President's Message

Cr Linda Scott

LGNSW Win: NSW Government announces review of electoral funding law – In a win for democracy, the NSW Government has acted upon our call for a parliamentary inquiry into the Electoral Funding Act 2018, rushed through the Parliament in May.

On your behalf, LGNSW has consistently argued for a review to resolve significant legislative flaws, including inconsistent expenditure caps on local government candidates, parties and third-party campaigners.

It is vital that elected representatives make submissions to this inquiry by 14 September.

Under the current law, a candidate for Orange City Council would be allowed to spend $0.17 per voter, compared with $0.69 per voter by a candidate for Dubbo Regional Council. In rural Walcha, the allowable spend is $8.71 per voter.

Meanwhile in metropolitan areas, a Campbelltown City Council candidate would be allowed to spend $0.05 per voter, compared with the $0.44 per voter allowed in Waverley.

I thank Special Minister for State Anthony Roberts and the NSW Government for responding to the call and urge councils and community groups to make a submission on the NSW Parliament website.

On your behalf, LGNSW will make representations about the need for change to ensure electoral funding caps are fair and transparent. Should you have views on how the formula should work for your council or ward, it is vital you also make a submission – and call on your community to do the same.

To discuss this matter further, please email Damian Thomas, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW, or call 02 9242 4063. Read more.

A win for councils in Legionella control – Last year we secured a place for LGNSW on the NSW Health Legionella Taskforce Steering Group, ensuring our sector had a say in the drafting of the Public Health Amendment (Legionella Control) Regulation 2018 and accompanying guidelines.

We called for the removal of the fixed fees proposed under the Regulation, arguing that councils should be able to set their own fees and charges for Legionella control functions. I’m pleased to report the Government accepted our proposed amendments and the new Regulation, published on 10 August 2018, provides councils with the flexibility they need to cover their costs. Read more. Contact: Damian Thomas, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW.

Lost opportunity on short-term holiday rental – This week the NSW Upper House passed the Fair Trading (Short-term Rental Accommodation) Bill 2018.

The new laws now in place have a blanket maximum 180-day rental cap in Sydney but – because of our advocacy on your behalf - enable regional and rural areas to impose their own caps of not less than 180 days.

While we welcome councils in regional areas having some say on caps that will apply, we’re disappointed the legislation falls short on delivering a robust regulatory system including statewide registration for all short-term rental accommodation – something we had long argued for.

We will hold the Government to its commitment to review the effectiveness and impacts of the new framework in 12 months’ time and continue to work with stakeholders to ensure NSW has a short-term rental system that benefits us all: owners, visitors, residents and local communities. See our media release. Contact Shaun McBride, Chief Economist, LGNSW, if you have any further questions.

Get behind ALGA's national advocacy The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is about to launch its national federal election advocacy campaign, with the aim of securing a better deal on federal funding for local government from the next federal government. ALGA is calling for upon the next federal government to restore core local government funding of Financial Assistance Grants to at least 1% of commonwealth taxation revenue and add funding for partnership programs where agreed. I sent a message to members yesterday on this and urge you to confirm your council’s support by completing this short form.

Conference motions – All members are encouraged to submit a motion for debate at this year’s annual conference (Albury, 21-23 October) by Sunday 26 August. The LGNSW Board’s motions sub-committee met this week to review submissions so far. Members are also reminded to register the names of their delegates for voting on motions during formal business sessions by 2 October. Find out more on the LGNSW website.

Cr Linda Scott, LGNSW President

P.S. Lastly this week – but by no means least – check out this amazing Librarian Rhapsody video by Shoalhaven library staff! In the spirit of Renew Our Libraries, we’re asking if any other councils can match this or do better? The challenge is on!

Libraries are about so much more than books, as this video, also from Shoalhaven, so beautifully illustrates. Please get involved at Renew Our Libraries and encourage your community to do so too.

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Have Your Say: Local Government Electoral Expenditure Inquiry

All stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into local government electoral expenditure.

The Electoral Funding Act 2018 became law in May following no consultation with local government.

Since this time, LGNSW has consistently called upon the NSW Government to refer this matter to parliamentary committee to resolve significant legislative flaws, including inconsistent expenditure caps on local government candidates, parties and third-party campaigners.

The NSW Government has now referred the adequacy of the Act’s local government expenditure caps to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters for inquiry.

