By: Darlene Irvine, Executive Officer...
What an awesome six weeks we have had! This month's newsletter has come late for a couple of reasons – the main one was to find out the results of the LGMA Rural Management Challenge. Well done to Cyclonic 4orce from Cassowary Coast Regional Council for taking the win and Cairns Regional Council's Bright Knights for placing second!
This year I entered FNQROC - Sandra, Travis, Steve and Amanda - into the challenge, to their somewhat dismay and apprehension! Only one of us has ever worked within a council before and I saw this as an opportunity for us all to walk in a council officer's shoes. The learnings we took from this was that when the pressure was on even we didn't consider collaborating with other teams even though we were all doing the same task – at a rural event this would have been allowed.
I am proud to announce FNQROC placed third out of seven teams and not surprisingly we received many comments about how we considered the tasks differently to the other teams (this is clearly evident in Task 0).
From left - the FNQROC team the night before the storm; working away feverously; and celebrating - thank goodness it's over!
From left (in pairs) - Cassowary Coast Regional Council (the overall winner), Douglas Shire Council and Cairns Regional Council.
A lot has been covered over the past month or so:
- Melbourne Cup!
- Release of the amended Regional Development Manual for council adoption.
- Ergon Energy Streetlight Strategy technical roadshow (I attended this in Townsville as I was down that way and committed on the Friday for the Cairns meeting).
- Ergon Energy meeting regarding its distribution reset submission.
- Australian Energy Regulator public forum with a critique of Ergon Energy's submission by the Consumer Challenge Panel – very interesting and helps to build our submission which is due end of January.
- Commenced discussions with the Mountain Biking Clubs for the Regional Mountain Biking Strategy – due to heavy workloads I have not been able to attend all of these with the consultants but the meetings I did attend were very encouraging – there is a lot of positivity out there.
- I spent a couple of awesome days in Ingham as part of Hinchinbrook Shire Council's planning scheme development (I have included below a photograph of the Tyto wetlands....just beautiful!).
- We have worked with Advance Cairns and FNQ&TS RDA to promote the 8 infrastructure and 8 policy priorities for the region ahead of the State elections.
- We've had the Local Government Economic Development Meeting as well as our normal swag of technical committee meetings
- Minister Crisafulli's Round table – I have requested a copy of the presentations which focussed heavily on Asset Management. I am pleased to say the work of the technical committee is in line with what was being promoted.
- Another roundtable with the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee on the Planning and Development Bill.
- An FNQROC Board meeting – the minutes will be released shortly.
- And of course, working hard on the Rural Management Challenge.
There is a lot here to expand on but it's Christmas time, so if anyone would like to discuss them further – please do not hesitate to contact me.
On the grapevine....we say farewell to Leanne Mash (CEO Hinchinbrook Shire Council) who is heading to NZ in January. All the very best Leanne – I've enjoyed the positivity you have bought to the region! We also say farewell again to Gerard Read...well sort of...he will remain as the project coordinator for the bitumen reseal program but Steve will be taking over the FNQRRTG – big shoes to fill Steve!!!
As a final note – I wish everyone a safe, relaxing, refreshing Christmas with a new start to 2015!
By: Regional Roads Group coordinator, Gerard Read...
November was a reasonably busy month for the FNQRRTG as always. The countdown to Christmas begins and the temperature gauge starts to rise. External factors at this time of year can lead to increased chaos, frustration and tension in the workplace. Factors such as those listed below can weigh heavily on people:
• meeting the Christmas deadline – often very ambitious, if not impossible;
• uncomfortable heat and weather;
• the second half of the year is generally devoid of mini-breaks compared to the first half of the year which has regular public holiday long weekends; and
• getting organized for Christmas and the associated emotional and financial stresses.
The Technical Committee met on Friday 28 November in Cairns and fortunately there were no outward signs of these factors having an influence on members (apart from maybe myself!?).
All members were represented with the exception of Wujal Wujal and a reasonably long agenda was worked through positively.
Progress this year is very good and claiming reimbursement of expenditure has improved markedly. The current claimed expenditure level is at 43% however this should rise to 75-80% by Christmas. The program was 20% completed at the end of October on a state wide basis.
Of the 10 projects scheduled, three are completed, six are in progress and one has not started. Five of the six currently in progress are expected to be completed by Christmas and the sixth is an outside chance as well. The project which has not commenced has been legitimately rescheduled to the last quarter of 2014/15. One 2015/16 project has actually been completed as well!
This will be my last newsletter contribution as the FNQRRTG will be transferred to the more-than-capable hands of my good friend Steve Cosatto from 1 January 2015. I would like to sincerely thank the FNQROC crew, elected members and staff of our member Councils for your assistance and valued input over the last 7 years or so. It has been enjoyable. I think this is the third time I have written words to this effect, so you should now be used to them!
