President's Message

Cr Linda Scott

Local Government NSW Summits reach the Hunter 

I had the pleasure of listening to mayors, councillors and council staff in the Hunter this week while in the region for our latest council summit. It was wonderful to congratulate representatives of Hunter Region Joint Organisation – part of the original trial of JOs – on their first ‘official’ meeting as a JO.

More than ever, councils across NSW are working together on key regional strategic priorities, from financial sustainability to recycling to infrastructure maintenance.

Thanks to the terrific crew from Maitland City Council for hosting the summit and to those councils we visited – Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and Maitland.Hunter Summit The Far West summit is next, to be hosted by Cobar Shire Council on Tuesday 3 July. Visit the LGNSW website to find out more about upcoming summits.

Keeping up the pressure on recycling 

We called out the NSW Government’s Council visitsannouncement this week of a ‘new’ grant for councils affected by the Chinese National Sword recycling crisis. Sadly, as many of you have told us, the $9.5 million package announced on Monday isn’t new money, but is rather part of the $47.5 million rescue package announced back in March, which itself was funding already allocated under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

The announcement follows a disappointing state budget which chose not to reinvest a surplus of dollars from the waste levy to address immediate waste and resource recovery challenges.

New waste levy figures

As you have asked us to, Local Government NSW will continue to call for this growing waste levy, collected from industry and councils and handed to the NSW State Government, to be returned to councils to manage waste each year. Only 18 per cent of what councils contributed was given back to local government to manage waste.

Nominate your council for environment awards

There are many excellent examples of councils using innovative ways to solve waste issues and with nominations opening this week for the LGNSW Excellence in the Environment Awards, now is the time to showcase your achievements.

Last year’s winners included Hunter JO (for its work to reduce food waste on university campuses) and Canterbury Bankstown Council (for its project to recover and recycle problem waste materials from multi-unit dwellings).

Awards will be presented across 15 categories including the new Sustainable Infrastructure Award, the prestigious Local Sustainability Award for overall council performance and the Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability, recognising the achievements of an individual.

For more information visit the LGNSW website.

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Personal and Executive Assistants’ Conference

Develop your existing skills, share expertise and network with colleagues at the upcoming LGNSW Personal and Executive Assistants’ Conference (Sydney, 10 August).

Tailored for personal and executive assistants working in local government, the conference consistently receives excellent feedback from participants. For many, it is the only professional development opportunity available during the year.

Sessions will include:

  • the role of the assistant
  • leadership and business acumen
  • working with different management and communication styles
  • the power of mindfulness
  • career development.

Register via the LGNSW website.

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New Focus for the Greater Sydney Commission

The Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) will report directly to the Premier to implement the vision for Greater Sydney as a metropolis of three cities from July 1.

The commission’s new role will be like that of Infrastructure NSW, which oversees the delivery of major infrastructure projects across the state.

A full list of the GSC’s new priorities includes:

  • leading the strategic planning of Greater Sydney, including implementation of the Greater Sydney Region Plan
  • assuring the delivery of key state and local plans
  • implementing the Western Sydney City Deal 
  • leading delivery of the vision for Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula
  • delivering an effective tool for infrastructure planning through the Growth Infrastructure Compact
  • providing leadership on key city-making issues.

GSC will continue to exercise statutory functions under section 3.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).

The government has signalled its intention to transfer local plan-making responsibilities under Section 3.4 of the EP&A Act to the Department of Planning and Environment.

Read more.

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UNSW City Planning Program Work Placements

UNSW is seeking industry partners, including councils, to provide student placements for its Bachelor of City Planning (Hons) program.

The program works with a broad range of partners, linking students to both the public and private planning industry, and the industry to a talented pool of young planners.

Third-year students undertake a one-year full-time mandatory work placement, enabling them to bring hands-on experience back into the classroom.

UNSW is seeking more industry partners to provide these placements, due to a significant increase in the number of students in the program.

Councils interested in providing work experience in late 2018 and early 2019 can find out more by contacting Associate Professor Hoon Han, Program Director, UNSW.

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Containment Netting Fire Safety Alert

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SafeWork NSW has issued a reminder of the fire hazards associated with the containment netting and screening commonly used on construction sites.

It follows a recent, serious fire on a remediation site in Sydney CBD where the containment netting attached to multi-storey scaffolding ignited – the third such incident this year where polymer containment netting has ignited on a construction or demolition site.

The safety alert outlines key considerations and actions to take to minimise risks and is an invaluable resource for:

  • councils
  • builders
  • building contractors
  • scaffolding suppliers/installers
  • manufacturers/suppliers.

For more information email contact details for SafeWork NSW or call 13 10 50.

Please read the alert and share this article with your colleagues using the links below.

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Exhibition Captures the Spirit of Older People

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A learner driver, a gymnast and a ukulele player are among the extraordinary older people who feature in the latest Art of Ageing exhibition now touring regional NSW.

Now in its second year, the exhibition challenges outdated perceptions of ageing and reminds us that everyone’s experience is unique.

It features 30 photographs and stories celebrating the lives of older people in regional NSW by five photographers from Wagga Wagga, Taree, Molong, Mudgee, and Goulburn.

Many local councils are hosting the exhibition in their libraries.

The exhibition is part of the NSW Ageing Strategy 2016-2020.

To find out more visit the NSW Family and Community Services website.

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Australasian Weeds Conference

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The Weed Society of New South Wales, on behalf of the Council of Australasian Weed Societies, will host the 21st Australasian Weeds Conference in Sydney from 9 - 12 September 2018.

The conference is relevant to local government staff interested in the management and mitigation of weeds. The conference will bring together more than 250 delegates from the weeds community in Australasia to discuss new developments and share information about cutting-edge and best weed management practices.

Register now. Early-bird registrations are available until 13 August.

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Saving Our Species Contestable Grants

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The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is inviting applications for its Saving Our Species Contestable Grants Program.

Councils can apply for grants to protect threatened landscape-managed species and threatened ecological communities.

The $9 million program will involve one round of competitive grants to support several seven-year projects. The program and the applicant will resource the first four-and-a-half years of the project, with the remaining two-and-a-half resourced solely by the applicant.

The funding model assumes that for most conservation projects higher costs occur upfront in the first few years, with fewer resources needed when the project transitions to a maintenance phase.

To find out more, register for a one-hour webinar at 2pm on 10 July, or 10am on Thursday 12 July. A recording will be available following the second webinar.

Applications close 13 August 2018.

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Inquiry into the Procurement of Security Services by Councils

The Fair Work Ombudsman has released the findings of its inquiry into the procurement of security services by local government.

The inquiry examined the procurement of security services by 23 local councils across all states and the Northern Territory (eight of which were in NSW).

Of the 23, 14 were identified as having arrangements that were non-compliant with workplace laws.

The report highlights how important it is for councils to monitor compliance within the supply chain and ensure contractors regularly report on their workplace obligations.

The report also sets out a series of recommendations for councils and contractors to improve compliance at all levels of the supply chain.

Councils are reminded that:

  • under section 127 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW) principal contractors are liable for underpayments to employees of a subcontractor
  • organisations involved in the procurement of services at prices that are based on the payment of below-award wages could be found to be in breach of section 550 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

The findings and recommendations provide an opportunity for councils to effect change from the top down by ensuring that the amounts paid in contracts are sufficient for contractors and subcontractors to cover employee entitlements.

The ombudsman will continue to monitor the issues identified in the report and may conduct further enquires.

Read the report on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.

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