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National News Australia

Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement: A new era for Australia-UK trade

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Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement: A new era for Australia-UK trade

Prime Ministers Albanese and Sunak met in London today and announced the long-awaited entry into force date of midnight 31 May 2023 for the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UK FTA), following the expected completion of UK domestic processes.

Prime Minister Albanese is in London to attend the Coronation of King Charles III, marking a significant week for both Australia’s head of state and new era for Australia-UK trade relations.

The A-UK FTA, which was agreed in principle in June 2021 and signed on 17 December 2021, will see Australian beef and sheepmeat/goat meat access to the UK liberalised over a transition period.

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“The FTA marks a new chapter in Australia-UK trade relations and, for our sector, provides an important framework to continue to do business with British customers and consumers,” said Andrew McDonald, chair of the Australia-UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce.

“Australia and the UK have a long history of trade with British consumers being loyal purchasers of Australian beef and sheepmeat.

“The FTA provides an opportunity to modernise our trading relationship for the future, and we look forward to more streamlined trade and reduced supply chain costs with the implementation of the agreement.”

From midnight 31 May, Australian beef and sheepmeat exports will enter the UK under a new tariff rate quota (TRQ) regime – with initial TRQ tonnages gradually increasing over a 10-year transition period. Product within the TRQ amounts will enter tariff free.

While there will be no TRQ regime post year 10, a volume safeguard provision will apply until the end of year 15, beyond which no safeguards will apply.

“We congratulate the Prime Ministers on finalising this significant milestone in Australia-UK relations and express our gratitude to all who have worked diligently to realise such an outcome,” Mr McDonald said.

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Armidale

Two charged with drug supply in Armidale – Strike Force Malebo

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Two charged with drug supply in Armidale – Strike Force Malebo

***PLEASE NOTE: NSW Police Force vision of arrests and photos are available via Hightail https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/kgDYeZY99N***

© State of NSW (NSW Police Force). For editorial use only. No sublicensing of any NSW Police Force supplied image or footage allowed on a standalone basis without the express written consent of NSW Police Force. NSW Police Force attribution notice and logo to be retained on all copies of supplied images or footage with the moral rights to no false attribution and of integrity in all its images and footage asserted.

Two people will face court charged following an investigation into the supply of prohibited drugs in the state’s Northern Tablelands during a targeted police operation.

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In August 2023, officers attached to New England Police District established Strike Force Malebo to investigate the supply of prohibited drugs in the Armidale area.

Just after 6.30am yesterday (Wednesday 22 May 2024), strike force officers executed three search warrants simultaneously at homes in Armidale.

Officers located and seized, methamphetamine, ammunition, prohibited weapons, testosterone, and drug paraphernalia.

About 6.30am, officers attended a caravan park in Armidale, and arrested a 29-year-old man.

He was taken to Armidale Police Station and charged with supply prohibited drug – indictable quantity, owner/occupier knowingly allow use as drug premises, participate criminal group contribute criminal activity, and breach of bail. He was also charged with three unrelated traffic offences.

The man was refused bail and appeared at Armidale Local Court today (Thursday 23 May 2024).

About 9am, police attended another home in Armidale, and arrested a 42-year-old man.

He was taken to Armidale Police Station and charged with supply prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis.

The man was given conditional bail to appear at Armidale Local Court on Monday 17 June 2024.

Inquiries are continuing.

New England Police District Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Kingsley Chapman, said local police will continue to target prohibited drug supply.

“The harm caused by these prohibited substances to local communities cannot be understated,” he said.

“Police work with the community to proactively pursue anyone suspected of supplying prohibited drugs and disrupt the associated criminal activities which impact on the people of Armidale,” Insp Chapman said.

Anyone with information related to the supply of prohibited drugs within the New England Police District is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or local police.

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Local News

Councils lose half billion dollars a year

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Councils lose half billion dollars a year

 

The United Services Union (USU) has unveiled a startling revelation regarding the NSW Government’s handling of funds accrued through a flawed waste levy system, which has led to an annual loss exceeding half a billion dollars for local councils. Rather than channelling these funds back into assisting councils with their waste management services and infrastructure, as intended, the government’s actions have exacerbated financial strains on local authorities.

