Off To Canberra!
MaryAnn and Zoë are zipping off to Canberra (in one of North Sydney Council’s EV’s) for the National General Assembly of Local Government! Attended by over 800 Mayors and Councillors from all over Australia, the event allows our elected representatives to engage directly with the Federal Government on policy development and the future of our councils and communities.
Below are the motions put forward and accepted for discussion by the NGA.
Motion: Royal Commission – Housing Affordability
THAT this National Assembly support and call for the establishment of a Royal Commission into housing affordability.
THAT the terms of reference include consideration of the impacts of historical low housing affordability on productivity, intergenerational equity, public health including mental health, educational opportunities and equity.
There is a crisis in housing affordability in Australia.
The Productivity Commission has indicated that the current housing crisis has pushed many Australians to poverty or homelessness, with a lack of social housing available and an explosion in rent prices.
In 2021, 45% of Australians receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) were spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. Housing stress is typically described as lower-income households that spend more than 30% of gross income on housing costs.
The data indicates that older Australians are the most vulnerable to the price spike in rents. Of those receiving CRA, almost one-third paid more than 30 per cent on rent.
In addition, social housing supply has lagged compared to population growth. Since 2012, the population has continued to grow at 13.2 per cent, but the supply of social housing has only grown by 4.5 per cent.
The causes of the crisis in affordability are complex and range across all levels of government: Federal, State and Local. For decades, the approach of many State governments has concentrated on increasing supply of private dwellings – it is clearly not working. Housing costs, whether in private ownership or rented, are at historical highs.
This cannot continue.
We call on the Federal Government to establish a Royal Commission into housing affordability to address to the immediate crisis as well as develop a plan to support social housing in Australia.
Motion: Aged Care Services
THAT this National Assembly seek to urgently establish a working group with the Federal Government to develop a framework for the delivery of aged care services, fully funded by the Federal Government and delivered by Local Government.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established on 8 October 2018.
In their Final Report dated 26 February 2021, the Royal Commissioners made 148 wide-ranging recommendations to drive fundamental reform of the aged care system. Many of the recommendations of the report involve the provision, support and delivery of aged care services across the country.
Whilst the Federal Government is responsible for funding aged care services, Local Government is the level of government closest to the community and is in the strongest position to deliver services on the ground in a timely manner. By working with local governments across Australia, the federal government can ensure their response to the Royal Commission is timely, targeted and community focussed.
Motion: Affordable Childcare
THAT this National Assembly seek to urgently establish a working group with the Federal Government to deliver local, affordable childcare in local communities, fully funded by the Federal Government and delivered on the ground by Local Government.
In 2021, the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University released a report titled: “Counting the cost to families: Assessing childcare affordability in Australia”. The report modelled the Federal Government’s $1.7 billion changes to the childcare subsidy, which are due to take effect in July this year and found that childcare will still be unaffordable for 336,000 (34%) of Australian families who use the childcare system.
The report found that one in three families are spending more on childcare than groceries to feed their family and 85% of families are spending more on childcare than on their utility bills.
The report uses an international benchmark of no more than 7% of disposable income spent on childcare to determine childcare affordability for families.
Whilst the Federal Government is responsible for funding childcare, Local Government is the level of government closest to the community and is in the strongest position to deliver services on the ground in a timely manner. By working with local governments across Australia, the federal government can develop and community led and delivered child care program which meets the needs of Australian families and households.
Motion: Climate Change, Urban Tree Canopy and protection of biodiversity and habitat
THAT this National Assembly call for a partnership with the Federal Government to address, protect and increase tree canopy, particularly urban tree canopy and forest, to minimise the impacts of climate change and to protect biodiversity and habitat.
Urban tree canopy is a form of green infrastructure providing shade, which reduces ambient temperatures and mitigates the heat island effect
According to a recent RMIT report, more than half of Sydney’s councils have lost urban forest cover since 2013. The loss of urban forest cover is consistent across the country. The decline in tree canopy has been attributed to development pressures, poor planning and a failure to value trees.
Protecting and increasing tree canopy has multiple benefits which include reducing summer peak temperatures and air pollution, providing wildlife corridors and habitat, protecting and enhancing biodiversity, providing visual relief and aesthetic benefits, and improving community well-being.
Whilst many councils in NSW and across Australia have developed urban greening strategies, local communities cannot do it alone. By working in partnership with local councils, the Federal Government will be able to move more quickly and effectively to develop and deliver initiatives to address to impacts of climate change and the increasing urban heat island effect which are being felt across the country.
Motion: Sustainable Waste and Recycling Practices
THAT this National Assembly calls upon the Federal Government to urgently step in to address the structural issues with waste and recycling as a result of the China Sword and in order to promote and delivered a circular and sustainable waste practices.
On 1 January 2018, China implemented its National Sword Policy which restricted the importation of 24 categories of solid waste and limits contamination of those materials to less than 0.5 per cent. These restrictions have impacted the waste sector with stockpiling of waste as waste collectors across the country try to find new markets.
The flow on effects of these imposed limits have resulted in the waste sector having to both restrict waste collections, stockpile waste and increase prices. These changes are not sustainable nor do they address the underlying issue that Australia is producing too much waste, especially to landfill.
What is needed is a national response to address to the underlying structural issues with waste and recycling including reform of current practices and policies relating to waste disposal, recycling and sustainable waste management.
As the level of government responsible for waste services within the community, we call on the Federal Government to work with Local Government to develop a national Waste Management Framework.