8 October 2020
This year’s Federal Budget provided a major boost to councils working to help NSW communities to recover from the cumulative impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19. Its emphasis on infrastructure investment, stimulus funding and job creation (particularly in the regions) is recognition of the central role of councils when it comes to driving a locally led economic recovery. Refer to LGNSW media release.
LGNSW is strongly advocating for the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to follow suit and prioritise infrastructure stimulus funding for councils in every corner of the State in the upcoming (17 November) NSW Budget.
Only then can we create jobs, keep people in business and help build community resilience during arguably the most challenging economic climate in our history. It’s in this context that I encourage you to share the LGNSW Pre-Budget Submission with your State Members of Parliament. For further information, email Shaun McBride, Chief Economist.
Wins! Federal Budget funding announcements, consistent with our advocacy:
- $1 billion expansion of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, a major stimulus measure that means all NSW councils will benefit from funding allocations. It follows the $500 million already provided in May this year.
- $2 billion over two years for a new national Road Safety program for small-scale road safety projects including road widening, centre lines and barriers, rumble strips. A significant win for the sector, LGNSW has consistently advocated for increased state and federal road safety funding for some time and much of this funding will go to councils.
- $1.6 billion over four years for an additional 23,000 home care packages. This is welcome news for the more than half of NSW councils that deliver direct aged care services under this program – meal delivery, home maintenance, domestic and cleaning assistance and social connection. These services are vital during COVID and LGNSW continues to advocate for funding certainty. Refer to our April 2020 Submissionto the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
- $2.2 billion over five years for the Future Drought Fund. This funding (including $100 million in 2020-21) is geared toward drought response, resilience and preparedness of primary producers, rural and regional communities and local councils. An additional $162.5 million for the Wyangala Dam ($325 million in total) and $121 million for the Dungowan Dam ($242 million in total) was also committed as part of a 10-year rolling program of water infrastructure investments to support agriculture, increase water security and build resilience.
- Additional $200 million funding via the Building Better Regions Fund, including $100 million dedicated for tourism infrastructure. This welcome funding reflects LGNSW work to secure locally led stimulus for communities throughout NSW.
- $100 million over two years for the Regional Recovery Partnership Program. Councils in key regions including the Snowy Mountains, Parkes, Newcastle and the Hunter are set to receive this boost to support recovery and resilience.
- $4.5 billion boost for NBN Regional Connectivity. LGNSW is looking forward to more detail about the creation of a $300 million fund to co-invest with councils to improve broadband services in regional areas.
- $100.8 million over two years for mental health. LGNSW has long advocated for better access to mental health services for those people experiencing mental health issues during drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, including more recently at the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry and the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
- $35.0 million to extend the Safer Communities Fund over four years. This funding enables local government and community organisations to address crime and anti-social behaviour.
- $28.1 million for the Stronger Communities Programme over two years. Grants to community organisations and local governments for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities.
- $53.6 million for rural health. $3.3 million over two years to extend well developed proof-of-concept pilots into innovative primary care models in rural areas across western and southern NSW. Also, $50.3 million over four years from 2020-21 for expansion of the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program to address maldistribution of the rural health workforce. This funding is in line with our advocacy to state and federal MPs following motions presented at the 2019 LGNSW Annual Conference from Forbes, Parkes, Lachlan and Leeton Shire Councils.
Help amplify our sector’s advocacy work:
- The Federal Government’s Budget announcement of $190 million to kickstart the Recycling Modernisation Fund for new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture waste reflects a key ask LGNSW’s Save Our Recycling campaign. However, the program’s success is contingent on contributions from the states. Please take the opportunity, in the lead up to the NSW State Budget, to write to your local member and urge the NSW Government to come to the party through better use of the $800 million Waste Levy collected each year. Specifically, we want a truly circular economy with homegrown waste solutions and new local manufacturing jobs in NSW! Meanwhile, join our campaign. For further information, email Susy Cenedese, Strategy Manager Environment.
- The Federal government’s substantial additional stimulus funding for councils during this difficult period has compensated for our disappointment that this Budget did not provide for an increase in Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) to 1% of total Commonwealth taxation revenue). That said, it’s good to see FAGs are being maintained (in real terms) over the forward estimates. Rest assured, LGNSW, ALGA and other local government associations will continue to campaign for this important measure. For further information, email Shaun McBride, Chief Economist.
Reminder: Register for the Annual Conference!
Thank you to those who have registered voting delegates and submitted motions for the upcoming online Annual Conference. For those that haven’t, I encourage you to keep the motions coming to guide the debate and don’t forget it’s the registered voting delegates whose votes will help determine our advocacy agenda. For further information on voting, contact Industrial Officer Benjamin Niciak on (02) 9242 4144.
I also encourage you to take the opportunity to submit your questions for members of our Politicians Panel - Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock, Leader of the Opposition Ms Jodi McKay MP and David Shoebridge MLC, Greens NSW spokesperson for local government – by 23 October 2020.
For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Annual Conference".
AR Bluett Memorial Trustee – Reminder: Councillors and former councillors from rural councils are encouraged to apply for a position on the AR Bluett Memorial Trust, responsible for the most prestigious award in local government. For further information, please contact Trust Chairman Les McMahon on 0412 303 719. To apply, please email Damian Thomas, LGNSW Strategy Manager, to obtain an information and an application pack. Applications close at 5pm on 14 October 2020.
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