President's Message

Cr Linda ScottKEEPING THE GOVERNMENT TO ITS COMMITMENTS – Congratulations to re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. We look forward to working with the Australian Local Government Association and all of you to ensure we hold them to their commitments that affect our sector and communities.  

The Australian Local Government Association’s election priorities remain central to continuing advocacy at a federal level, and we will continue to advocate for these when meeting with the re-elected Government. Read more.

PREPARING FOR THE STATE BUDGET – On your behalf, LGNSW is preparing a submission ahead of the June state budget. We will focus on the financial commitments the government made in response to our 12 election priorities and how they translate into funded programs, alongside the wide range of other priorities from resolutions from the 2018 annual conference. Should you have important points for us to raise or questions, please contact Mark Hely, LGNSW Senior Policy Officer. 

CELEBRATING NATIONAL RECONCILIATION WEEK – It’s so lovely to see councils holding so many cultural and community activities to celebrate National Reconciliation Week 2019 (27 May to 3 June). This year we are commemorating two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey – the 1967 referendum to include Aboriginal peoples in the census and the anniversary of the High Court Mabo native title decision. This year’s theme is Grounded in Truth – Walk Together with Courage. Read more about local government’s involvement in our media release, help spread the word with these resources and mention @lgnsw on Twitter when promoting your events.

CHANGES AT LG SUPER – In line with our conference resolution, LGNSW is working to achieve a positive future for Local Government Super. We have introduced regular Board briefings from Local Government Super and welcome that they are recruiting for an independent chair and, soon after, a chief executive for the fund. In line with our new policy all appointments to the Local Government Super Board from Local Government NSW are recruited through a transparent, merit-based selection process open to all councillors of member councils, advertised in our newsletter. 

We welcome that Local Government Super will also consult with members about the timing of contributions to the Defined Benefit Scheme and will offer choices about how they should be structured. As endorsed at the 2018 LGNSW Annual Conference, we have also asked Local Government Super to:

  • undertake an independent review of the investment strategy for the Retirement and Defined Benefits Schemes, and
  • cease requiring additional employer superannuation contributions in relation to employees belonging to the Retirement Scheme and Defined Benefit Scheme as soon as the liabilities and assets of those schemes are deemed to be fully vested and comply with the minimum acceptable risk level requirements set by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

We will continue to work with all our associated entities to ensure transparency and best practice governance standards are upheld. If you have any issues or concerns, please contact Susan Budd, LGNSW Corporate Counsel & Company Secretary.

INQUIRY CLEARS BLUE MOUNTAINS COUNCIL OVER ASBESTOS CLAIMS – Congratulations to the elected representatives and staff at Blue Mountains City Council, who have been cleared of asbestos management issues after an inquiry prompted by former Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton. Commissioner Richard Beasley noted that the council’s process of engaging Clyde & Co and McCullough Robertson was prudent and appropriate, that there had never been a conflict of interest, and that the council’s response to the allegations of a conflict was reasonable and appropriate. 

COUNCIL VISITS – Thank you to the mayors, councillors and staff from Parkes, Lachlan, Bland, Weddin, Forbes, and Cabonne councils (pictured) for meeting with us this week. 

Council Visits
Share

Federal Government commitments

In the lead-up to the federal election, the Morrison Government made several commitments relevant to local government. LGNSW urges all councillors to support the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) All Politics Is Local campaign and council staff to note new opportunities for funding and support.

ALGA’s 12 campaign priorities and the new government’s commitments related to them are below.

1. Repair federal funding to local government – The Government will maintain financial assistance grants, but we must continue to press for these to be increased to a reasonable level (one per cent of Commonwealth tax revenue).

2. Realise the productive potential of Australia’s freight routes Our Plan for Regional Australia mentions finalising the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy with all tiers of Government.

3. Boost safety on local roads – Funding includes:

  • $4bn in 2019/20 (under the Urban Congestion Fund) to improve flow, safety and network efficiency
  • $275m over 11 years towards improved road safety under the Heavy Vehicle and Safety Program (we will press for some of this to be made available to local governments)
  • $6m for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for engineering assessments for local government roads and $6m for the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (once again, some may be available for local government)
  • $2.6m for the Australian Road Research Board to help local governments with road asset management and maintenance, including new technical manuals addressing specific local government challenges
  • $2.2m over 11 years for the Roads to Recovery, Black Spot and Bridges Renewal programs
  • $5.9 million for a new Federal Office of Road Safety to drive reforms, improve coordination and performance reporting, and promote road safety.

4. Promote equitable access to community services – The Government’s Our Plan for a Stronger Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Sector includes $20m for councils to improve, maintain or build new boating, marine rescue, fishing and camping facilities.

5. Protect communities from the impacts of natural disasters – Natural Disaster Resilience Funding – $130.5 million over five years to reduce risk and impact of natural disasters – was included in the budget.

6. Support communities with their climate change response – Funding of $3.5b over 15 years is earmarked for a climate solutions plan (mainly for Snowy Hydro) and $2b for a new fund to support revegetation of degraded land, waste reduction, and energy efficiency.

7. Promote healthier communities – Sport-related announcements included $19.6m for change room upgrades and to expand the national Good Sports program.

8. Foster indigenous wellbeing and prosperity – The Government will support Indigenous Australians by:

  • redeveloping Closing the Gap targets
  • providing $7.3m to codesign models to improve local and regional decision-making and options for constitutional recognition, and
  • providing $5m for a scoping study and consultation to progress development of a national resting place.

