National General Assembly of Local Government

The National General Assembly of Local Government is scheduled for June. Mayors and Councillors from across the country will be meeting, and can call on the Federal Government to act.

I’ve put together some examples of motions that could result in effective changes. There may be a change of federal leadership before June, but motions can be amended.

Motions are due by the 25th March, and my understanding is they need to be agreed upon during a Council meeting in order to be submitted. Please email for information or to let me know a motion has been accepted!

Tax code:

  1. Notes that in many cases throughout our society, the tax system specifically rewards activities and purchases that are worse for public health, are more expensive for households, result in worse domestic energy security, and worsen climate change;
  2. Call on the Federal Government to change the taxation code to address this, including:
    • Support residential and commercial landlords to improve the health, comfort, and energy security of their tenants by changing the status of energy efficient, water efficient, and renewable appliances and structures so that they qualify for accelerated depreciation or extension of the Temporary Full Expensing Measures for Landlords for a period through to 2030;
    • Amend the taxation system such that when a landlord replaces an appliance that has poor air quality outcomes with a cleaner system (e.g. gas cooktop with induction cooktop, or a gas heater versus reverse cycle air conditioner), this is also captured through the Temporary Full Expensing Measures for Landlords rather than a capital expense that is to be depreciated over its effective useful life;
    • Increase the effective useful lives for those appliances that actively contribute to poor indoor air quality and worsened health outcomes such that the depreciation claim will be smaller in each year;
    • Factoring in the weight and energy source of a vehicle when deciding the allowable depreciation, in recognition that the damage done to roads is proportional to the fourth power of the weight, and thus increases rapidly for heavier vehicles (using a different scale for electric vehicles);
    • In order to improve public health due to air pollution and lack of physical activity, phase in changes to the way that motor vehicle expenses can be deducted to encourage the uptake of bicycles, e-bikes, and electric cargo bikes for commuting and business purposes, and in those cases where cars or other motor vehicles are required, make changes to ensure that electric vehicles are favoured over petrol and diesel vehicles; and
  3. Call on the Federal Government to make these amendments to the relevant tax legislation to give effect to these measures as soon as possible.

For income tax purposes, the effective life over which hot water systems are depreciated differs depending on their energy source., at present electric and gas hot water systems have an effective life of 12 years, whereas solar hot water systems have an effective life of 15 years.  This does not encourage landlords to install the more energy efficient solar hot water systems.

Gas cooking in the home has been shown to contribute to 12% of childhood asthma in Australia. Induction cooktops are just as responsive, easy to clean, and create far less indoor air pollution, but they are expensive compared with simply installing a gas cooktop and can require new cables to be run. Landlords should be supported to make the best decisions for the health and wellbeing of their tenants.

The installation of rooftop solar panels contributes to local energy security, improved air quality, and lowers household bills.  However, landlords do not directly receive the benefit of the lower household energy bills and they are required to depreciate the solar panels over a period of 20 years (TR 2021/3).  In order to incentive landlords to install solar panels they should be included within the proposed Temporary Full Expensing Measures for Landlords or at the very least halve their effective useful life.

The current framework for income tax deductions for cars and other vehicles acts to increase private and commercial car and vehicle usage, increase congestion, increase wear and tear on local roads, and worsens public air quality and energy security. This should be altered to reflect the costs to society of these vehicles. 

Norway has the highest share per capita of EV sales in the world with a goal of having 100% of new car sales by 2025.  They have achieved this through a range of policies directed at the original purchase through waiving of import duty and initial registration costs as well as no GST on the acquisition.  They have also reduced ongoing operating costs through reduced road tolls and parking costs.  This has led to a considerable decrease in their transport sector GHG emissions.

Other possible motions:

  1. IPCC reports (afraid to say I haven’t had time to read this with work and children!)
  2. 2019/20 bushfires, floods
  3. Calls on the Federal Government to make funding available to Council staff to undertake further professional development in greenhouse gas emission mitigation, and climate adaptation, to give our communities the best chance at lowering emissions and keeping our communities safe as already locked-in changes to the climate occur; and 
  4. Calls on the Federal Government to make funding available to run Citizen’s Climate Assemblies to educate citizens on the causes and probable impacts of global warming, and to decide on local policies to reach net zero, and subsequently drawdown.

The Australian Local Government Alliance

  1. Notes that dependence on private motor vehicles for transport in our cities and some regional areas is expensive for residents, creates local air pollution (which harms the health of all members of our community) and climate pollution, is not independently accessible for young and some elderly residents, leads to congestion and difficulty parking, and that half of trips by car in Sydney (for example) are less than five kilometres, with 20% less than two kilometres;
  2. Notes that safe and connected bike infrastructure can also be used by people in mobility devices, and safe and separated bike lanes have been used in other countries to cut congestion for emergency services vehicles;
  3. Notes that Australia imports 90% of our petrol and diesel, and that our local reserves would only cover approximately three weeks of national consumption in the event of a disruption to imports;
  4. Notes that Transport for NSW estimates that with the right infrastructure, 70% of people would ride a bike for transport, but that these “interested but concerned” residents do not currently have access to safe bike routes; and therefore
  5. Calls on the Federal Government to support our children to walk and ride bikes to school by assisting the States and local governments with funding to provide either safe footpaths and pedestrian priority crossings on streets within 1.5 kilometres of schools, or safe 30 km/h speed limits for streets with no pedestrian priority or footpaths; 
  6. Calls on the Federal Government to support tourism in regional and rural areas through upgrades to rail trails and bike infrastructure, and by working with the States and Territories to improve intra-and interstate public transport so that bikes can be easily taken on holidays;
  7. Calls on the Federal Government to provide direct support to all government employees, including local, state, and federal, to commute by bike or public transport, through changes to the taxation system or other means; 
  8. In light of the benefits to air quality and public health for our communities, calls on the Federal Government to increase the proportion of transport funding that is allocated to active and public transport, and decrease the proportion that is allocated to building infrastructure to facilitate use of private transport;
  9. Calls on the Federal Government to require that all new vehicle imports have speed limiters installed to protect our children and pedestrians (similar to the EU and UK in July 2022 – the EU Transport Safety Council expects this will reduce collisions by 30%), and that a phase-in program for retrofits to the existing fleet be investigated;
  10. Calls on the Federal Government to provide funding for Council staff in executive, planning, and transport roles to attend active transport design and implementation training, and to hire more transport planners and engineers for roles specifically aimed at making walking and riding a bike around our neighbourhoods a safe and sensible option for residents of all ages and abilities; and 
  11. Calls on the Federal Government to support our residents to purchase e-bikes and electric cargo bikes to replace private motor vehicles, to improve local air quality, and make space in our towns and cities, through for example changes to the taxation system to encourage uptake of electric bikes and electric cargo bikes for commuting and business purposes.

  1. Notes that Australia’s liquid fuels are mostly imported, and that in the event of a serious supply chain disruption, local supplies are only sufficient for up to three weeks of use;
  2. Notes that although Australians living in cities and some regional areas have the option to ride bikes or take public transport, many regional and rural people have no other option than driving a car;
  3. Notes that electric vehicles have far lower running costs than petrol and diesel vehicles; and
  4. Calls on the Federal Government to improve our national energy security, and help regional and rural Australians to get around without breaking the bank, by supporting them to buy, and charge, electric cars and utes