I will still be poking around in my role with the Joint Reseal Project, and of course to informally help Steve should he need it (which I doubt). Have a very merry and safe Christmas and a happy, prosperous 2015.
Click READ MORE for further road group topics, such as 14/15 TIDS, 15/16-17/18 Works Program, Fatigue Management, First & Last Mile, ATSI Councils, and Alliance Operational Review.Read More
By: Regional Infrastructure Projects Coordinator, Steven Cosatto...
I am pleased to advise that FNQROC through the FNQRRTG has secured 50% funding ($25,600) for 15 staff from member Councils to undertake the Diploma of Local Government Administration (Asset Management) course offered by LGAQ. In general, the course will improve the skills of Council staff in all aspects of asset management and provide a recognised qualification for their efforts.
The course specifically has a Local Government focus on providing attendees with the ability to provide councils with improved:
• Decision making about its infrastructure;
• Asset Management Plans and consequent long-term financial plans;
• Risk management processes and reduced exposure for councils;
• Maintenance and capital works prioritisation.
The course will require 8 full contact days over a 3 month period (likely in Cairns), specific dates to be advised. There is significant cost and time benefit to Councils by holding the course in the region.
March 2015 (3 days) - dates TBA
Early May (3 days) - dates TBA
Mid June (2 days) - dates TBA
In additional training news, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) has requested FNQROC to ascertain interest on their behalf for the potential for two one-day workshops in Far North Queensland:
• Levels of Service based on new IPWEA Practice Note 8 - last week February or first week of March 2015 for additional information http://www.ipwea.org/LoSPN8.
The cost would be $660 including GST per participant, with a minimum of 20 participants required.
Date Claimer: Regional Asset Management Group meeting Friday 13 February 2015.
The final Regional Waste meeting for the year on Friday 5 December 2014 at Mareeba Shire Council will provide an opportunity to review the progress we have made as group in 2014, such as:
• Group expansion – inclusion of State Government representatives;
• Benchmarking of assets, arrangements (contracts) and strategic plans;
• Collective scrap metal invitation market, (involving nine member councils) including a separable portion for used lead acid batteries;
• Tour of Cairns Regional Council's Material Recycling Facilities operations;
• Tour of Remondis facilities at Springmount;
• Tour of Mareeba Transfer Station.
Following the review we will be in a position to initiate an analysis of member Councils' strategies, plans and direction for 2015 with the aim of identifying parallels between Councils, or gaps where collaboration or resource sharing can occur. I believe there are significant financial and sustainability outcomes to be achieved by participating in the planning for a regional approach towards effective and efficient waste management services, i.e. in such areas as:
• asset management and planning;
• operational efficiency;
• service delivery;
• revenue generation.
By: Regional Procurement Coordinator, Amanda Hancock...
The regional tender for the Collection & Removal of Ferrous Metal and/or ULABs closed on 18 November and I am pleased to confirm we received a number of responses. The Tender Evaluation Committee is now in the process of evaluating the tenders and is on track to deliver individual council recommendation reports in early 2015.
Work continues to progress at a steady rate with the region's contractor making the most of the extended dry weather throughout November.
We were pleased to welcome representatives from MacDonnells Law to our quarterly Regional Procurement Committee meeting on 28 November to deliver a presentation covering intellectual property and business risks. Local Buy also was in attendance and provided an update on its recent Civil Construction and Road Resurfacing Arrangement Register of Pre-Qualified Suppliers which was advertised in mid-November. For those who may not be aware:
The panel of pre-qualified suppliers has been established for a 1+1+1 year period for the following services:
Supply of Road & Civil Construction and Associated Maintenance Services, including:
• Tier 1 – Austroads/Transport and Main Road (TMR) Prequalified Contractors
• Tier 2 – Non Prequalified Contractors
Road Resurfacing and Supply, Cart, Spray/Lay of Bitumen and Asphalt, including:
• Tier 1 – Current TMR Prequalified Contractors and Certified Sprayers
• Tier 2 – Non Prequalified Contractors
To become registered, suppliers will have to agree to established contracts (including AS2124, AS4000, AS4902, Medium and Low Risk Minor Works).
The arrangement is variable and allows councils to retain control of project specifications, nominate sub-contractors (including council crews and local companies), obtain pricing to support works programs, or simply obtain bitumen products.
Another matter discussed in the Procurement Committee meeting was the expiry of the Procurement Memorandum of Agreement and the need for it to be updated to reflect the evolving role of FNQROC Procurement. It was also considered beneficial for committee members to share and discuss individual Council procurement plans for the forthcoming year which could then be used in the development of a shared strategic and operational plan for the Procurement Committee for 2015 and beyond.
