President's Message 15 December

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I’m deeply honoured to have been elected as the new President of Local Government NSW, and am so grateful for the confidence NSW mayors and councillors have shown in me.

As I spoke about at our recent conference, I’m committed to supporting every mayor and councillor - no matter where in NSW they come from or what political stripe they wear - to stand up for the rights of their local community. 

With the support of the new Board and LGNSW staff, I will be working hard to advocate for support and respect for local government by fighting against any future threats of forced mergers, against removing planning decisions from the hands of local councils and to create a useful Rural and Regional Summit. I look forward to working closely with country mayors. 

As a federal election approaches, we must step up the fight for constitutional recognition for local government.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Minister Gabrielle Upton to tell her I am committed to having a positive, collaborative working relationship where we can, but I was clear our sector needs reform and support - and this will be a LGNSW priority for 2018.

I’ve also had the great pleasure of being briefed by our LGNSW staff, and am looking forward to working with them all.

I look forward to travelling and working with people from every region, city and town in NSW to ensure local concerns are taken to the highest levels of government.

LGNSW Board Elections – The AEC declared the election of LGNSW directors. My sincere congratulations to all those elected, and all those who ran. Visit the LGNSW website for more details.

Affordable Housing SEPP 70 – In a win for LGNSW advocacy and affordable housing, the NSW Government has announced the expansion of the affordable housing SEPP to five new Sydney Councils (Randwick City, Inner West, Northern Beaches, City of Ryde and City of Canada Bay). The councils requested the move to make it easier to create rental properties that can be leased to tenants at below-market rates. Read more.

Disaster relief and recovery arrangements – On Tuesday, LGNSW Chief Executive Donna Rygate and senior LGNSW staff attended an Office of Emergency Management (OEM) briefing on proposed reforms to the Australian Government’s Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements. Under the new arrangements due to commence 1 July 2018, councils will receive payments based on council estimates of the cost to restore assets to pre-disaster conditions rather than being reimbursed for actual expenditure. While this will speed up payments to councils, councils’ ability to provide asset data to the standard required will be critical. OEM tells us it will consult widely during initial testing and as the arrangements are rolled out. We’ll keep a close eye on it.

Road Freight Industry Council – On Wednesday, Donna and Immediate Past President Cr Keith Rhoades attended a meeting of the NSW Road Freight Industry Council in Sydney. Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey gave an update including about the draft Freight and Ports Plan released last week. Other key issues included road safety and the alarming statistics about deaths on rural and regional roads, freight-related road and bridge funding initiatives and heavy vehicle access.

Finally, as this is the last edition of the Weekly for 2017 I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of all at LGNSW to wish you a safe and happy holiday season. We’ll be back with the first issue of the new year on 12 January.

Please note LGNSW will be closed from Monday 25 December, reopening Monday 8 January. However, members can call us on 02 9242 4000 for information on how to contact staff on urgent matters.

I look forward to working with you in 2018 to achieve the best possible results for our sector.

Cr Linda Scott, LGNSW President

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Local Government Skills Shortage Survey

The national Local Government Skills Shortage Survey is open until 12 January 2018, giving councils more time to participate.

The survey was commissioned by the National Local Government Workforce Development Group which comprises representatives from each state and territory local government association and provides advice on workforce matters to the Australian Local Government Association.

It aims to identify current and emerging skills needs of the sector and national skills profiles. This information will inform and support state and federal advocacy in workforce capacity matters.

It is recommended that the HR manager or the officer best positioned in your council complete the survey.  Participating councils will receive copies of a report identifying current and future skills shortages and gaps.

Complete the survey online.

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2018 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government

Do you know an innovative, inspirational woman working in local government who deserves recognition?

The NSW Office of Local Government is calling for nominations for the 2018 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government and the closing date (5pm, 21 December) is fast approaching.

The awards celebrate and promote the contribution of women to local government in NSW and aim to encourage women to take on leadership roles in the sector. They also recognise women challenging gender stereotypes and conventions by working towards increasing women's participation in local government roles.

There are five categories in 2018: elected representative, general manager/senior staff member, non-senior staff member, women in non-traditional roles and women in traineeships and apprenticeships. Awards will be presented to metropolitan councils and rural/regional councils in each category.

The Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Women will present the awards at a function to celebrate International Women’s Day on Wednesday 7 March at Parliament House, Sydney.

For more information and to download nomination forms, visit the Office of Local Government website.

LGNSW supports these awards and our Chief Executive is on the judging panel.  Also, don’t forget to make a diary note and register your interest for LGNSW’s International Women’s Day Luncheon on the following day (Thursday 8 March, Doltone house, Sydney).

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LGNSW Tourism Conference 2018 Early Bird Discount

Register for the LGNSW Tourism Conference 2018 (Parkes, 12-18 March) before 22 January to secure an early bird discount.

