Discussing smart cities, recycling and affordable housing

Discussing smart cities, recycling and affordable housing

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra, which brings together more than 850 Mayors and councillors each year. I believe attendance was the highest that this event has ever attracted and it provided an opportunity to talk directly with Federal Government, to develop national policy and to influence the future direction of our councils and our communities.

There were a number of highlights for me including hearing from the keynote speaker Bernard Salt, who presented lots of interesting demographics and ideas for building cities. I was very proud to hear Maitland mentioned, as he spoke about our positive growth as the fastest growing non metro region in NSW.

I particularly enjoyed engaging with other Mayors and councillors from across the country as we discussed similar emerging issues that we face in Local Government, including affordable housing, innovation and digital transformation, and financial sustainability. These issues in particular are a focus for Maitland City Council and a driver for our Delivery Program 2018-2021, which includes objectives to pursue smart city principles of innovation and technology, and deliver more affordable housing through partnerships with developers and key stakeholders.

There was also lots of discussion on the current recycling situation, emphasising the need for a circular economy and local procurement. This means looking at the bigger picture of recycling and reusing our waste right here in Australia, rather than dumping or exporting it. As expressed in a motion by Logan City Council, ‘It is not enough that products we purchase in Australia are capable of being recycled, we need to ensure that they are also made from recycled material’. Waste management is an issue for all levels of government, and we need leadership to facilitate collaboration and investigate efficient and long term sustainable solutions for this issue.

"It is not enough that products we purchase in Australia are capable of being recycled, we need to ensure that they are also made from recycled material".
Logan City Council ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Finally of note, I was very pleased to see motions for constitutional recognition for local government and our indigenous peoples. The Australian Constitution is the highest legal document that can be used to grant parliamentary powers and has supreme legal authority within our legal system. This was a wonderful opportunity to discuss the acknowledgement of our third tier of government, but even more importantly, the histories, cultures and languages of Australia’s first peoples.

It was a privilege to attend the Assembly and it reinforced my belief that as a community and Council we are on the right path for an even brighter future for our beautiful city.​​