20 July 2021
Essential council work exempt under latest NSW Health Orders
This weekend we successfully secured exemptions to the NSW Public Health Orders Authorised Workers list to ensure the extensive front line local government workforce who live in south west Sydney are able to continue to come to work.
This means we will be able to continue to undertake childcare, cleansing and waste and other essential work for our councils and communities.
Thank you to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and the Business Council of Australia who convened these discussions with government and industry.
Win! $5 billion to support COVID impacted communities
I was greatly pleased with the State and Federal governments’ announcement of a $5.1 billion COVID economic support package last week, following our calls for urgent financial assistance for businesses and individuals during the latest lockdown.
LGNSW’s coordination of calls from more than 70 mayors and council general managers allowed a further amplification of the urgent need and enabled us to convince Premier Glady Berejiklian to provide a new support package to address the devastating effects of the latest lockdown.
The new COVID-19 Fighting Fund, which includes $1 billion from the Commonwealth, will provide a range of grants to help businesses stay afloat during lockdown and support employees who have been impacted by reduced working hours.
Pushing back on infrastructure contribution rule changes
On Friday I spoke at a Parliamentary inquiry into infrastructure contribution rule changes and called for this legislation to be withdrawn for further analysis and consultation with councils and other stakeholders, to ensure reform in this area is beneficial to councils and the community rather than having detrimental impacts as they would at present.
Most importantly, I stressed that these contributions are vital to us providing parks, pools, pathways and other vital infrastructure, and that councils and their communities must not be worse off under any legislative changes.
I will keep you posted on how this proceeds.
Council compliance levies
We continue to oppose the Government's stripping of compliance levy funding from councils and are disappointed that the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Compliance Fees) Regulation 2021 was made on 16 July with the effect of prohibiting councils from collecting compliance levies after 31 December 2021.
We strongly encourage councils to make representations to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and to their local State MPs calling for a new fee structure to fund councils’ compliance programs fairly and sustainably.
Childcare in COVID-affected areas
I have written to the Premier seeking urgent financial support to ensure council-run early childhood education and care services affected by stay-at-home orders can opt-in to waive gap fees to parents and remain financially viable, in line with new arrangements introduced by the federal government on 19 July.
Councils across NSW greatly appreciated the NSW Government’s $82 million in funding last year to support 260 council ECEC services across the state that were not eligible for JobKeeper, and we are again calling on the NSW Government to provide support to these services.
Orange, Cabonne and Blayney councils win joint bid to host 2022 LGNSW Destination and Visitor Economy Conference
Congratulations to Orange City Council, Cabonne Council and Blaney Shire Council for their successful combined bid to host our 2022 LGNSW Destination and Visitor Economy Conference.
This annual event is one of the most important on our calendar; a chance to focus on maximising outcomes from our crucial visitor economy by looking at the latest developments in the sector.
For the first time this year, we expanded the parameters of the three-day conference to look at the wider issue of economic development in local government. The broader approach was well received by participants and we will be seeking to repeat that success next year.
The Orange, Cabonne and Blaney alliance bid made a compelling case for hosting next year’s event in the vibrant and picturesque NSW mid-west greenbelt. I look forward to joining you there.
LGNSW Planning Forum an online success
Despite last-minute changes from in-person to online for our LGNSW Planning Forum last Thursday (15 July), we still had a tremendous turnout of more than 90 participants.
I thank recently appointed Coordinator General, Planning Delivery Unit and Local Government at the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Kiersten Fishburn for joining us and talking on how we can all better engage with government agencies to remove planning blockages.
SGS Economics and Planning urban economist Julian Szafraniec shared his expertise around changes to the economy and social norms and how they will affect local government and planning, especially in a COVID-19 impacted era.
These forums are invaluable for all of us as we face the pressures of keeping up with planning reforms while ensuring the absolute best outcomes for our communities by working to retain council planning powers.
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