This revelation, to be presented before the NSW Standing Committee on State Development’s inquiry into local government financial sustainability, highlights a pressing issue compounded by the detrimental effects of rate capping—a policy that has severely constrained the financial flexibility of the majority of NSW councils. Both the flawed waste levy system and the constraints of rate capping persist as legacies of the previous coalition government.

General Secretary of the USU, Graeme Kelly, underscored the severity of the situation, emphasising that while local councils and communities contribute approximately $750 million annually through the waste levy, only a fraction, $250 million, is reinvested into local waste management initiatives. The staggering sum of $500 million is siphoned into the state’s consolidated revenue, neglecting the intended purpose of aiding councils in managing waste sustainably.

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The shortfall in waste levy revenue exacerbates existing challenges, particularly in regions like northern NSW, where inadequate landfill sites prompt councils to incur additional costs by transporting waste across state borders. This situation not only burdens ratepayers but also results in lost levy revenue for NSW.

Mr. Kelly decried this as a blatant instance of cost shifting by the NSW Government, which places undue strain on councils already grappling with financial constraints imposed by rate pegging, diminishing grants, and escalating service demands.

The USU contends that the mismanagement of the waste levy exacerbates financial pressures on councils, incentivizing some to seek alternatives such as dumping waste in neighbouring states. This practice not only undermines environmental objectives but also erodes the financial stability of local councils.

However, the waste levy issue is symptomatic of a larger financial crisis facing local government in NSW, as highlighted in a report by Professor Brian Dollery. The report underscores the deleterious impact of rate pegging, which over two decades has precipitated heightened debt levels, infrastructure deficiencies, and decreased municipal efficiency compared to states without rate caps.

Mr. Kelly emphasised the urgent need for reform, asserting that unless councils are empowered to set rates reflective of their actual costs, the risk of financial distress looms large, jeopardising employment and essential services for over 50,000 council employees statewide.

The USU calls upon the NSW Government to dismantle rate pegging as part of a comprehensive reform agenda aimed at securing the long-term financial viability of local government. While recognizing the complexity of the challenges ahead, Mr. Kelly stressed that abolishing rate pegging represents a crucial initial step towards establishing a sustainable funding model that acknowledges the indispensable role of local government in community welfare.

 

For more National Australia News, visit here.

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NSW Government to Modernise Planning with $5.6 Million AI Investment

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NSW Government to Modernise Planning with $5.6 Million AI Investment

 

The NSW Government has announced a $5.6 million initiative to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into local council planning systems to address the ongoing housing crisis and shortage of planners. This move aims to accelerate development assessment times and enhance the efficiency of the planning process.

The “AI in NSW Planning” project has identified key areas within the development application assessment process that contribute to delays and could benefit from AI technologies.

After thorough evaluation, three innovative technologies have been selected for trials through the AI Solutions Panel and Early Adopter Grant Program:

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  • Adaptovate Pty Ltd’s Development Assessment Intelligence System (DAISY)
  • Archistar Platform
  • Propcode CDC

Councils are encouraged to apply for funding to test these technologies, with collaborative joint grant applications eligible for up to $500,000 and single council applications up to $200,000. This funding initiative is designed to foster innovative solutions to streamline the development application process.

Approximately 85 percent of all new home development applications in NSW are assessed by council staff. The introduction of recommended AI tools aims to reduce the average time taken to assess development applications by swiftly identifying administrative and data input errors.

Applications for the Early Adopter Grant Program are open to all councils and will close on 22 May 2024. Successful applicants will be notified by June.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, emphasised the transformative potential of the program: “This grant program is set to modernise the NSW planning system, enhancing its efficiency by equipping our planners with the best tools available. Our objective is to ensure the planning system operates at full capacity, which is essential for the timely delivery of new homes.”

For further details or to apply for a grant, councils are invited to visit the NSW Planning website. This initiative marks a significant step towards bringing NSW planning systems into the 21st century, leveraging technology to meet the growing needs of the community.

 

For more National Australia News, visit here.

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