FOCUS ON THE WEST – My week began in far west NSW visiting Broken Hill City Council and Central Darling Council, before travelling to Cobar for the Western Division Councils of NSW Mid-Year Conference. We’re grateful to Adam Marshall, Minster for Agriculture and Western NSW, Roy Butler MP, member for Barwon and Helen Dalton MP, member for Murray, for attending and to all the mayors, deputy mayors, councillors and general managers for their hard work supporting our communities through this crippling drought.
I’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact of drought from my many visits to rural and regional communities over the past 12 months, so we’re pleased that persistent lobbying on your behalf has paid off with an additional $355m allocated for drought assistance during the recent state budget (over and above the $400m commitment made during the election campaign). We’re also pleased that much-needed water security and on-farm assistance programs will be extended. This drought isn’t going to break any time soon, so we’ll continue to lobby hard at all levels.
We also discussed financial assistance grants, the emergency services levy, roads, rural and regional health, community services and local water utilities and recycling. Our Save our Recycling campaign continues, aiming to create real opportunities, including regional jobs, in a home-grown recycling industry. If your council hasn’t already passed our mayoral minute, please consider doing so. Email LGNSW’s Environment Strategy Manager Susy Cenedese for more information or to update us on action taken by your council.
ADVOCACY WIN: MEDIUM DENSITY PLANNING PAUSE EXTENDED – Following our extensive lobbying we’re delighted NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes has recognised our many concerns and granted a further three-month pause on implementing the medium density housing code. Our core concern is that it removes planning powers from councils, risking poor quality dwellings being built and alienating communities from the development process. The delay will allow councils time to get the right planning instruments in place. See our media release. For more information or to raise concerns, email LGNSW Planning Strategy Manager Jane Partridge.
SHARE YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL ACHIEVEMENTS – There’s still time to enter this year’s LGNSW Excellence in the Environment Awards – the leading environmental awards for local government. If your council has undertaken an outstanding project between January 2018 and June 2019, we want to hear about it! Nominations close on 29 July. Find out more and make a nomination.
FUNDING TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE – Councils are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $300,000 to address climate change risks including extreme heat, flooding, tidal inundation and water scarcity through the Increasing Resilience to Climate Change grants program. Round 2 is open until 2 September 2019. Read more.
MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT FOR COUNCILS – As you may be aware, the NSW Office of Local Government issued a circular to councils this week on the development of template policies on social media use and councillor/staff interactions to support the new Model Code of Conduct. The office is seeking examples of councils’ current policies and feedback on what other template governance policies they would like to see developed. To raise any questions or concerns, email LGNSW Legal Officer Jessica Wood.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTORAL EXPENDITURE CAPS PROPOSAL - CALL FOR FEEDBACK – I emailed councillors and mayors this week advising that LGNSW is seeking feedback on our proposal for local government electoral expenditure caps, and whether you agree that we should put forward a proposal that the expenditure cap be calculated at $1 per elector. It is essential that any electoral expenditure arrangements are fair and consistent, but also that they are administratively simple to understand. That’s why fixing these laws is one of our key advocacy priorities for 2019. For further information on the proposal or to provide feedback, contact LGNSW Strategy Manager Damian Thomas.
Photos: Broken Hill City Council visit; Central Darling Council visit; LGNSW President Cr Linda Scott addressing the Western Division Councils of NSW Mid-Year Conference in Cobar.