President's Message

Cr Linda Scott

Exposing flaws in electoral funding law – This week, we called for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into the Electoral Funding Act 2018 – rushed through the NSW Parliament in May – after receiving legal advice which shows the Act could make elections less fair and may be unconstitutional.

The advice identified a series of flaws and potential unintended consequences flowing from the new Act and we are calling upon on the NSW Government to make good on its promise to refer the legislation to the joint standing committee for review. The Act introduces new expenditure caps on local government candidates, parties and third-party campaigners but applies complex formulas that do not provide for consistent campaign expenditure across the state. There is no consistency in the application of caps and an obvious disparity in allowable funding – not only between metro and regional areas, but within those areas themselves.

LGNSW supports a move to clearer, cleaner elections at all spheres of government. The new Act fails to provide this. It’s time for the Government to make good on its commitment and refer this to a joint standing committee for review. See our media release and today’s Sydney Morning Herald article. To discuss the changes or raise any concerns, email Damian Thomas, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW.

Controlling graffiti – Graffiti costs councils millions of dollars annually in cleaning and repair and seriously affects local amenity.  For some time, we’ve been pushing for legislation that enables councils to enforce graffiti removal from private commercial properties.  Earlier this year we asked the NSW Government to review the Graffiti Control Act 2008. I am very glad to advise that the Attorney General has now agreed to start a review this year.

Celebrating and developing skilled assistants – Executive and personal assistants gathered in Sydney today for the LGNSW Executive and Personal Assistants’ Conference –  an annual event to inspire and empower executive and personal assistants, and develop their careers. The best executive assistants are indispensable to their managers and councils and it was my great pleasure to speak to delegates and thank them for their wonderful contributions to local government. To find out more about LGNSW’s development programs email Learning Solutions.

Standing up for our libraries – The initial response to our Renew Our Libraries advocacy initiative has been amazing with a flood of media coverage and proactive support from councils throughout NSW. Let’s keep the momentum going by sharing and liking posts on social media, spreading the word in your communities and encouraging people to sign the petition. For more information email Margaret Kay, Strategy Manager - Social and Community, LGNSW, or call 02 9242 4082.

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Stronger Communities Funding

Councils are encouraged to contact their local MPs to discuss grants for projects that improve community participation and contribute to vibrant communities.

The federal government is making a further $22.5 million available through the Stronger Communities Programme for projects such as upgrades to community halls and new bike paths, or for purchasing essential equipment for the local State Emergency Service.

Each of the 150 federal electorates will receive $150,000 to allocate towards successful projects, with a maximum of 20 projects per electorate.

In consultation with their community, federal MPs have been asked to identify potential applicants and projects in their electorates and invite them to apply for grants.

Grants will cover up to 50 per cent of project costs. Organisations may be approved for grants ranging from $2,500 to $20,000.

Projects should be completed by 30 June 2019.

For grant guidelines and eligibility requirements visit the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website.

Applications close 11 October 2018.

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Community Sport Infrastructure Grants

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Sport Australia is inviting applications for community sport infrastructure grants.

Announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget, the program provides grants of up to $500,000 for small to medium scale sporting infrastructure projects to encourage greater participation in sport and physical activity.

Successful projects could include:

  • upgrades to playing surfaces
  • building or upgrading change rooms, particularly for girls and women and officials’ areas
  • external entry/exit accessible amenities
  • improved sports lighting and safety lighting
  • improvements to ground and court capacity
  • improvements to spectator amenities.

Applications close on Friday 14 September 2018.

For more information and to apply, visit the Sport Australia website.

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Australian Universal Design Conference

The Australian Universal Design Conference in Brisbane (4-5 September) themed ‘Home and away: creating inclusion everywhere’, will focus on housing and tourism.

It provides an opportunity for council staff to learn about how universal design benefits the whole community.

With the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and policy changes planned for older people, there’s a need for councils to embrace the principles of universal design in their daily work.

Universal Design is an international movement recognised by the World Health Organisation, and the United Nations through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

Chris Maclean, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW, will speak at the conference on the topic of ‘Everyone’s business: LGNSW’s inclusive tourism online learning course.

The conference is co-hosted by the Centre for Universal Design Australia and COTA Queensland.

To find out more visit the Universal Design Conference website.

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Support for Drought-Impacted Towns

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With the increasing impact of drought across regional NSW, local water utilities are reminded they are eligible for financial assistance for water carting and emergency infrastructure during town water supply emergencies. 

This assistance, which is available on request from the Minister for Regional Water – is separate from the long-term infrastructure funding available under the Safe and Secure Water Program.

Local water utilities are advised to contact their regional Department of Industry - Water representative as soon as they are aware of a potential water supply emergency.

Staff from the department can provide useful advice and assistance on emergency infrastructure needs, water carting planning and funding opportunities.

The NSW Government has also established DroughtHub – a one-stop resource containing information on an extensive range of services and support for primary producers, their families and communities to prepare for and manage drought.

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Australian Water Association Conference

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The focus of this year’s Australian Water Association NSW State Conference (Newcastle, 16-17 August) will be risk, resilience and research.

Topics will include:

 

Download the program and visit the Australian Water Association website for more information.

    Contact: Tanya Cameron, NSW/ACT Branch Manager, Australian Water Association.

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    New Accounting Standards

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    The NSW Office of Local Government (OLG) has issued guidelines to councils on transitioning to the new Australian Accounting Standards.

    The following accounting standards will soon apply to councils' financial statements:

    • AASB 9 Financial Instruments
    • AASB 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers
    • AASB 16 Leases
    • AASB 1058 Income of Not-for-Profit Entities.

    In order to achieve consistency and comparability OLG has determined a position on Australian Accounting Standards Board options which all councils must adopt on transition to the new standards.

    OLG has prepared a guidance paper to provide councils with specific direction on adopting new standards.

    For more information email Laura Love at the OLG.

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