A popular, annual event in the LGNSW calendar, the LGNSW Tourism Conference provides an opportunity to showcase the contribution of councils to the NSW tourism industry. This year’s theme is ‘Tourism: It all adds up!’.

The conference is a must-attend event for council staff involved in tourism, economic development, marketing, planning and event management.

The conference will take place from 12-14 March 2018 at Parkes Leagues Club, 194 Clarinda Street, Parkes and is co-hosted by Parkes Shire Council.

Highlights include:

  • a half-day session and workshop for Accredited Visitor Information Centre staff on turning visitor information into visitor inspiration
  • an address from Hon Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Tourism and Major Events
  • a panel discussion on new ways to attract business events to your destination
  • a presentation and interactive workshop on running effective marketing campaigns
  • a panel discussion on agritourism.


Parkes Shire boasts a variety of accommodation options, offering comfort and all the facilities you’ll need during your stay. Bus transfers will pick up delegates at selected accommodation venues, for transportation to and from the main venue. Book a room at one of the selected accommodation options.

The 2018 conference is supported by: Destination NSW (official partner), Heritage Near Me program, Office of the Environment and Heritage (elite sponsor), Service NSW (premier sponsor), The Tourism Group (AVIC sponsor), Leonard’s Advertising and the Caravan and Camping Industry Association of NSW (distinguished sponsors), and Regional Express (airline partner).

Visit the LGNSW website from next week for more details and to register or email LGNSW events for more information. 

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Sister City Request

Japan’s Komaki City is seeking a local government area for a sister city relationship.

There are approximately 108 sister city relationships between Japan and Australia.  Sister cities provide many benefits for those communities involved. They help to build understanding between people and cultures; bring together similar interest groups and help to promote trade, economic, cultural, educational and other beneficial exchanges.

Komaki City is particularly seeking student exchanges with its sister city.

Komaki City is located around the centre of Japan, two and a half hours by train from Tokyo. It is an inland city of 150,000 people and is known for its technological industries, natural and historical assets.  It is also known for its figs, grapes, peaches and taro potatoes. 

There are also other areas in Japan seeking sister city relationships.  View the list and find out more on the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations website. To apply, download an application form from the Japan Local Government Centre website.

For further assistance, contact Toshiya Komatsu, Assistant Director, Japan Local Government Centre Sydney Office on 02 9241 5033 or by email.

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Disaster Funding Reforms

The federal government is planning to introduce a new disaster funding model for states and territories from 1 July 2018.

The Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) will replace the current Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). This is part of the federal government’s response the Productivity Commission inquiry into disaster funding arrangements and a major audit of the NDRRA, conducted in 2015.

The rationale for the proposed changes is to reduce the administrative burden, allow for upfront payments and provide flexibility by removing the ‘like for like’ arrangements.

The key change is a shift from an actuals-based model, where funding is based on the actual cost of works completed, to an estimates-based model, where funding is based on upfront estimates of reconstruction costs.

The federal government has indicated that this change will allow for earlier payment of disaster funding for roads and infrastructure repairs, as states and councils will not need to finalise and confirm actual reconstruction costs before making funding claims.

To support the estimates-based model, the federal government will introduce new, revised requirements including changes to:

  • pre-disaster condition assessment
  • cost estimation
  • procurement practices
  • independent technical reviews of significant projects
  • additional financial reporting, assurance and expenditure rules.


The federal government will require states and councils to meet minimum internal control standards, before they can participate in the funding model.

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is liaising with the federal government and stakeholders, and managing state-level changes to ensure NSW is ready when the new arrangements are introduced on 1 July 2018.

Since August 2017 the new arrangements have been tested with 15 NSW councils in collaboration with the Office of Local Government, NSW Roads and Maritime Services and NSW Public Works Advisory.  These consultations are are due to finish in February 2018.

For more information email DRFA Support.

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Help shape the future of sustainable residential development in NSW

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has extended the closing date for its local sustainable housing study survey until 20 December.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) particularly wants to hear from local government and in particular, identify drivers of, and barriers to, sustainable housing development.

According to OEH, council feedback will inform policy development and help identify ways to strengthen sustainable housing development.

OEH is requesting that only one response per council is completed by the most suitable officer (for example, officers responsible for planning, sustainability, or community engagement).

Complete the survey now. For further information contact Ryan Skinner, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

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Proposed Extension of Affordable Housing SEPP 70

The NSW Government has announced a proposal to expand the affordable housing state environmental planning policy to include an additional five local government areas.

The State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 Affordable Housing (Revised Schemes) allows specified councils to prepare an affordable housing contribution scheme for certain precincts, areas or developments associated with an upzoning within their local government area.

Schemes currently operate in the City of Sydney at Green Square, Ultimo-Pyrmont and the Southern Employment Lands.

The NSW Government proposes extending the scheme to:

  • Randwick City
  • Inner West
  • Northern Beaches
  • City of Ryde
  • City of Canada Bay.