9. Support communities on their digital transformation journey – The Plan for Regional Australia includes a promise of $220m over four years to improve regional communications ($60m for a regional connectivity program and $160m for two additional rounds of the mobile Black Spots Program).

10. Strengthen Australia’s circular economy – There will be support for recycling through:

  • $100m for an Australian recycling investment fund to help manufacturers become more energy efficient
  • $20 million for a product stewardship investment fund
  • $3.6m to support a national recycling app and set up an online marketplace to buy and sell waste
  • $20m to research opportunities to recycle plastic
  • $100m for a fund (possibly grants-based) to clean up coasts, oceans and waterways, protect threatened and migratory species, increase recycling and reduce waste.

11. Support local government’s work in addressing affordable housing and homelessness issues – Existing initiatives include:

  • investing over $7b in housing funding and homelessness services, with the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement
  • providing $4.5b annually in Commonwealth rent assistance.

12. Address the South Australia road funding anomaly – The Budget included $40m over the next two years to address the anomaly.

Other relevant commitments were:

  • $3.9bn for a Future Drought Fund for water infrastructure, an extra $15m to include 15 more local government areas under the Drought Communities Program, plus measures to support drought resilience
  • Allow local governments to access water infrastructure loan funding
  • establish a Centre for Population to coordinate population planning across all levels of government
  • allocate $58.2m through the Safer Communities Fund to help councils and community organisations prevent crime through CCTV cameras, security lighting, alarm systems and other infrastructure
  • invest $150m in a Western Parkland City Liveability Program in partnership with state and local governments to improve community facilities and urban amenity in Western Sydney.

See the full details of the Morrison Government’s election policies online.

Share

Get Ready for Local Government Week (29 July – 4 August)

Now is the time to start preparing for your council’s Local Government Week activities.

LG Week gives us a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate the work and services councils provide to their communities – through events and social and traditional media.
 

If you’re planning an event or special initiative, consider doing it during LG Week, or use the opportunity to promote your staff and services.

Last year 67 councils took part. This year we want to do better again and get every council in NSW on board.

So it’s time to start brainstorming, planning and getting your council to support your ideas.

We’re planning ahead, too, and getting ready to provide you with a bunch of ways to promote your council in your community.

Check out #LGWeek2018 on Twitter to see what other councils did last year and see our website, which contains graphics for download.

We’ll add more resources and keep you up to date as we go. In the meantime, get ready!
 

Share

SafeWork NSW Launches the A-Z of Farm Safety

Working on farms is physically demanding and workers face challenges of working outdoors, in all types of weather and conditions, and often in regionally isolated areas. 

SafeWork NSW has launched a new guide to provide practical guidance on how to stay safe on farms. 
 

SafeWork NSW has launched a new guide to provide practical guidance on how to stay safe on farms. 

The A-Z of Farm Safety has been designed by farmers, for farmers, to help identify risks.

For example, it provides valuable advice on how to ensure farm families, workers, visitors and volunteers can: 

  • manage extreme heat 
  • store and safely use chemicals
  • prevent falls from buildings and machinery
  • keep kids safe, and 
  • work safely in confined spaces


For more information contact SafeWork NSW or call 13 10 50.
 

Share

Review of EPA Guidelines for Local Government Officers

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is updating guidance that supports authorised officers and enforcement officers who exercise regulatory functions under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

The current operational guidelines are: 

  • Powers of Authorised Officers 
  • Guide to Notices

The EPA has revised and combined these into a draft guideline called the Powers and Notices Guideline for Authorised Officers and Enforcement Officers. Consultation on the draft will occur in June 2019. 

An update on the review and the response to feedback received from local government is available on the EPA website.

For more information or enquiries, email the EPA

Photo: Office of Environment & Heritage

Share

Comment on Draft Underground Petroleum Storage Systems Regulation

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is updating the regulatory requirements for underground petroleum storage systems (UPSS) operators, to reflect industry best practice.

Regulatory responsibility for UPSS operators will transition back to councils from 1 September 2019. 
 

The draft Protection of the Environment Operations (Underground Petroleum Storage Systems) Regulation 2019 (draft regulation) requires operators to report on and fix leaks quickly and implement industry best practice at their sites.
 
The draft regulation and accompanying Regulatory Impact Statement are currently on public exhibition on the EPA consultation portal.

Councils can forward comments for inclusion in the LGNSW submission to Susy Cenedese or phone 02 9242 4080 by 7 June. You can comment on the EPA portal before 14 June.

To keep up to date with the transition process, including training opportunities, register your contact details with the EPA’s UPSS team.
 

Photo: Office of Environment & Heritage

Share

Councils Supporting Small Business

Over 70 councils joined the inaugural Small Business Friendly Councils Conference, held in Sydney last week, hosted by NSW Small Business Commissioner, Robyn Hobbs OAM. 

The conference was attended by economic development officers, general managers and elected members from metropolitan, rural and regional councils. NSW Minister for Small Business Damien Tudehope presented councils with plaques to commemorate their achievements in supporting small business. 

LGNSW President Cr Linda Scott addressed the conference, highlighting the important role councils play in shaping communities and supporting and contributing to economic growth. She also focussed on how local government can take a place-based approach to attracting people and investment.

For more information about Small Business Friendly Councils or the Easy to do Business initiative, or to join the LGNSW Economic Development or Night Time Economies Networks, email Liz Cassis, LGNSW Council Liaison Manager. 
 

Share