A workshop will be arranged in early 2015 in order to progress both these items.
And finally, as this is our last newsletter before the big day I would just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and restful Christmas break and I look forward to working with you again in the New Year.
By: Natural Asset Management Coordinator, Travis Sydes...
A stitch in time saves nine and other wisdoms around the benefit of early intervention and prevention are well established in our day to day business and we use it as guiding principle in anything from healthcare to asset management. In a pest management context we are guided by the same principles under the guise of eradication or prevention programs but they often prove to be fairly hard to live up to. Prevention is easy enough to describe and for most people to visualise but the term eradication is often misunderstood. Derived from the Latin "radix" which means to "root"; it describes the classic act of making something dead, by removing it roots and all. In a pest management context the term is used in more of a population context than the biblical, crop-weeding context of its namesake. As a pest management objective it is deployed in a predefined area (e.g. – your backyard, your LG area, Our State, Our Country etc.) It is important to set the boundaries in which you operate otherwise you may end up chasing your own tail, or wasting a lot of energy and resources and not achieving much. By the definition of the Far North's own scholars in this space (John Clarkson and Tony Grice) "Eradication is a deliberate action taken to remove all individuals of a species including all propagules in the soil seed bank from within a predefined area". In short, knocking off (rooting out) some plants, ants or whatever pest it is you're targeting does not equate to eradication unless you are also 'rooting' out all the seeds, eggs and means it has to reproduce and come back. Simply put, not just dead, but dead and gone (and gone for good).
The Wet Tropics is currently host to two significantly resourced eradication programs, both of which local government contribute to and benefit from. The WTMA Yellow Crazy Ant (YCA) project has the objective of eradicating YCA from the Wet Tropics; the National Four Tropical Weeds Program is tasked with removing a small group of weeds from the entire country. In the current economic environment it is more important than ever for councils to demonstrate their support for the investment in the region these programs provide and understand the outcomes they seek to deliver. Also in the mix are a series of local and regional eradication projects led by local governments and guided by Local Area Pest Management Plans in collaboration with partners such as Parks and Wildlife and NRM which are quietly chipping away at small problems that stand to become major issues if not taken out early in the piece.
The Wet Tropics Management Authority's Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program Coordinator, Lucy Karger says the program has shown positive results so far. The western boundary of the YCA infestation was mapped by the NAMAC Taskforce in April 2014 helping us to complete the infestation area boundary. 2014 was the first of three years of treatment to the 760ha infestation. Aerial treatments were conducted in May, August and November. The Operations Crew is under the direction of Gareth Humphreys, who was appointed based on his experience with the Biosecurity Queensland National Electric Ant Eradication Program (NEAEP). Preliminary results to date have shown a decrease in yellow crazy ant numbers after treatment, but the results vary. Synchronising aerial treatments with residential area treatments is very difficult and that is the biggest challenge. Farmers, residents, representatives from the sugar industry, Local Government and State Government agencies have all lent a hand to forge ahead - many of which are represented at meetings through the YCA Reference Group, including FNQROC. Next year local government again will assist the program with a follow-up taskforce operation planned for April-May.
YCA are slow to spread by natural means but can hitch-hike on contaminated pots plants, outdoor furniture, machinery, building materials or green waste (anything that sits around outside they can build a nest in). As we come into cyclone season it is important that we remain vigilant and keep an eye out in risk areas.
For more information on YCA go to http://wettropics.gov.au/stamp-out-yellow-crazy-ants.html
New full-time Community Engagement Officer, Kim Badcock, has been busy raising awareness of the Program and the pests it targets since joining Biosecurity Queensland in August. He has presented displays at field days expos and markets including Carnival on Collins (Cairns), Tablelands Garden Expo, Malanda Small Farms Field Day, Mission Beach Rotary Monster Market.
Click READ MORE for more information on the National Four Tropical Weeds Eradication Program, and an update regarding 1080 Baiting.Read More
Cairns Regional Council has opened its latest grant round for Developmental and Major Event Grant streams.
Planning an exciting event that will also attract visitors to Cairns?
Council's Developmental and Major Event Grant streams offer funding to help diversify our region's sporting, cultural and lifestyle event calendar.
Eligible events will have strong community support, promote Cairns as a destination and attract visitors to our region.
Grant applications can be submitted from 10 November 2014 to 16 January 2015, for events to be held between July 2015 and December 2016.
To find out more, visit www.cairns.qld.gov.au/grants or phone Council's Regional Events Development Officer on 4044 3520. Email enquiries should be directed to
See summary guidelines: