Like so many of you, I’m looking forward to the wonderful citizenship ceremonies, Aboriginal and community celebrations that Australia Day brings.
Road safety – With the exceptionally high holiday road toll, LGNSW representatives attended a special road freight industry council meeting on Tuesday to discuss recent heavy vehicle crashes and fatalities. As road manager for the 164,000km local and regional road network (about 90% of the NSW road network by road length) local government has a direct interest. The Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight has asked us all to identify all the things we can do to improve safety on our roads and reduce the road toll.
If you have ideas that need the support of the State or Federal Governments, please let us know so we can support your calls for change. Transport for NSW has posted a short video on its website illustrating just one of the challenges faced by truck drivers and others who share the roads every day – blind spots. Councils are strongly encouraged to share this video via their social networks.
State Debt Recovery Bill 2017 – LGNSW met with representatives from the Australian Institute of Commercial Recovery (AICR) on Tuesday to discuss the NSW Government’s proposed state debt recovery bill. Among other things, the bill provides for the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) to recover debts for public authorities, including giving councils the option to use this service. We know a large proportion of council debt collection is currently contracted out to private firms, and we are advocating that is does not become mandatory for councils to use SDRO’s services. Please let us know if your council or shire has any other issues or concerns you wish us to advocate for on your behalf. The bill, which was introduced into parliament on 21 November, is awaiting its second reading in the Legislative Assembly.
Joint Organisations – LGNSW is continuing to advocate to senior government representatives for extensions for those councils and shires who require them, and that we continue to have strong concerns about signing up to be a part of a JO in the absence of any knowledge of the content of the governing regulation.
Western Region Road and Transport Advocacy – LGNSW supports the aims of the Draft Future Transport Strategy 2056 but has called on the government to commit to improved transport infrastructure and services in rural and regional areas of NSW to improve passenger and freight connectivity within regions and to other centres, including Sydney. This includes funding to address the increasing freight demands and impacts on our local and regional road network, improved local and regional road and rail-based public transport options, and road safety measures to address the road toll in regional areas.
Urgent investment, planning and corridor protection is also required on projects such as the north-south inland rail line and the proposed Bells Line Expressway to address increased freight traffic and to streamline road connections between western and central west NSW and Sydney. LGNSW has also advocated for the ongoing viability of regional aviation services and council-managed regional airport infrastructure, and for continued regional airline access to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport.
Cr Linda Scott