President's Message 27 March 2020

This week we note the decision by Local Government Minister Hancock to postpone the state’s council elections until September 2021, providing certainty to our communities during these extraordinary times. There has never been a more important time for local leadership, stability and governance by elected local government representatives than during this pandemic. 

We continue to urge State and Federal Governments to rapidly inject economic stimulus funding into councils, to ensure we can support our communities and valued council staff through the COVID-19 pandemic. Refer to the LGNSW media release.

What has changed:

  • ADVOCACY WIN – Certainty secured as Local Government elections are delayed for at least 12 months, tentatively to September 2021. Current councillors, popularly elected mayors and mayors elected by councillors in September 2019 will continue to hold office until September 2021 once the new election date is gazetted. Mayoral elections will need to be held for those mayors elected by councillors in September 2018, when their two-year terms expire. All other positions with annual terms, including most deputy mayors, will be re-elected in September too. Refer to the LGNSW media release.
  • ADVOCACY WIN: Online council meetings are now possible. Councils may now hold virtual official meetings to support governance during social distancing and self-isolation. This is great news for councils who can meet via audio visual links and webcast their meetings to the public. However, the Government must ensure all councils, including those unable to meet these new requirements, can urgently obtain approval for alternative arrangements. For further information contact Strategy Manager Damian Thomas on 02 9242 4063 or by email.
  • ADVOCACY WIN: Eplanning Extension Whilst ePlanning has been mandated for 42 councils in metro Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Illawarra, we have secured a six-month transition period to give councils time to prepare their operating procedures and staff. While councils and Principal Certifying Authorities (PCAs) operating in metropolitan areas will be required to start accepting and processing DAs, complying development certificates and post-consent certificates via the NSW Planning Portal from 1 July 2020, the mandate will not take effect until 31 December 2020. The remaining 86 councils outside metropolitan areas, have until 1 July 2021 before ePlanning becomes mandatory. We will continue to call on the Government to ensure that no councils are charged for using ePlanning, and service level agreements are in place to ensure the quality of service to the public can be delivered. For further information contact Senior Policy Officer Linda Blinkhorn on 02 9242 4094 or by email.
  • ADVOCACY WIN: The federal government’s $50.6 million Black Spot Program for the 2020-2021 is very welcome. It will go directly into improving road safety outcomes at 147 dangerous crash sites across the local road network in NSW. For further information contact Senior Policy Officer Sanjiv Sathiah by email.
  • NEW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act changes allow the Minister for Planning and Open Spaces to make and Order for development (or class of developments) to be carried out to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. This change allows development to occur notwithstanding the existence of other planning instruments, approvals and their conditions of consent and any documentation required under the Act or its regulation is to be made public online via the NSW Planning Portal or another approved website. Access the Ministerial Orders currently in force here
  • NEW 24/7 retail operations. The Minister for Planning and Open Spaces has issued an order to enable retailers, supermarkets and pharmacies, and commercial waste collection services, to operate 24/7 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order also allows home-based businesses to operate at any time and boosts the number of people that can be employed subject to social distancing rules. For further information contact Senior Policy Officer Linda Blinkhorn on 02 9242 4094 or by email.

LGNSW will of course continue to provide you with every support during this period of change. We are also making changes of our own.

In a time when professional development has never been more important, we’re moving to online delivery of training and events. We’ll keep you informed with news about all future event programs. You can also sign up to receive latest news, offers and discounts.

HELP AMPLIFY OUR SECTOR'S ADVOCACY WORK

  • Calling for the State and Federal governments to urgently deliver stimulus funds to local governments. Please assist us by calling on your local State and Federal members for urgent economic stimulus funds to councils that we know will assist in generating local economic recovery for NSW and Australia.
  • Essential services in your communities: I encourage you to ensure your Council has identified what constitutes essential services in your community, and let LGNSW know, as Government continues in its efforts to identify public facilities and services that should be closed to the general public, consistent with the Public Health Orders signed by the NSW Health Minister. The OLG have developed an FAQ document which can be accessed here. Please provide LGNSW Staff contact here

REMINDERS

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

POSITIONS OPEN

  • State Weed Committee: I encourage councillors to contribute their local government expertise to the NSW State Weed Committee. For further information on this role, call 9242 4080 or email Susy Cenedese, Strategy Manager – Environment.