An explanation of intended effect for SEPP 70 is currently on exhibition and open for public comment until 31 January 2018. See the Department of Planning and Environment website.

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Proposed Reforms for Buildings with Combustible Cladding

Owners of buildings with combustible cladding will be required to undertake independent fire safety assessments, under reforms proposed by the NSW Government.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) has released a package of proposed reforms requiring owners to:

  • register their building/s with the NSW Government
  • engage an expert to do a fire risk assessment of the cladding.

Councils and Fire and Rescue NSW will have powers to direct owners to register their buildings within a set timeframe if they have not already done so.

The package is on exhibition until 16 February 2018.

It includes:

  • a Draft Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Identification of Buildings with Combustible Cladding) Regulation 2017
  • an Explanation of Intended Effect which proposes amendments to eight state environmental planning policies to limit the use of combustible cladding as exempt development, that is without planning or building approval
  • frequently asked questions.

Councils are encouraged to submit feedback to DP&E by Friday 16 February 2018.

Visit the DP&E website for more information about the proposed reforms. General information about fire safety and external wall cladding is also available on the, NSW Fair Trading and Department of Finance Services and Innovation (DFSI) websites.

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Country Passenger Transport Infrastructure Grant Scheme

Transport for NSW has extended the deadline for applications to its Country Passenger Transport Infrastructure Grant Scheme to 28 February 2018.

The scheme provides subsidies for constructing or upgrading bus stop infrastructure owned and maintained by councils in regional areas.

It supports:

  • more accessible passenger transport, especially better connections between bus stops and surrounding communities
  • an increase in the use of passenger transport in country areas through improved awareness of bus stop locations, kerbside information and improved security
  • the development of minor infrastructure to complement passenger service development.


A total of $3.25 million is available in the 2017/19 funding round.

This is the last opportunity to seek funding through the program for 18 months. (The next round opens in July 2019.)

Apply online by 6pm on 28 February 2018.

For related information see the federal government’s Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport and the Australian Human Rights Commission accessible bus stops guidelines.

For more information about the grant scheme, contact your Transport for NSW Regional Area Manager or the Transport for NSW Grants Officer by email or call 0466 346 240.

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NSW Draft Freight and Ports Plan

The NSW Government has released the NSW Draft Freight and Ports Plan, a key supporting plan of the Future Transport 2056 Strategy released in October.

The draft plan identifies priorities to improve the transport system to manage the growing freight task including investment initiatives and investigations for both Greater Sydney and regional NSW.

It reflects preliminary ideas provided by more than 500 industry and local government stakeholders and is the basis for the next, more detailed round of consultation.

Transport for NSW is organising a series of briefings, webinars and face-to-face meetings with councils and other stakeholders. 

To access the draft Freight and Ports Plan and submit feedback, visit the Future Transport website. Submissions close on 25 March 2018.

LGNSW is preparing a submission on behalf of the sector. Please email your comments and/or copies of your submission to Richard Connors, Senior Policy Officer, Roads and Transport, LGNSW.

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Drinking Water Catchment Pollution Regulation: Council input sought

The Audit Office of NSW is seeking information from councils about the effectiveness of the regulation of water pollution in drinking water catchments, and illegal solid waste disposal by 31 January.

The Audit Office plans to present an audit to Parliament in late June 2018 assessing whether the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) effectively:

  • assesses and monitors water pollution in drinking water catchments for EPA regulated activities defined in the Act
  • manages breaches of environmental protection licences related to water pollution in drinking water catchments
  • manages water pollution incidents, other than licence breaches, in drinking water catchments
  • responds to illegal solid waste disposal through its regulatory role under the Act
  • achieved the priorities and objectives outlined in the NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy 2014-16
  • addressed recommendations made in the June 2017 ICAC report titled “Investigation into a Regional Dumping Squad Officer and Others” which were not asbestos waste specific.

To understand issues councils may be experiencing, the Audit Office is seeking feedback on whether EPA responses have helped councils in relation to:

  • instances of water pollution affecting water quality in council-controlled drinking water catchments or town water supplies
  • illegal solid waste disposal for which EPA has regulatory responsibility.

For more information see the Audit Office’s audit program webpage (scroll to Planning and Environment). Send submissions to submissions@audit.nsw.gov.au by 31 January 2018.

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Learning – Plan Ahead for 2018

Now is a good time to plan ahead for your training and development needs and those of your staff.

LGNSW has published an online Training Calendar listing short courses which will be run between January and June 2018. Full course details with links to register are also available on our website.

LGNSW courses are designed specifically for council employees and elected members. Those currently scheduled include a mix of courses frequently requested by members and new programs that support the implementation of the new Local Government Capability Framework.

Courses will be run in Sydney and selected regional locations. 

The same courses can also be delivered in other locations at different times to individual councils or in partnership with councils nearby. Email LGNSW Learning Solutions for a quote or call 02 9242 4081.

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