Submissions are invited by 14 September 2018, with hearings expected for October.

Further information, including the terms of reference are available online.

LGNSW will be calling upon the committee to consider a wide range of variables in determining adequate electoral expenditure caps to ensure that the electoral expenditure regime is fair, consistent and promotes the objectives of the Act.

To discuss this matter further, please email Damian Thomas, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW, or call 02 9242 4063.

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New Legionella Control Requirements

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Councils have new regulatory responsibilities under the Public Health Amendment (Legionella Control) Regulation 2018, published on 10 August 2018.

The Regulation requires councils to:

  • receive certificates of legionella risk management plan completion and certificates of audit completion from occupiers of buildings with water cooling towers
  • maintain a register of water cooling systems within their local government area
  • issue unique identification numbers for each cooling tower in their local government area.

 

Visit the NSW Health website to view the guidelines, including forms and factsheets, along with specific information for councils.

As part of NSW Health’s Legionella Taskforce Steering Group, LGNSW ensured councils were able to set their own fees for functions under the new Regulation.

This allows councils the flexibility to appropriately recover the costs of their regulatory and compliance functions based on the different environments and circumstances of each local government authority.

Council staff with responsibility for legionella control and other public health matters are encouraged to join LGNSW’s public health network. To find out more email Damian Thomas, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW.

For general enquiries call NSW Health on 1300 066 055.

To find out more about training email Health Protection NSW or call 02 9424 5918.

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Freight Changes to Support Drought-Affected Farmers

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The NSW Government has introduced an exemption notice so more hay can be transported with every truckload visiting NSW.

The drought assistance dimension exemption notice came into effect on 15 August 2018.

It allows eligible vehicles transporting hay to travel under notice and without a permit – including B-doubles up to 26 metres long – to a maximum height of 4.6 metres high on the approved network and up to 2.83 metres wide on all other approved roads.

Call 1800 952 292 or visit the Roads and Maritime Services website for more information.

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LGNSW Research and Innovation Fund

The LGNSW Research and Innovation Fund aims to support new areas of research, policy development and innovation for the advancement of local government in NSW.

Its purpose is to fill gaps in the evidence base, explore emerging issues, promote informed discussion and debate, and encourage the development of research capacity within the sector.

LGNSW has allocated seed funding of $50,000 for the first year of operations with the intention to leverage this investment by selecting projects of broad sector application which will attract council, industry and university partners.

The program’s milestones are as follows:

  • August – An Advisory Committee comprising LGNSW, council and research representatives will be established to oversee the competitive allocation of funds
  • September – Expressions of interest will be invited from councils identifying projects that relate to research, policy development and innovation for the advancement of local government in NSW
  • October – University partners will be invited to engage with councils to match project concepts with active research experts
  • November – Councils will be invited to match contributions to the list of identified research projects, with the topic attracting the highest council funding commitment selected
  • December – The selected project will be developed into a proposal for the Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme.

Expressions of Interest will be called shortly and councils are invited to visit the LGNSW website for details. Councils interested in proposing or participating in research projects with sector-wide benefit and capacity to attract industry or university partners are invited to contact Sarah Artist, Senior Manager Innovation & Capacity on sarah.artist@lgnsw.org.au or 02 9242 4182.

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Board of the State Archives and Records Authority

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The State Archives and Records Authority of NSW is looking for a suitable local government candidate to fill a vacancy on its Board.

In accordance with the State Records Act 1998, one member of the Board of State Archives and Records Authority must represent local government.

The State Archives and Records Authority is the custodian of the nation’s oldest archive. It makes sure the documentary history of NSW can be accessed and enjoyed for all time.

The state archives collection has a financial value of almost $1 billion and a cultural worth beyond measure.

The Board has nine members representing parliament, the judiciary, state-owned corporations, local government, the private sector and the history profession.

It meets bimonthly to assess and review various policies, processes, standards, codes and disposal of records to ensure they meet the requirements of the Act.

To find out more and apply, visit the NSW Government Boards and Committees Register website.

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Short-Term Rentals

New regulations governing the short-term rental industry passed NSW Parliament this week.

