President's Message 3 April 2020

My thoughts are with those in the local government family who are fighting COVID-19 or caring for loved ones during this difficult time.

I’m so grateful to everyone in local government, whether elected or staff, for the incredible work everyone is doing to keep the essential services moving in our councils! Thanks especially to the many General Managers who joined our teleconference to share ideas and feedback during this rapidly changing pandemic. Thank you, one and all.

LGNSW has stepped up representations on government financial assistance and economic stimulus measures, on your behalf.

What we know:

  • The Federal Government announced local government is not eligible for the new Job Keeper Program.
  • Alongside other concerns, this means many council-run childcare centres will soon not be viable, in light of the Prime Minister’s declaration that all childcare will now be free. Refer to the LGNSW media release.

What LGNSW is advocating for: State and Federal government economic stimulus to secure the delivery of the essential local government services needed to keep our communities running, to protect people’s health and their livelihoods.

Specifically, we are asking for:

  • increased Financial Assistance Grants to 1 per cent
  • immediate economic stimulus to support council employees, especially in early education and care
  • stimulus funding for projects that will boost local economies, including by increasing existing programs such as Roads to Recovery, and
  • increased access to TAFE, VET and other apprenticeship opportunities that council staff can undertake to address skill shortages, especially for staff in non-essential services who are unable to be redeployed.

This week, I met with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Federal Local Government Minister Mark Coulton and Federal Opposition Local Government Minister Jason Clare, on your behalf. I have also met with a wide range of State Government Ministers and Shadow Ministers, and secured Opposition support for local government economic stimulus on your behalf.

HELP AMPLIFY OUR SECTOR'S ADVOCACY WORK

Please join LGNSW to advocate for economic stimulus for local government from State and Federal governments.

An LGNSW advocacy campaign is being developed to demonstrate the important role your council plays in your community as an essential service provider, an employer, and a customer of many small and large businesses. As such, we would appreciate your support by providing us:

  • facts on your council’s financial position, funding and resources, including details of mounting costs and declining revenues
  • examples of service impacts of drought, bushfires and now the COVID-19 pandemic
  • details on what your council is doing to help support local businesses and your local economy, and
  • your capacity to do more through local economic development strategies – local employment, contracts for goods and services, public infrastructure, community services.

Ensuring ongoing management of water utilities during COVID-19

LGNSW is advocating to ensure that council water utilities have access to adequate personal protective equipment supplies during the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly for sewerage operations. If you identify any specific needs, please contact LGNSW's Mark Hely. LGNSW, DPIE Water and the Water Directorate have also issued advice for councils to ensure ongoing management of water utilities, including consideration of business continuity options if staff become unavailable or there are supply chain interruptions.

Planning processes and regulation in response to COVID-19

Councils with questions or concerns around compliance and enforcement of new planning rules and other regulations in the current climate should contact LGNSW's Jane Partridge, who will be representing you at regular weekly meetings with the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment. Please be sure to contact Jane to flag new issues and challenges as they arise.

TIP OF THE WEEK

LGNSW is making changes to the delivery of training and events, with programs going online. LGNSW is now providing a range of E-learning modules and online courses. With staff redeployments, it's the perfect time to undertake online Model Code of Conduct for Councillors or online Model Code of Conduct for Staff training courses. For further information, email LGNSW Learning Solutions or call 02 9242 4181.