President's Message 5 September 2019

SPOTLIGHT ON WATER AND DROUGHT – Thank you to the mayors, councillors and council staff from far and wide who joined us in Albury this week to hear from policy makers and key industry stakeholders at LGNSW’s annual Water Management Conference. Set against the backdrop of the worst drought in living memory, the challenge of providing communities with ongoing supplies of safe water has never been more relevant. We appreciate how badly the drought is impacting councils, water utilities and communities and we know rural and regional councils are doing it particularly tough, with water shortages posing a threat to the very existence of some smaller communities across NSW. Meanwhile, in major cities there’s still time to plan and invest wisely.
 
Thanks to NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey for giving the opening address at the conference, and to the Shadow Federal Minister Terri Butler and Shadow State Minister Clayton Barr for attending to speak with delegates. Thanks also to Mayor Kevin Mack and AlburyCity Council for being such fantastic hosts. 

We are proud that with your help we have been able to secure a commitment from the NSW Government to protect local ownership and management of council-owned water utilities. We're really pleased to have convinced the government to drop its cost-benefit criteria for the $1b Safe and Secure program and are continuing to fight for more emergency funding, not just for water, but to help maintain local economies. We also welcome Minister Pavey’s recent announcement that the government will invest $78m for water initiatives to help drought-affected communities facing water shortages and restrictions in the Macquarie Valley.  

If your council needs LGNSW support to manage drought issues, or to discuss water issues in more detail contact LGNSW Senior Policy Officer Mark Hely.
 
ADVOCACY WIN: MUSIC FESTIVALS REPORT ADDRESSES COUNCILS’ CONCERNS – In a win for LGNSW advocacy, the music festivals regulation inquiry has published a report closely reflecting the issues raised in our submission. The report recognises that: consultation on new regulations was inadequate; regulatory cost increases for festivals are unsustainable; and councils play an important role in regulating, organising and supporting festivals. 
 
Recommendations of the report include: establishing a roundtable for music festivals regulation involving NSW Government, local government, music industry and harm minimisation experts (to be in place before the upcoming music festival season); and based on broad industry support, disallowing the new music festival regulations and putting in place immediate measures to assist the industry. Contemporary music and festivals contribute enormously to the cultural and economic vibrancy of NSW. Councils are ready to work with the NSW Government to make workable regulations without creating new problems. To find out more or discuss further, contact LGNSW Senior Policy Officer Elizabeth Robertson.
 
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS UPDATE – The Statutory and Other Officers Remuneration Tribunal recently handed down its 2019 determination. For full details see our Weekly article and for industrial relations support email our dedicated team.
 
COUNTDOWN TO CONFERENCE – Finally, with just over a month to go until the 2019 LGNSW Annual Conference (Warwick Farm, 14-16 October) the LGNSW Board’s Motions Sub-Committee is working through the more than 200 submissions received so far. Motions for debate will be listed at the front of this year’s business paper, while other motions – assessed as consistent with current policy and actions – will be listed at the back. If you haven’t already done so, register online now or submit your motion by 16 September (midnight) and we’ll see you in October!

Photo: Federal MP for Griffith and Shadow Minister for Environment and Water Terri Butler with LGNSW Chief Executive Tara McCarthy at this week's LGNSW Water Management Conference.

Terri Butler MP and LGNSW CE Tara McCarthy