President's Message

Cr Linda Scott

A LOCAL GOVERNMENT VIEW ON THE FEDERAL BUDGET – As we head into a Federal Election, it was good to see several positive announcements for councils in this week’s federal budget and budget reply.

Government commitments:

•    additional funding for Roads to Recovery, road safety and bridges renewal
•    $206m for regional community infrastructure
•    $4b over five years to help ease urban congestion
•    $453.1m over two years to extend National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education
•    $5.9b to extend the Commonwealth Home Support Program by two years, originally scheduled to end in June 2020. 

Disappointingly, while the budget included a $100m environment restoration fund, it’s unclear how much will be available to address the nation’s escalating waste and recycling crisis and while the additional infrastructure funding is welcome, it falls far short of what’s needed to fix local roads and bridges in NSW.

The Opposition’s budget in reply commitments include:

•    a $60m National Recycling Fund and climate change action
•    transport plans and projects in every state
•    permanent funding for preschool programs for three and four-year-olds
•    funding for TAFE apprenticeships
•    restoring the health of the Murray-Darling Basin
•    investment to address mobile phone blackspots
•    support for education, health and the National Disability Insurance agency.

I know you are all working with us to advance our sector’s national election priorities as outlined in ALGA’s 2019 Federal Election Initiatives ahead of the federal election.

NEW CABINET ANNOUNCED – We welcome new cabinet appointments, particularly those who will play important roles in helping to deliver key policy priorities:

•    Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock, who brings local government experience, having served as a Shoalhaven councillor for 17 years
•    Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes, who will be administering the Local Government Act 1993
•    Water, Property and Housing Minister Melinda Pavey
•    Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres
•    Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean
•    Western NSW Minister Adam Marshall
•    Skills and Tertiary Education Minister Dr Geoff Lee.

We look forward to forging strong, working relationships with them all. We also congratulate Peter Primrose on his continuing role as Shadow Minister for Local Government. 

NEW ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE NSW PUBLIC SERVICE– From 1 July 2019, there will be significant changes to the structure of the NSW public service, most importantly, the Office of Local Government and the Office of Environment and Heritage will be abolished and their functions absorbed into a new Planning and Industry Department, with heritage and arts going to the Department of Premier and Cabinet. 

From 1 July 2019 the responsibilities of the Chief Executive of the Office of Local Government and the Chief Executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage will be transferred to the Secretary of Planning and Industry Jim Betts.

We will continue to advocate that councils are provided with the resources they need to support their communities.

ENGAGING WITH MEMBERS  – We enjoyed a visit to Campbelltown City Council on Wednesday and we’re looking forward to our next council summit, which will take place in Temora on Wednesday 8 May, with a focus on rural health. Register online.

SEEKING EXTENSIONS FOR LOCAL STRATEGIC PLANNING STATEMENTS – In response to councils’ concerns, I have written to Lucy Turnbull in her capacity as Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission and the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment to request that the deadline requiring councils in the Greater Sydney Region to complete their local strategic planning statements by 1 July 2019 be extended.

Councils have told us that the late release of information by the Department of Planning and Environment has limited effective engagement with communities – and more time is needed to fully integrate study findings. We will keep you updated on the progress of this request.

Photos: Visit to Campbelltown City Council; LGNSW Big Ideas Forum held in Sydney on Thursday.
 

Campbelltown

 

Big Ideas

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Cemeteries Reporting Exemption Extended

The Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW Board has extended a current exemption (until December 2020) for cemeteries operated by councils on Crown land, on the basis that councils already comply with extensive reporting requirements under the Local Government Act 1993 and relevant legislation.

Under the exemption, cemeteries operated by councils are not required to report under part 5 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013, which includes:

  • strategic plans
  • plans of management
  • annual reports and performance information.

For further information, visit the CCNSW website

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$220m for Stronger Regional Connectivity

The federal government will invest $220m in regional telecommunications so Australians living outside major cities can stay reliably connected.

The investment announced during Thursday night’s budget, is part of the government's response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review which examined the communication needs of people living in the bush.

The Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package includes:

  • $160m for two new rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program
  • $60m for a new Regional Connectivity Grants Package, including a digital tech hub to improve digital literacy.

For more information see our budget blog.

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2019 Regional Tourism Awards

Tourism operators and event organisers, including councils, can achieve recognition and promote their region by entering the 2019 Regional Tourism Awards.

The awards – presented across several categories – reward businesses that have demonstrated significant achievement throughout the year, showcased a variety of tourism products and delivered outstanding service to visitors.

Nominations are invited from applicants across the six destination networks in NSW: Country and Outback; North Coast; Riverina Murray, Southern NSW, Sydney Surrounds North and Sydney Surrounds South.

Find out more and apply online by Friday 24 May 2019.

Winners will progress to the NSW State Tourism Awards and possibly the Australian Tourism Awards.

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Golf NSW

Golf NSW is inviting expressions of interest from councils interested in co-hosting a regional qualifying tournament for the NSW Open.

Golf NSW oversees more than 200 amateur events annually, many of them state titles, attracting tourists to host regions, with associated economic benefits.

The NSW Open is a tier one championship, carrying world ranking points, and is traditionally the lead-in event for the Australian Open Golf Championship.

Previous winners include Greg Norman, Craig Parry, Peter Lonard, Ian Baker-Finch, Jack Newton, Peter O’Malley.

Regional qualifiers generate interest from golfers across NSW and Australia and deliver increased visitation and tourism dollars to the local communities where the tournaments are staged.

For more information email Bernard Bratusa, Head of Government and Corporate Relations, Golf NSW, or call 9505 9105/0420 581 225.

Golf NSW is the governing body for amateur golf in NSW and provides the central forum for matters such as golf rules, course rating, handicapping, competition conditions, inter-club, district and interstate events and a host of legal, financial, industrial and administrative issues.

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Emergency Response Fund

The federal government announced a $3.9b emergency response fund during Thursday night’s budget, allocating up to $150m per year for natural disaster recovery and response initiatives, above and beyond existing funding for severe and catastrophic disasters.

The new fund will not affect current disaster recovery funding arrangements.

It will be managed by the Department of Finance in partnership with Emergency Management Australia and is scheduled to begin on 1 October 2019.

Consultation with state and territory governments, and councils, will begin soon.

For more information see the Minister for Home Affairs’ media release.

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Regulation of Underground Petroleum Storage Systems

From 1 September 2019, councils will be responsible for regulating underground petroleum storage systems, such as those at service stations, in their local areas.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will retain regulatory responsibility for systems at licensed premises (operated by public authorities) and those in the unincorporated area in western NSW.

The EPA is preparing information to assist councils including:

  • guidance on site management
  • training for council officers
     

Register for email updates.

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Conservation Agreements Webinar

Councils are invited to join the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust for a webinar to discuss conservation agreements and other land management options to achieve local biodiversity outcomes (Wednesday 10 April, 2.30-4pm)

Following the introduction of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the trust is administering conservation agreements, which some councils have included in conditions of consent for development.

The webinar will include a 30-minute presentation followed by 45 minutes of questions and answers.

Places are limited.

Register online.

Councils can provide feedback on the proposed guidelines via email by 29 April.

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National Heavy Vehicle Law Review Underway

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The National Transport Commission is seeking feedback on its review of the National Heavy Vehicle Law from now until February 2020.

For more information on the process and a timeline of topics for consultation, visit the commission’s website.

The first issues paper – examining whether risk-based regulation is a pathway towards better regulation – is open for comment unil Friday 31 May, 2019.

LGNSW will be making a submission on this issues paper and would welcome input from councils.

For further information contact Sanjiv Sathiah, LGNSW Senior Policy Officer, Roads and Transport or call 02 9242 4073.

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Code of Accounting Practice and Financial Reporting Update

The final Code of Accounting Practice and Financial Reporting (update 27) is available for preparing councils’ 2018-19 financial statements.

A joint organisation supplement to the code is available for the period from proclamation to 30 June 2019.

Visit the NSW Office of Local Government website for more information.

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