Policy Perspective - July 2017

Leading with local government

How can we help local governments across Australia plan and deliver more productive, liveable, sustainable and healthy communities?

This is the mission we wish to tackle as we launched the Green Star – Communities Guide for Local Government at the recent Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly - with every Mayor, Chief Executive and Councillor in attendance walking away with a copy of the Guide.

The Guide explains how councils can use the five principles underpinning the Green Star – Communities rating tool to help tackle their local challenges, deliver and communicate better outcomes for their constituents, and multiply the value of their investments. Additionally the Guide provides a pathway through which local governments can use Green Star – Communities certification to demonstrate best practice, showcase Australian excellence, or even deliver world leadership through their built environments.

City of Gosnells delivering world leadership

City of Gosnells in Western Australia has set the bar for global leadership among Australia’s network of 43 local governments.

The City recently achieved 6 Star Green Star – As Built certification for the Mills Park Centre. The facility features a new community hall and function centre for 300 people, commercial kitchen and café, meeting rooms and activity spaces, an indoor play space for children’s parties, a clubroom and changing rooms for sporting groups, as well as office space for staff.

Incorporating a range of outdoor recreation areas, Mills Park will connect local residents, protect the environment and engage the community for decades to come.

No time for politicking

The release of the Finkel Review breaks a decade of policy uncertainty and the hope of an end to energy policy football.

The recommendations demand bipartisan support outlining the considerable opportunities for the Australian Government to work collaboratively with industry to deliver affordability, resilience, and security while still meeting our international commitments and helping ensure a more sustainable future – read our media release welcoming the Report.

Notably, the Finkel Review highlights the importance of increasing energy efficiency and productivity across the economy. Australia’s built environment has a significant role to play in delivering that increased efficiency and we look forward to working across governments to realise that potential.

In many respects the Finkel Report can be seen as the First Act in the delivery of climate change policy, with the Government now considering submissions into their broader Review of Australia’s Climate Change Policies. Our submission outlined the numerous ways in which the GBCA, its members and the wider property and construction industry can help to achieve Australia’s emissions reduction targets, support low emissions innovations and deliver transformation across the industry. Due to report at the end of the year, in parallel with the Government and Opposition’s response to Finkel, both stand to set the agenda in the lead up to the next Federal Election.

Sustainable schools in the spotlight

In April, the NSW Government announced Education Infrastructure NSW, a new delivery unit that will oversee the planning, supply, and maintenance of NSW schools. Over the next 15 years NSW Government schools are predicted to grow by 21 per cent, or an additional 164,000 students.

The State Government announced in the recent budget that it will spend $4.2 billion over the forward estimates on the building program, which it estimates will create 32,000 more student places and 1,500 new classrooms. The incorporation of sustainable design principles have been identified as a key focus for these investments.

With the Queensland Government also committing new funds to school upgrades and construction in their June Budget, we are working across the states advocating that all new schools and refurbishments are designed and constructed to meet the highest sustainability benchmarks.

Williamstown High School in Victoria is just one Green Star education example. The project demonstrates that green schools can be good for the environment and the bank balance – and good for students too.

Our vision for the future of Australian education is one in which all students and teachers have access to sustainable places for learning, and all students and teachers can reap the benefits of happier and healthier education facilities.