President's Message 12 June 2020

Today, we have welcomed the Minister’s official announcement that NSW council elections will be held on 4 September 2021. This brings certainty for local communities and allows councils time to prepare.

We also welcomed clarification that the Minister would not impose compulsory universal postal voting, allowing councils to ensure in-person voting can continue.

As our Board met today, we unanimously endorsed a formal offer of a three-year industrial award for local government employees. The offer – formulated after months of work and extensive consultation with councils right across NSW – provides for economically-responsible pay increases of 1.5% in the first year and 2% for each of the remaining two years.

The goal is to help council employees play their part in keeping money flowing through our local economies: through shops and cafes; with service providers and small businesses – protecting the jobs and incomes of the mums and dads and young people who own or work in those smaller local businesses.

Strong communities rely on strong councils, and as a sector we are committed to playing our part in a locally-led economic recovery.

Industry unions are currently consulting members before responding to the offer which, if accepted, will go before the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to be ratified at the end of this month. 

LGNSW this week also:

  • Delivered a heartfelt thank you to the Federal Government for its recent local Road and Community Infrastructure stimulus funding package, which councils will use to help their communities recover from the economic impacts of not only COVID-19, but the bushfires, floods and droughts that preceded the pandemic.

The funding is scheduled to flow into Council bank accounts from July 1, but like the Roads to Recovery program, councils are required to submit work schedules outlining the projects they plan to undertake. With just over two weeks to the new financial year, councils are reminded to submit their shovel-ready projects so they can begin projects which will all help drive a locally led recovery, and celebrate this advocacy win to ensure we drive a locally-led recovery.

  • Thanked the NSW Government for the much-needed $1.5 million in grants designed to help prevent and clean up illegal dumping. This funding, drawn from the Waste Less Recycle More initiative, is a really important given increases in illegal dumping since the COVID-19 pandemic saw a significant section of the workforce sheltering at home
  • Welcomed the State Government’s $50 million commitment to support recovery of the grass roots arts and culture sector. We’re seeking clarification on whether councils, who play a key role in supporting local community arts projects, organisations and services, will be eligible for the funding, and advocating for a range of further initiatives to support the arts and culture sector.

PROGRESS ON LGNSW PRIORITIES

  • We’re also working with the NSW Government to drive the rollout of the Fixing Local Roads and Fixing Country Bridges programs as soon as possible, and to fast track funding planned for future tranches now.
  • We’re deeply concerned at reports the State Government is considering a reduction of Road Block grants for councils as part of promised road take backs. NSW councils have responsibility for almost 90 per cent of the State’s roads – around 1640,000 km in total - yet receive limited Federal and State funding support to maintain that responsibility.

That’s why we will continue to hold the State Government to its pre-election promise to not only take back up to 15,000 kilometres of regional roads and ensure it is fully funded. There is still a massive amount of work needed to maintain council managed roads, and maintaining Road Block grants is essential for councils to do that work.

COUNCIL ACTION NEEDED:

  • A reminder that expressions of interest for the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Advisory Committee close COB Monday 22 June 2020. Please contact LGNSW Policy Officer Elle Brunsdon for further information via email or phone 9424 4082.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to have your say on the Issues paper released by the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. The paper canvases the role of local governments in preparing for, responding to and recovering from natural disasters, and can be found on the Commission’s website. Comment is due by Thursday 18 June 2020 and should be lodged by email to submissions@royalcommission.gov.au.