President's Message 14 November 2019

As we brace for more dangerous bushfire conditions during what is forecast to be a long, hot summer, I offer my heartfelt thanks to the mayors, councillors, council staff and emergency services personnel who have shown such dedication to their communities during the ongoing emergency.

The Premier has declared a state of emergency and this has implications for the way our NSW emergency services personnel engage with councils, including use of our precious water supplies. We welcome the appointment of Recovery Coordinator Euan Ferguson, and we will continue to work closely with him and the Office of Emergency Management in the areas that need to recover and rebuild.

I have spoken to mayors in areas affected by fires this week and will continue to keep in touch as the situation changes. I have also spoken to many mayors from areas not impacted about how they can help.

We understand that as we move into a recovery phase, support will be primarily needed in the form of money (to charities) and equipment (cleaning and waste trucks and personnel).

If your council can help or if you need help, please email Damian Thomas, Strategy Manager – Social and Community.

WIN! Recycling is firmly back on the national agenda thanks to impending export bans on waste materials.

On behalf of Australian local governments, I joined State and Territory environment ministers last week as they signed up to the new National Waste Policy Action Plan, which will see waste reduction and recycling prioritised.

The Plan includes the following targets:

  • An 80 per cent recovery rate of material across all waste streams;
  • Significant increases to government procurement of recycled materials; and
  • Halving the amount of organic waste sent to landfill.

This new policy agenda is welcome news to LGNSW and over 14, 000 people who support our Save Our Recycling campaign which is calling on the NSW Government to reinvest the Waste Levy in:

  • Increasing local and state government procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content;
  • Delivering a state-wide education campaign on the importance of recycling to encourage the right way to recycle, the purchase of products with recycled content, and promoting waste avoidance.
  • Funding councils to develop regional plans for the future of waste and resource recovery in their regions
  • Priority infrastructure and other local projects needed to deliver the regional-scale plans, particularly where a market failure has been identified.

For further information, email Susy Cenedese, Strategy Manager – Environment

Advocacy on Mixed Waste Organics Outputs

Earlier today I addressed our workshop for councils affected by the State Government’s recent decision to ban Mixed Waste Organics Outputs, which will have signficant implications for councils and our green waste. The feedback and outcomes from today’s conversation will inform our submission (and those by councils) on this significant issue.

Based on feedback from councils, I have met with and written to the NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, to note that before councils can establish what a more sustainable future looks like, we need policy certainly about the Government’s 20 Year Waste Strategy. Specifically, I have asked the Government to extend th Phase 1 Support Package and waste levy exemption until the final 20 Year Waste Strategy is released.

 

 

LGNSW has also sought an extension to the EPAs consultation timeframe (currently 28 November) however it's still very important that affected councils also seek more time to respond and, where possible, highlight any immediate support needs they have.

For further information, email Susy Cenedese, Strategy Manager – Environment.

Progress! Building standards and building quality in NSW

While there is still much more to do to rebuild community confidence in building standards and building quality in NSW, I am pleased to report that Public Accountability Committee’s first report, Regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes, listened to our calls and adopted so many of our recommendations. The report was tabled in the Legislative Council this week. It corresponds with Parliamentary debate about the Design and Building Practitioners Bill - an important piece of legislation that seeks to address accountability issues in the building and construction sector.

For further information, email Linda Blinkhorn, Senior Policy Office – Planning.

Local Government Procurement of Recycled Materials

Councils are already leading the charge to procure recycled materials, to ensure waste is a product, not a problem. This week’s commitment by 11 southern Sydney councils to work together to recycle 45 million glass bottles and buy more recycled material such as repurposed glass to use as alternative road making material, is a prime example. It is demonstration that local government plays a pivotal role when it comes to creating a circular economy, and associated industry development and jobs.

Do you have an example of local government procuring recycled goods? Please email Susy Cenedese, Strategy Manager – Environment.

Encouraging Women to Local Government

This week I had the pleasure of contributing strategies to encourage, empower and support women to become community leaders as elected members on their local council. The Election of Women to Local Government Workshop was hosted by the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock included Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, Bronnie Taylor and representatives from Women NSW, Department of Family and Community Services, Australian Local Government Women’s Association NSW Branch, Country Women’s Association NSW Branch, Women for Election, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Lake Macquarie Council, Office for the Minister for Local Government and Office of Local Government.

LGNSW will advocate for an evidence-based community education campaign, if we are to improve diversity in councils and ensure elected representatives reflect and represent their communities. Meanwhile, reform is also needed to allow local government councillors to access superannuation, if elected in 2020. The workshop discussion will inform the development of the NSW Women’s Strategy 2018-2022, a whole-of -government and whole-of-community approach to advance social and economic equality for women and girls.

For further information, email Damian Thomas, Strategy Manager – Social and Community.

Interesting Crown Lands and Native Title Summit

This week’s Crown Lands and Native Title Summit was a very interesting discussion about the complexities of meeting the legislative requirements, given limited budgets and resources provided by the NSW Government. My thanks and gratitude to our speakers and attendees who made their way to the event despite fire emergency warnings from authorities.

As a result of the Summit, LGNSW will soon share the slides from presenters on our website. We will also advocate to the Crown Lands Ministers for an extension of funding for local government, resourcing to ensure response times are appropriate and they can provide better templates for councils, and a range of other reforms to support councils with their requirements. LGNSW is making further representations to Ministers Pavey and Stokes.

For further information, email Shaun McBride, Chief Economist – Finance and Utilities