President's Message

Cr Linda ScottDelivering advocacy wins on funding; drought; planning and the creative arts.

With the NSW State Election in fewer than 30 days, we’re focussing all our efforts on seeking commitments from all the NSW State Election candidates for the 12 priorities you have asked us to represent you on.

I’m proud to tally up the achievements from this week – with thanks to all of you who are acting on our shared local government priorities, whether moving resolutions through councils, speaking to your local candidates, or speaking with local media or community members. 

Together, we are achieving the changes that local government and our communities need.

FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY ADVOCACY WIN: Councils’ concerns over election costs acknowledged – We welcome the NSW Government’s approval of an Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review of the costs of conducting local government elections in NSW, seeking to minimise the financial burden on councils and ratepayers. The NSW Government intends to extend the deadline for councils to decide whether to administer their own elections or enter into an arrangement with the NSW Electoral Commission to 1 January 2020.

This follows a recent amendment to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 authorising general managers to determine the days/hours of operation for pre-polling, for councils that administer their own elections. We continue to call for the NSW Government to reduce pre-polling to one week – whether elections are administered by councils or the NSW Electoral Commission. For more information email LGNSW’s Shaun McBride or Damian Thomas.

DROUGHT ADVOCACY WIN: We have been making strong state and federal representations for improved support for drought-affected councils and communities following conference motions led by Bourke, Bland and Gunnedah shire councils. And we had a huge win this week with Barnaby Joyce, Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Recovery writing to us, supporting our position and acknowledging the pressure on councils. He copied his letter to federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud, so expect some action! We’ll keep you posted.

PLANNING ADVOCACY WIN: Winning back local control over short-term holiday letting – In a huge win for councils concerned about short term letting in our sector, NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts has acknowledged a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to short-term holiday letting doesn’t work. We welcome that Planning Minister Roberts has asked Byron Shire Council to prepare a proposal based on local conditions. Given this concession to Byron Shire, we will advocate to ensure other councils are provided the same entitlements. Please contact Jane Partridge if this applies to you.

PLANNING ADVOCACY WIN: Labor commitment – We welcome Labor’s intention to scrap the medium density housing code if elected in March. While acknowledging the need for diverse housing, we have consistently lobbied both sides of politics, over a long time, that a cookie-cutter approach does not deliver well-designed housing compatible with local character. Read more in our media release.

CREATIVE ADVOCACY WIN: Focus on music and arts pays off – LGNSW welcomes a commitment from Labor to increase annual funding for contemporary music from $4 million to $35 million if elected. We have advocated strongly for more music and arts funding, calling for a state-wide funding program – of at least $22 million to match that available in Victoria – in our submission to the 2018 Inquiry into the Music and Arts Economy in NSW. As councils are both festival organisers and regulators, LGNSW has also called for more consultation about the NSW Government’s proposed festival regulation. See our media release.

Finally, we’re delighted to welcome our new Chief Executive Tara McCarthy to LGNSW this week. I look forward to introducing Tara to our Western NSW colleagues over the next few days at the Western Division Conference in Bourke and to the rest of you throughout the year.

PS Has your council endorsed our Save our Recycling campaign? You can move a motion to do so, and register for our election forum.

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Floodplain Management Grants

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is calling for applications through the Floodplain Management Grants Program for the 2019-20 financial year to support projects that manage flood risk.

Funding is provided over four stages:

  • preparation of a flood study (including data collection)
  • preparation/review of a floodplain risk management study and plan
  • investigation, design and/or feasibility study for works identified in a floodplain risk management plan (this stage must be undertaken for projects likely to exceed a total cost of $500,000)
  • implementation of actions identified in a floodplain risk management plan, including but not limited to:
    • structural works such as levees, detention basins, flood gates and flow conveyance improvements (if these are extensive works requiring a high level of funding, they should be broken into stages)
    • flood warning systems
    • evacuation management
    • upgrades of flood assets that have reached the end of their design life
    • voluntary house raising
    • voluntary purchase.

For more information and contact details for your regional office, visit the OEH website.

Applications close at 5pm on 20 March 2019.

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Monetary Benefit Orders

The financial advantage gained from breaking environment laws can now be stripped from offenders through monetary benefit orders.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) protocol for calculating monetary benefits has been prescribed for use by courts to determine the amount of money offenders gain by committing offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO).

The protocol was first published on the EPA’s website in September 2018.

The gazetted version includes minor amendments including a shortened title, glossary updates, acknowledgement of partners, and makes it clear the document is prescribed under cl.101A of the POEO regulation.

Courts will decide whether to impose monetary benefit orders after offenders have been convicted depending on the facts, circumstances and available evidence of cases.

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Inclusive Play Space Guidelines Released

Following a six-month exhibition period, the NSW Government has released guidelines and launched a new website – Everyone Can Play – to support the planning and development of inclusive play spaces to ensure everyone gets the chance to enjoy quality, outdoor spaces.

Councils and designers are encouraged to use the guidelines to renew, renovate or redesign existing parks and grounds into inclusive play spaces.

The initiative is supported by $20 million in grants over the next five years.

The first round of funding is finalised, with 30 councils sharing $4 million in matched funding to deliver 34 projects – but we’ll let you know when the next round opens.

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Parking Signs Portal

All road users, including pedestrians, can now report confusing, faulty or damaged parking signs via a new Service NSW online portal.

Reports will be referred to relevant authorities, including councils, for review and action where necessary.

Access the portal.

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