moree youth about careers Centre on 1300 652 236, email@example.com or visit
in Local Government, Moree Council work closely with www.ablac.com.au.
local schools, creating interest and knowledge about the You could also investigate the Australian Government
types of careers available. Initiatives such as linking the apprenticeships program at
council’s online careers information details with school www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au or the DET NSW
homepages, operating a ‘youth council’ and inviting year Guide to Apprenticeships and Traineeships in NSW at
8 students to visit council for a day annually, have fuelled www.apprenticeship.det.nsw.edu.au.
the transition of younger Moree residents from school into
council-based careers. The LGSA works with rural councils to help them
with their recruitment and employment needs. LGSA
A constant witness to the traineeship success stories, Employment Solutions provides expert advice and services
Baxter-Tomkins has seen many people strive to increase to help councils recruit and performance manage their
their skills and qualifications even further after completing senior staff. The service, which is designed with Local
their first traineeship. Government specifically in mind, also provides products to
“Many people who thought they would never hold any help councils with remuneration surveys, climate surveys
qualifications are so impressed with the training and their and organisation reviews.”
new qualifications that they don’t want to stop at just
one. There are clear reasons for council staff to add to
For more information on Local Government Employment Solutions go to www.lgsa.org.au/employment.
LGSA CuLTuRAL AWARDS
Creative council PRoJECtS shine
Seventeen councils were recognised for their commitment to
arts and culture at the 2009 Local Government Cultural Awards ceremony.
Winning projects this year included a stained glass window Further winners are as follows:
mural capturing Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, a book
detailing the personal experiences of migrants, a series of
In partnership with Accessible Arts NSW this award
tapestry panels, and a theatrical performance dealing with
recognises cultural activity for people with a disability.
the 2005 Cronulla Riots.
WINNER Great Lakes Council:
The annual awards, organised by LGSA and sponsored by Can Do Performance Group: Peregrine
Country Energy, promote and showcase cultural activities Peregrine, a contemporary piece of theatre exploring
and projects developed by councils during the year. notions of individuality, group mentality and personal
treasures was performed to celebrate International Day of
Most award categories are divided into three divisions based
People with Disability. Set in a 1946 train station this non-
on a council’s population: Division A (less than 20,000);
narrative play tightly follows a sound score consisting of a
B (between 20,000 and 60,000); and C (over 60,000).
mix of 1940s, contemporary music and sound effects.
This year the People’s Choice Award increased in
The Brendan Hartnett Award
popularity, with Urana Shire Council taking out the award
Recognising distinguished efforts fostering and furthering
for a Madame Butterfly in Morundah.
community cultural development by an employee of Local
The performance by Oz Opera of “Puccini’s” Madame Government.
Butterfly at the Paradise Palladium Theatre was incredibly WINNER Parramatta City Council: Andrew Overton
popular with their local community, who flooded the Andrew is a longstanding arts and cultural advocate for
cultural awards web site with votes in the lead up to the Parramatta and has been responsible for the development
Awards night. and implementation of major policy, using a whole-of-
council approach. His influential work has encompassed a
variety of roles across arts programming and management,
including strategy development, direct facility
management, community cultural development initiatives
and cultural planning.
Aboriginal Cultural Development
Recognising cultural planning processes and initiatives
demonstrating Aboriginal control and participation and
resulting in long term benefits for Aboriginal arts.
WINNER Division A – Cootamundra Shire Council:
Wiradjuri Windows The project involved various artists
who designed stained glass windows based on Ngarradan,
the original dreamtime creation story of Cootamundra. The
windows have been installed in the Cootamundra Town Hall
and were officially launched in November 2008.
WINNER Division B – Wollondilly Shire Council:
Wollondilly Australia Day 2009: Aboriginal Welcome
to Our Land For their 2009 Australia Day celebrations,
the Wollondilly Aboriginal Advisory Committee held a
traditional ceremonial performance, and created a traditional
Held over two nights in the pupose built Paradise ceremonial meeting circle from the natural resources of the
Palladium Theatre, with over 700 people attending, the land – sand and ochres.
opera brought high class arts and culture to rural NSW. WINNER Division C – Newcastle City Council: Past
The project involved community members ranging from 5 Present Future 5 This Aboriginal youth arts program was
years old to 75. Evolving over the past three years the event held in partnership with the local Aboriginal community and
has brought economic and social changes to the village of featured Aboriginal heritage site visits and cultural camps,
Morundah, ensuring its sustainability and even effecting as well as a strong workshop and presentation program in
improvements to village infrastructure. music, visual arts and traditional Aboriginal art forms.
