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.
• 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.