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Local Government – LGAT Budget Requests

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Tags: Local Government

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Chair. Minister, I'm sure you are aware of the Local Government Association's Budget priority statement. In that Budget priority statement, LGAT requested $50 000 to hire a project officer to engage councils and other stakeholders, to embed stormwater improvements into new developments. The Tasmanian Planning Scheme doesn't yet have a stormwater code, or equivalent, to manage quality or quantity. In essence, the local government sector is working to fill a critical void in the planning scheme and they are asking for just $50 000 to be able to do that. Do you have an explanation for LGAT as to why you did not provide that very small sum of money, for potentially very significant gain?

Mr STREET - I'm not aware of the community Budget submission from LGAT, simply because of the timing of when I came into the portfolio; but I understand that those questions were asked of the planning minister in his Estimates hearing as well. I am more than happy to pass to Mr Limkin regarding the actual submission, if he has anything further to add; but I have nothing further to add about the request.

Ms O'CONNOR - I'm a tiny bit surprised you have not read the LGAT submission, given you've been the minister for six weeks; but I will leave that on the record.

Mr LIMPKIN - The Budget submissions were considered by the previous Minister for Local Government and he made decisions on what he would take forward as part of that. In relation to the stormwater in planning, last night Mr Ferguson, as Minister for Planning, committed that was part of the review that we would be looking into, as part of the consultation on the Tasmanian planning policies. We will do that over the coming time.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, this is not on you, it's actually on your predecessor, but not one of LGATs budget priority asks was funded in this year's Budget. I hear your affirmation of the importance of local government and the sector broadly, but the Government's 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 next time they go to the trouble of preparing a Budget priority statement that it will be given due consideration, which it doesn't appear that your predecessor gave?

Mr STREET - Mr Healey's just making me aware of the fact that we've given LGAT $35 000 for a pre election campaign and $25 000 for a workplace bullying review in this Budget.

Ms O'CONNOR - Previously funded.

Mr HEALEY - It was provided out of the Office of Local Government's budget and is underway now.

Mr STREET - In terms of new initiatives, the increase in the allocation to the Office of Local Government is to support the work of the review that's going on. I am sure that, once we come out of this Budget session and I start to travel around the state and meet with mayors and also with LGAT, they will bring up the fact that they have a list of priorities -

Ms O'CONNOR - They do.

Mr STREET - That they want funding for. I can't give you a commitment about funding.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, I understand that.

Mr STREET - I can give you a commitment that I will take their budget submission into account, as I do every stakeholder that comes through all four portfolios.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I ask you, as my last question in this group - LGAT 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, which is where we do have to end up. But we see all the signs of the circular economy initiative from the last budget lapsing. As local government minister, do you support LGAT's request for the development of a circular economy plan for Tasmania, and would you be prepared to talk to the Minister for the Environment about this?

Mr STREET - I'm more than happy to talk to the Minister for the Environment.

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you think we need a plan for a circular economy?

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

Ms O'CONNOR - My marvellous colleague, Dr Woodruff.

Mr STREET - I'll leave the adjectives to you. Your colleague, Dr Woodruff, Mr Winter and Mr O'Byrne. We attended a forum in the Huon Valley about the circular economy and the importance of it. We've committed, I believe, to going back and meeting with them again. I absolutely understand the importance of the circular economy. I understand the importance of having a plan for it as well.

Ms O'CONNOR - Will you help to drive that again if it's key to local Government?

Mr STREET - If it is a priority of LGAT - I missed that interjection, Mr Winter.

Mr WINTER - I said, you are driving that process. You're going to talk to leaders.

Mr STREET - I am more than happy to commit to having that conversation with the Minister for the Environment.