LGSA CuLTuRAL AWARDS
AWARdS night HIGHLy COMMENDED Division C – Hurstville City
For a cultural facility that meets community cultural needs Council: Hurstville City Library, Museum and Gallery:
and represents local cultural identity in design elements. Celebrating Diversity Hurstville City Library, Museum
WINNER Division A – Cootamundra Shire Council: and Gallery collaborated on a strategic program of
Artist Playing Field – An Exhibition and Performing inspiring events, innovative exhibitions, and technological
Arts Rehearsal Space – Cootamundra Arts Centre tools to engage their diverse communities.
From derelict to fully functional, the Cootamundra Arts
Programs Projects and Partnerships
Centre has added an Exhibition and Performing Arts
For councils who show Leadership in developing,
Rehearsal Space, associated reception, office and catering
undertaking or commissioning cultural programs, projects
and partnerships addressing community needs and helping
WINNER Division B – Queanbeyan City Council: ‘The
express community identity.
Q’: Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre
WINNER Division A – Oberon Council: Oberon
The Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre boasts a
Terazzo Tapestries This project captured the imagination
magnificent foyer, comfortably holding over 350 people and
of both young and older members of the Oberon
leads into ‘The Q’ Theatre and Exhibition Spaces, bar, cafe
community as they came together and created the eight
and lounge areas.
Terrazzo panels to lay in the rotunda at the Oberon
WINNER Division C – Hawkesbury City Council:
Hawkesbury Regional Museum The Museum is situated
WINNER Division B – Ashfield Municipal Council:
on one of the oldest land grants in Australia, and its
Ashfield youth Centre The Ashfield Youth Theatre is for
completion this year is the continuation of a process
young people to get involved in productions, develop new
which began in 1956, with the formation of Hawkesbury
skills and enjoy hanging with other like-minded creative
Integrated Cultural Policy Implementation WINNER Division C – Bankstown City Council:
Awarded to councils for developing, implementing and Stories of Love and Hate This theatrical production
evaluating strategic cultural planning. reveals the lives and loves of people directly affected by the
WINNER Division B – Camden Council: Camden’s 2005 Cronulla riots and was created in partnership with
Cultural Plan 2008-2013: ‘Cultivating Creativity in Bankstown City Council, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and
Camden’ This comprehensive yet straightforward plan Arts Centre and Sutherland Shire Council.
was prepared in consultation with the community for the WINNER Division C – Hurstville City Council: Lost
cultural wellbeing and growth of the Camden Community. Toy Story This multi-media interactive arts festival was
WINNER Division C – Penrith City Council: Creative held in the Hurstville CBD and explored real stories of
Community Engagement in Kingswood Park lost toys, hopes, friends and fears across generations and
Penrith has collaborated with local residents, artists and cultures.
local service providers in the renewal of Kingswood Park, HIGHLy COMMENDED Division C – Blacktown City
an established neighbourhood identified as experiencing Council: Bent Western This exhibition surveyed the work
relative social disadvantage. of homosexual Australian artists who made important
contributions to gay cultures in the Western Sydney region
Library and Information Services
and beyond. It acknowledged how Western Sydney is
Leadership by a local or regional public library in any of the
marked by broader notions of multicultural difference
following areas: exemplary co-operation and networking,
strategic planning, management or cultural programming.
HIGHLy COMMENDED Division B – Kogarah
For full details about council projects, please visit the 2009
Shire Council: Connecting Community and Culture:
Cultural Awards website, www.2009culturalawards.lgsa.org.au
Libraries in Action The project connected people
from different age groups, socio-economic and cultural
backgrounds through planned community and cultural
events, workshops and exhibitions.
WINNER Division C – Randwick City Council:
A Migrant’s Story This project provided a unique
opportunity for children and older migrants to interact,
form lasting relationships and experience life from
another’s point of view.
Derrick Hines (left) with Bruce Miller,
President of the Shires Association of NSW.
Both these locals
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