The Fair Trading Amendment (Short-term Rental Accommodation) Act 2018 provides:

  • A new mandatory Code of Conduct which will apply to online booking platforms, letting agents, property managers, hosts and guests. The code will include a complaints system and penalties for breaches to the code.
  • Amendments to strata law to allow owners’ corporations (by a 75 per cent majority) to adopt a by-law to prohibit short-term letting in their building if the apartment is not the principal place of residence of the person who is letting it out.

New planning laws will also be introduced to allow short-term holiday letting under certain conditions.

The Department of Planning and Environment is developing a statewide planning instrument to be placed on exhibition soon.

For further information visit the NSW Fair Trading and Department of Planning and Environment web site.

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Building and Development Certifiers Bill

LGNSW encourages all councils to review and make submissions on proposed new building certification legislation now on exhibition.

LGNSW has been calling on the Government to address long-held concerns with building regulation for many years.

The Government is proposing to replace the Building Professionals Act 2005 (BP Act) – which regulates accredited certifiers – with the Building and Development Certifiers Bill 2018.

The Bill and an accompanying explanatory guide is available on the NSW Fair Trading web site.

This Bill represents a significant rewrite of the current BP Act, promised in September 2016, in response to the 2015 review of building regulation.

Submissions are due to close on 4 September 2018, but given the importance of this legislation, LGNSW President Cr Linda Scott has written to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation requesting an extension to the consultation period.

LGNSW is preparing a submission to address key issues of interest to the sector. To contribute, email comments to Jane Partridge, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW.

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Aluminium Composite Cladding Ban

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The NSW Fair Trading Commissioner has banned certain types of aluminium composite panels.

The ban, which came into force on 15 August 2018, prohibits the use of aluminium composite panels with a core comprised of more than 30 per cent polyethylene by mass, in any external cladding in certain multi-storey buildings.

There are exceptions for products that can pass stringent tests meeting certain Australian Standards.

The ban has been made under the provisions of the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 which commenced on 18 December 2017.

See the ban notice.

Fines apply for contravening the ban. A corporation found to be using a banned building product can be fined up to $1.1 million and individuals, up to $220,000.

The ban applies even if the building product was used in a building before the ban was passed.

For more information, visit the  Fair Trading website.

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Forum: Best Practice Asbestos Management for Councils

LGNSW and Orange City Council will host a free forum on best practice asbestos management on 20 September 2018.

The forum will explore the role councils play in the safe management and regulation of asbestos within their communities.

Councils from NSW are invited to attend along with representatives from the EPA, SafeWork, Fire and Rescue, Planning and Environment, and LGNSW.

See our website for more information, or email Daniel Adler, Asbestos Policy Project Manager, LGNSW.

Register online.

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Vegetation SEPP

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has advised councils they can continue to issue penalty infringement notices (PINs) as a compliance tool.

The advice clarifies uncertainty over the use of PINs for unauthorised clearing, which arose after the SEPP (Vegetation in non-rural areas) was introduced in August 2017.

The introduction of the SEPP replaced the previous arrangements in each standard local environmental plan (section 9.1 and 9.1AA) and created a permit system to regulate the clearing of native vegetation.

The Department has prepared the following advice:

  • clearing vegetation without a permit under the Vegetation SEPP is prohibited, and prohibited development can be enforced by a penalty notice.
  • DPE believes councils can continue to enforce vegetation clearing through the issuing of a penalty notice using section 4.3 of the recent Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Act 2017. Councils should continue to take into account all relevant considerations, including appropriate enforcement mechanisms, before commencing any enforcement action.

Further information is available on the Department’s website. See Frequently Asked Questions.

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Managing Flying-Foxes

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The Flying-Fox Grant Program has assisted 25 councils to manage flying fox camps from 2016 to 2018.

LGNSW was entrusted by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to administer this $1 million program to assist NSW councils to:

  • implement emergency flying-fox camp management measures where there were significant community impacts
  • prepare flying-fox camp management plans
  • implement approved actions in flying-fox camp management plans

View grants awarded and project details on the LGNSW website.

For further information Chris Hudson, Flying-Fox Project Manager, LGNSW or call 02 9242 4039.

Photo: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

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Inclusive Play Space Guidelines

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Councils are encouraged to comment on new Everyone Can Play in NSW design guidelines, which aim to make play spaces across NSW more inclusive.

The guidelines are intended to provide a clear, practical reference for creating inclusive play spaces that are accessible to everyone in the community.

