NSW Upper House calls for a review of library funding

Greens MP and Arts spokesperson, Jan Barham, has welcomed the NSW Legislative Council’s support for libraries and a review of the level of state funding.

“Since 1980, the NSW Government’s contribution to library funding has dropped from around a quarter of the total costs to less than 10 per cent. This is another example of cost-shifting from state to local government. Councils have carried too much of the burden in supporting local libraries, and as a result they have sometimes had to reduce services and struggled to provide new services to the public,” Ms Barham said.

“The Legislative Council passed a motion calling on the Government to review their subsidy rate to libraries, which has been fixed at $1.85 per capita since 1997 instead of keeping pace with rising costs.”

“My Parliamentary colleagues recognised the valuable contribution libraries make to the resilience and vibrancy of our communities. As well as their collections and services, public libraries promote social interaction, reduce environmental impacts through re-use and are a source of lifelong education and self-development,” Ms Barham said.

A recent report on the National Welfare & Economic Contributions of Public Libraries, commissioned by the Australian Library and Information Association, estimated that every dollar spent by NSW public libraries brings $3.20 in benefits to communities.

“With this support from the Parliament, now is the time for communities to lobby the Government to review its funding ahead of next year’s Budget. I encourage the Government to take long-overdue action and deliver more funding to libraries across the state.”

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

Hansard 24 October 2013 – debate on Jan Barham’s library funding motion

Contribution of Australian Public Libraries report

Text of the motion as passed:

1. That this House notes that:
(a) libraries are a fundamental part of the educational and cultural vibrancy of community,
(b) providing life learning and opportunities for social interaction,
(c) under the terms of the Library Act 1939, the State Library of New South Wales administers the Government’s Public Library Grants and Subsidies program, which provides funding on an annual basis to local authorities to assist in the provision of public library services throughout New South Wales,
(d) Arts NSW, via the New South Wales state cultural institutions, manage significant cultural heritage collections and provide services and programs throughout the state, and together, these institutions provide a unique and irreplaceable archive of the state’s history and contemporary culture, and
(e) the Library Act 1939 and the Library Regulation state that:
(i) “State and Local Government authorities work collaboratively together to enable public libraries in New South Wales to meet the evolving needs and demands of the community”,
(ii) the age of a collection is a key consideration when determining the adequacy of a public library,
(iii) the Library Council of NSW “Age of Collections” standards states that at least 49 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last five years and 90 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last 10 years,
(iv) the size of a public library’s collection should respond to the changing and growing size of a community.

2. That this House notes that:
(a) in 1939, New South Wales councils were eligible for a subsidy from the Government for the provision of library services, and under section 13(2)(b) of the original Library Act 1939 the subsidy was set at one shilling per resident within the council area,
(b) in 1952, the subsidy rate under the Library Act was set at one shilling and sixpence per resident within a council area,
(c) in 1979-80, $8,478,905 was spent by the Government on public library services while total local government expenditure in 1980 was $ 27,517,031,
(d) in 2010-11, expenditure by local government on public library services was $314,284,780, whereas expenditure by the Government was $25, 538,000, which includes $2 million for the Country Library fund, and
(e) from 1979-80 to 2010-11, the percentage of funding provided by local government to public libraries increased from 74.6 per cent of the total funding on an annual basis to 92.5 per cent, while Government funding decreased from 23.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent on an annual basis.

3. That this House calls on the Government to:
(a) review the subsidy rate of $1.85 prescribed in the Library Regulation 2010 and index the subsidy rate to consumer price index (CPI), and
(b) review restoring Government funding for public libraries from the current 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

NSW Legislation Open Data Creative Challenge

Greens MP and Housing & Arts spokesperson Jan Barham is inviting graphic designers, creative artists, data analysts, policy wonks, geospatial information system (GIS) specialists, residential park residents and ‘open/public data’ aficionados to participate in a New South Wales Legislation Open Data Challenge.

Jan is seeking data analysis, apps, data visualisations, multimedia presentations and open source data collection to help NSW politicians and communities get a more informed picture of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Bill 2013. With better information we can hopefully get an improved policy and legislation outcome for all residents of residential parks in NSW.

Background

The NSW Government has recently introduced the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Bill 2013[1]. The Bill reforms the way caravan parks and manufactured home estates are managed and governed in NSW.

These parks are not just places for tourists and campers having a week away on NSW’s beautiful coast or regional towns. Caravan parks (also known as residential parks) are home to approximately 33,000 permanent residents. In regional and rural communities residential parks play an important part in the affordable housing mix. For a more detailed background on the legislation please the material below.

Why an Open Data Challenge?

Often governments make important policy decisions that affect the everyday lives of citizens without sufficient evidence or information. In other instances, government agencies maintain a monopoly over what really should be public information.  

The aim of this Open Data Challenge is to involve people in the review of laws and public policy by analysing open/publicly available data in innovative ways and to create data visualisations that help tell important stories in a more accessible way. We believe an online community from all parts of NSW and potentially Australia can make an important contribution to public policy through such an initiative.

In this specific circumstance, the aim is to achieve greater insight into the demographic profile of residential park residents, a geospatial understanding of residential parks and a data rich perspective on park operation.

Submissions and information provided as part of the Open Data Challenge will be presented to the NSW Press Gallery during debate on the legislation and posted on Jan’s website. All works will be fully attributed to authors/participants and we will tweet your contribution to our networks. This is a great opportunity to showcase your open data collection, design, analysis or programming skills and promote your work.

