President's Message 7 February 2020

It was a big agenda for the first board meeting for 2020 today and we greatly appreciated hearing the views of Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock who joined us.

I am also pleased to report some great outcomes in relation to LGNSW representations to governments on a range of matters this week, including:

Calls for rate relief and clean up costs. Refer to the LGNSW media release. The State Government’s decision to fund council rates, and join with the Federal Government to cover the cost of the clean-up for insured and uninsured property owners (residences, small business or primary production properties) will provide some welcome relief to bushfire-affected councils and their communities. These decisions follow representations by several bushfire-affected local councils and LGNSW. For further information, email Shaun McBride LGNSW Chief Economist – Finance and Utilities.

Council involvement in the National Redress Scheme. Save the date. 

LGNSW is planning a one-hour forum and Q&A session for mayors to have their questions answered by the Attorney-General and representatives of the Office of Local Government at 5pm on Thursday 5 March at Parliament House - when many of you will already be in Sydney for the Country Mayors’ Association meeting. Further information will be provided soon, but please save the date for this important forum. For further information, email Damian Thomas LGNSW Strategy Manager - Social and Community.

Addressing your concerns with the NSW Electoral Commission.

Despite LGNSW advocacy resulting in the NSW Government committing to fund the NSW Electoral Commission’s core costs of $19.9 million for local government elections, the direct costs for councils has significantly increased in estimates many of you have received for their 2020 elections. We raised your concerns with  NSW Electoral Commissioner John Schmidt this week. As a result, he now understands the importance of flexibility, particularly for the many councils battling bushfires and drought. I also raised council concerns around the duration of pre-polling and the difficulties experienced by candidates with full-time jobs or caring duties to make time available for the full length of the pre-poll period. The Commissioner has since agreed to:

  • give councils more guidance on ways to reduce elections costs, including use of council buildings, removal/recycling of polling booths etc, and
  • attend regular briefings will LGNSW in the lead-up to September to ensure progress and to address any council concerns. LGNSW will also continue to raise these, and any other concerns, to the Minister for Local Government. For further information, email Damian Thomas LGNSW Strategy Manager.

Ensuring the independence of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC). Refer to the LGNSW submission.

We welcomed the NSW government’s decision to retain and improve the IPC, which is charged with oversight of complex and/or contentious projects deemed State Significant. However, LGNSW maintains it is equally important that councils be consulted ahead of determinations to help ensure the conditions of consent are beneficial to the local community that will be impacted by the development. For further information, email Jane Partridge Strategy Manager - Planning and Transport.

Productivity Commission National Transport Regulatory Reform submission. Refer to the LGNSW submission.

Thank you Cr Stephen Lawrence for representing LGNSW members at the Productivity Commission’s public hearing last week. It’s important the views of councils are given equal consideration, particularly where legislative reform impacts on their role and budgets. Productivity gains sought by industry will not be realised from changes to the permit approval process or the legislation, but through federal and state investment in bringing ageing bridge and road infrastructure up to a standard capable of supporting the movement of restricted access heavy vehicles in an efficient, safe and sustainable way. For further information, email Sanjiv Sathiah Senior Policy Officer - Roads and Transport.