The guidelines are based around three simple questions: Can I get there? Can I play? Can I stay?

Inclusive play spaces should be easy to access, easy to move around in, provide a range equipment and challenges, and have appropriate amenities in a comfortable environment.

With more than 6,000 play spaces in NSW managed by local government, it’s important councils have their say.

The guidelines are on exhibition until 21 September 2018.

For more information and to make a submission visit the NSW Department of Planning and Environment exhibitions page.

Photo: Proludic.

 

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Young Achievers Awards

Nominations are open for this year’s Awards Australia Young Achiever Awards which acknowledge, encourage and promote the positive achievements of young people up to 29 years of age.

Councils are encouraged to nominate young people, including youth council members, across the following categories:

  • real estate leadership 
  • Aboriginal education
  • academic achievement
  • science and technology
  • early childhood educator 
  • youth development
  • innovation
  • community service
  • NSW Deputy Premier’s Regional Achiever Award

Winners in each category will receive $1,000 cash.

Visit the Awards Australia website to find out more and make a nomination (by 1 November 2018).

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White Balloon Day

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Support Braveheart’s White Balloon Day (7 September) by encouraging your community to break the silence on child sexual assault and make a commitment to protect children.

Visit the White Balloon Day website to download resources include messaging guides, digital materials, posters and other tools to help share the message.

Councils hosting events for While Balloon Day are encouraged to register them on the Braveheart website.

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Supporting Councils to Improve Infrastructure Resilience

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A summary of the NSW Government’s NSW Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy 2018 is now available online.

The NSW Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is seeking feedback via an online survey on the types of resources councils need to build or enhance infrastructure, and organisational and community resilience.

Survey

The survey should take 10 - 20 minutes to complete and closes on Friday 31st August 2018.

Complete it now.

Webinar

OEM will also host a webinar to discuss the strategy on Thursday 23 August, from 1:30-3:30pm.

Call in details can be found on the Emergency NSW website.

For more information and to register for the webinar, email Darren Boulet.

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Local Water Utilities Policy Advisory Group

The LGNSW Board is establishing an advisory group of elected representatives to provide advice on policy and advocacy matters impacting local water utilities (LWUs), following a resolution at our 2017 annual conference.

Key features of the LWU Policy Advisory Group, as set out in its terms of reference, are:

  • Its primary purpose is to provide LGNSW with input and advice, from an elected representative perspective, on policy and advocacy matters impacting LWUs.
  • It is not a decision-making body.
  • Its membership is limited to 10 elected representatives (including the chair).
  • Membership includes representatives from councils with LWUs that are not currently represented on the Board.
  • The Board’s representative on the Water Directorate’s executive committee serves as chair.
  • LGNSW provides administrative support.
  • The chair of the Water Directorate’s executive committee, or their delegate, is an observer.
  • The group meets on an ‘as needs’ basis, with business primarily transacted remotely.
  • No remuneration or reimbursement of costs is payable to members.

The Board is now seeking nominations from councils with LWUs that are not currently represented on the Board, to join the advisory group.

Nominations must be made online by Friday 14 September 2018.

Applicants should have some knowledge and understanding of water and/or sewer services.

For more information email Mark Hely, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW.

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Increase in General Manager and Senior Staff Remuneration

A 2.5 per cent increase has been granted to the total value of remuneration packages payable to general managers and senior staff engaged under the Office of Local Government (OLG) Standard Contracts.

Clause 8.5 of the OLG’s Standard Contracts of Employment for General Managers and Senior Staff provides that: “On each anniversary of the commencement date, the total remuneration package will be increased by a percentage amount that is equivalent to the latest percentage amount increase in remuneration for senior executive office holders as determined by the Statutory and Other Officers Remuneration Tribunal”.

The 2018 determination of the Statutory and Other Officers Remuneration Tribunal is to provide an increase of 2.5 per cent to the remuneration package ranges for executive office holders. 

The effect of clause 8.5 of the OLG Standard Contracts and the 2018 determination is that the remuneration packages of general managers and senior staff employed under the Standard Contracts are to be increased by 2.5 per cent on the anniversary of contract commencement dates falling between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019.

Following the 2018 determination, as at 1 July 2018 the minimum total remuneration package payable under s.332(2)(b) of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) is $187,900.00 per annum.

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