How to Participate

  1. Start by downloading the existing data resources on Jan’s website (see below) and review the suggested approaches, but feel free to think outside the square.
  2. Take a look at other open/public data collection and data visualisation projects for further ideas.
  3. Send your data visualisations, apps, designs or open data analysis work to jan.barham@parliament.nsw.gov.au with your full details and a brief explanation of how you put your work together. Please submit all work before Nov 21, 2013 for inclusion in the project.
  4. We will be using the twitter hashtag #nswdatachallenge to exchange ideas, have Q&A, provide updates on the progress of legislation and share project work.

Some suggested projects include:

  • Keyword analysis of Parliamentary Speeches, Ministerial Press Releases and Department of Fair Trading material on the legislation and historical amendments to the Residential Parks Act 1998.
  • GIS and location analysis involving plotting of residential parks and other location information such as crown land reserves, service mapping, house price rises by postcode or population movements for example.
  • Data visualisations, graphs or multimedia including images of caravan parks in NSW
  • Data analysis and graphics using NSW Government data, open source data or ABS data (ABS Table Builder) exploring resident and caravan park demographics. This might include using ABS data to examine demographics and parks communities.
  • Review and analysis of Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal data on Residential Parks cases.
  • Social media network analysis and visualisation of key stakeholders using programs such as Gelphi.

Want further information about the Open Data Challenge?

If you want to discuss your project/contribution with us or seek clarification on the type of work we want to encourage, please feel free to contact us at jan.barham@parliament.nsw.gov.au, tweet us at @janbarham, call us on (02) 9230 2204 or use the twitter hashtag #nswdatachallenge.

MATERIALS AND DATA SOURCES

Click here for the New South Wales Minister for Fair Trading’s 2nd Reading on the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Bill 2013.

Click here for the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Bill 2013 .

Click here for a breakdown by year of Residential Park matters taken on the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribubal (CTTT). Park and estate residents and managers can take disputes to the CTTT to resolve issues such as contract breaches, rent increases  or rental bonds to name a few. The data is taken from CTTT annual reports which can be accessed here.

Click here for a KML file which includes location information on parks taken from the NSW Residential Parks Register.To open the KML file use a GIS program or Google Earth which will plot the various park locations in NSW.

Click here for a excel spreadsheet of residential parks listed by Local Government Area (LGA). Included in the spreadsheet is LGA population, rate of park presence per population, Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA). Many more data sets could be added using Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) resources.

Submissions on the draft exposure Bill by key stakeholders – ARPRA (Affiliated Residential Park Residents Association NSW) and Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association.

Visit the NSW Open Data Site and search data by NSW Government Department

Image credit:

Above: Twofold Bay Beach Caravan Park CC-BY-NC-ND by KMJPhotography (TillyDog)

Front page: Terrigal Haven Caravan Park CC-BY-NC by Gostalgia: Local history from Gosford Library, from the collection of the late Doug and Margaret Parton of Toukley.

Greens NSW submission on the Draft Residential (Land Lease) Communities Bill

Following a review of residential parks legislation in 2011 and 2012, the NSW Government has proposed a new Bill to replace the existing Residential Parks Act 1998. The Greens NSW submission on the Draft Residential (Land Lease) Communities Bill raises concerns about some of the changes that are proposed, and highlights the importance of listening to the concerns of park residents, many of whom are older people on fixed incomes, whose homes are their major assets.

Stronger protections required for park residents

New legislation could expose owners, buyers and sellers of mobile or manufactured homes to financial risks, warns Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham.

The NSW Government has introduced legislation that will replace the existing Residential Parks Act, following a process of reviewing the existing laws and consultation on draft legislation.

“I remain concerned that some important issues raised by residents in submissions and letters to MPs haven’t been adequately addressed. For many residents who are retired this is about their primary asset and its value and security affects their future,” Ms Barham said.

“I recognise there are some positive initiatives proposed, including new rules of conduct and sanctions for operators and new disclosure requirements about the sale of homes. Unfortunately home owners could lose out in the new financial arrangements by paying a share of the value of their home to operators, levies for upgrades and rent increases.”

New provisions include ‘voluntary sharing arrangements,’ which allow operators to charge entry and exit fees as well as receiving an uncapped share of the price when a home owner sells their home.

“Voluntary sharing arrangements could see home owners signing over a portion of their home’s sale value to the park operator. These agreements could have a negative impact on costs and affordability across the entire sector. The choice for owners to enter into these agreements needs to be fully informed as to the long-term costs & benefits,” Ms Barham said.

“I’m concerned that the Bill allows operators to justify site fee increases based on projected increases in their costs or planned improvements to the park. These things might never eventuate, yet residents will already be paying, often stretching their financial limits. Another issue is the change of use of sites – it isn’t clear that owners are protected from their site being changed from long-term to short-term use, leaving them subject to termination or a loss of value when it came to the sale of the home.”

“In NSW there is a shortage of affordable housing and residential parks are for many not only cost effective but also provide a very important community particularly for many older persons The legislation should protect the rights and interests of these people,” Ms Barham concluded.

The Bill will be debated when Parliament resumes next week. Ms Barham has indicated she will pursue amendments that adequately protect vulnerable home owners and residents.