Local Government – LGAT Budget Requests

Mrs. O’CONNOR – Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Minister, I’m sure you’re aware of the Local Government Association’s statement of budget priorities. In this statement of budget priorities, LGAT requested $50,000 to hire a project officer to engage councils and other stakeholders to incorporate stormwater improvements into new developments. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme does not yet have a stormwater code, or equivalent, to manage quality or quantity. Essentially, the local government sector is trying to fill a critical void in the city plan and is only asking for $50,000 to be able to do so. Do you have an explanation for LGAT as to why you did not provide this very small amount of money, for a potentially very large gain?

Mr STREET – I am unaware of LGAT’s community budget submission, simply because of when I entered the portfolio; but I understand that these questions were also posed to the Minister of Planning during his hearing on the Estimates. I’m more than happy to pass on to Mr. Limkin regarding the submission itself, if he has anything to add; but I have nothing further to add regarding the request.

Mrs. O’CONNOR – I’m a little surprised you haven’t read the LGAT brief, given that you’ve been a minister for six weeks. but I’ll leave that on the record.

Mr LIMPKIN – The budget submissions were reviewed by the former Minister of Local Government and he made decisions on what he was going to take forward within this framework. With regard to stormwater in planning, last night Mr Ferguson, as Minister of Planning, made a commitment that this would be part of the review that we were going to look at, under the Tasmanian Planning Policy Consultation. We will do so in the time to come.

Mrs. O’CONNOR – Minister, it’s not about you, it’s actually about your predecessor, but none of the LGAT budget priorities were funded in this year’s budget. I hear your assertion of the importance of local government and the sector in general, but the government response to local government and LGAT has been really poor.

Are there any new initiatives for local government in this budget; and can I get a commitment from you on behalf of LGAT, that the next time they bother to put together a budget priority statement, it will be given due consideration, which your predecessor doesn’t seem to have given ?

Mr STREET – Mr. Healey just made me realize that we gave LGAT $35,000 for a pre-election campaign and $25,000 for a workplace bullying review in this budget.

Mrs. O’CONNOR – Previously funded.

Mr HEALEY – It was funded from the budget of the Office of Local Government and is currently ongoing.

Mr STREET – In terms of new initiatives, the increased allocation to the Office of Local Government is intended to support ongoing review work. I’m sure once we get out of this budget session and I start traveling around the state and meeting with the mayors and also the LGAT, they’ll bring up the fact that they have a list of priorities –

Mrs. O’CONNOR – They do.

Mr STREET – Which they want funding for. I can’t give you a funding commitment.

Mrs. O’CONNOR – No, I understand that.

Mr STREET – I can assure you that I will take into account their budget presentation, as I do for all the stakeholders who come under the four portfolios.

Mrs. O’CONNOR – May I ask you, as a final question in this group – LGAT has also asked for a commitment from the state government to work with local government and industry to develop a circular economy plan for Tasmania. The government you’re part of has talked a lot about a circular economy, and that’s where we need to get to. But we see every sign of the last budget’s circular economy initiative expiring. As Minister for Local Government, do you support LGAT’s request for the development of a circular economy plan for Tasmania, and would you be willing to speak to the Minister for the Environment?

Mr STREET – I am more than happy to speak to the Minister of the Environment.

Mrs. O’CONNOR – Do you think we need a plan for a circular economy?

Mr STREET – I attended a forum in Huon Valley with your colleague, Dr. Woodruff-

Mrs. O’CONNOR – My wonderful colleague, Dr. Woodruff.

Mr STREET – I leave the adjectives to you. Your colleague, Dr. Woodruff, Mr. Winter and Mr. O’Byrne. We attended a forum in the Huon Valley on the circular economy and its importance. We made a commitment, I believe, to come back and meet them again. I fully understand the importance of the circular economy. I understand the importance of having a plan for this too.

Mrs. O’CONNOR – Will you help revive this if this is the key to local government?

Mr STREET – If this is an LGAT priority – I missed that interjection, Mr. Winter.

Mr WINTER – I said, you are leading this process. You will talk to the leaders.

Mr STREET – I am more than happy to commit to having this conversation with the Minister of the Environment.