President's Message 20 March 2020

Economic Stimulus for Local Governments, join us to take action 

Join Local Government NSW in calling for the Federal and State Governments to direct economic stimulus packages to local governments.

Local councils are best placed to deliver locally led solutions, including recovery efforts and economic stimulus in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic – as demonstrated during bushfires, drought and floods.

We know economic stimulus provided to local governments during the Global Financial Crisis were effective at generating significant local economic recovery for Australia.

Further NSW government stimulus packages must include substantial funding and resources for councils to help drive local economic recovery for every corner of the state, ensuring local employment and support for local businesses across NSW, as well as ongoing investment in public infrastructure and community services for the public good.

But what works in the City of Sydney may not work in Cobar. We need the NSW Government to support local economic development strategies to boost jobs and the resilience of every community across NSW. We know Councils can deliver this.

Please join LGNSW in calling for economic stimulus for NSW councils by passing a motion, writing a letter to your State and Federal MPs and undertaking local media about this issue.

This week we have successfully secured you:

  • Progress towards legislative change needed to enable councils (as democratically-elected bodies) to meet via phone or video-conference facilities as a social distancing measure. Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock has advised this change is imminent. For further information, email Senior Policy Officer Elizabeth Hayes.
  • Advocacy for certainty on local government election dates. While LGNSW does not have a policy position on whether to delay local government elections, we’ve called on the NSW Government to provide certainty for councillors, candidates and communities. LGNSW will continue to liaise with the NSW Government on this matter as a priority. For further information contact Strategy Manager Damian Thomas on 02 9242 4063 or by email
  • Clarification on the delivery of grocery and other supplies to supermarkets and retailers. We’re proud to note the acknowledgement from Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes MP that councils and retailers have been working well together to allow greater flexibility in delivery hours already. Nevertheless, the introduction by the NSW Government of a new SEPP to lift curfews under a COVID19 State Environmental Planning Policy is now in place until October and it will potentially ease some of the administration burden on Councils. Contact Strategy Manager Jane Partridge on 02 9242 4093 or by email should you have any ongoing issues.
  • Clarification on the Joint Workplace Response to COVID-19 by LGNSW, the United Services Union, Local Government Engineers Association and Development and Environmental Professionals Association on how councils and their staff should respond from a workplace relations perspective. Whilst this is an advisory guide only, it is imperative councils uphold their legal and other obligations to balance budgets, occupational health and safety obligations and moral obligations to continue to employ people where we can to provide council’s essential services, during challenging times. For further information, email LGNSW Workplace Relations Unit or call (02) 9242 4142.

WINS!

  • NSW Government-funded rates relief for properties destroyed beyond repair by bushfire: We welcomed the government’s announcement of six months of council rates relief, including the land rates component and fixed service charges such as waste, water and sewerage.
  • Council of Australian Governments review of Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements: Leaders agreed to review and, if necessary, update and streamline arrangements following the experience of the national-scale bushfire disaster. They also agreed to take immediate action to improve the resilience of the national telecommunications network and consider how to adapt the built environment to future climate and hazard conditions.
  • Bridges renewal program: We welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement this week that applications are now open for the federal government Bridges Renewal Program, Round 5, and the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, Round 7. Councils affected by bushfires will be assessed as a priority, but all councils are able to apply. The total available funding across the two programs is $300m.

HELP AMPLIFY OUR SECTOR'S ADVOCACY WORK

Good communication is critical during emergencies like the COVID-19 outbreak. LGNSW is monitoring and responding to latest developments and assessing and addressing any potential impacts of State and Federal government measures on local government. However, we’d appreciate your help.

  • Tell us what you need and the issues you are experiencing in relation to COVID-19. It’s important to acknowledge a lot of what is happening is unprecedented. These circumstances demand flexibility from all of us. Please let us know if we can support you should service delivery be potentially impacted by this pandemic or you have issues or concerns in relation to the confirmed cases in your communities.
  • Help us secure funding and action to Save our Recycling. The NSW government must set aside extra funding in this year's state budget for recycling glass and other waste ahead of an export ban in July. We need fast tracked funding for council-led recycling measures. Please resolve the Save our Recycling Mayoral Minute. For further information, call 9242 4080 or email Susy Cenedese, Strategy Manager - Environment.
  • Promote the importance of superannuation for Councillors by moving a resolution at your council, ensuring your council is sharing your views with the Office of Local Government, or by contributing to the LGNSW submission via email to the Workplace Relations Unit.

REMINDER:

All employers covered by the Award are to provide the Industrial Relations Commission information relating to casual, labour hire and fixed term contract employees by no later than 4pm on 30 March 2020.