President's Message

Cr Linda Scott

A local government perspective on the federal budget: focused on individuals, not communities – It’s been a busy week at Local Government NSW! We’ve been in the Riverina Murray for our first council summit and had the privilege of visiting several councils in the region, while keeping a close eye on national developments with the handing down of the federal budget on Tuesday night. 

On your behalf, we lobbied in partnership with our interstate counterparts, through the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), in the lead up to the federal budget for a better deal for local government and our communities.

The federal budget focussed more on individuals than communities, and that’s disappointing for local governments.

While key programs such as the Financial Assistance Grants and Roads to Recovery Program will continue, we were disappointed that the government has not sought to redress any of the shortfall in federal assistance funding that resulted from the three-year indexation freeze, meaning NSW councils will continue to shoulder the impact – equal to a permanent base reduction of 13 per cent. 

Funding for the crucial Roads to Recovery Program is returning to pre-2015/16 levels, with NSW to receive $85.4 million in 2018/19 and $111.5 million in 2019/20. 

The Bridges Renewal Program, the Black Spot Program, the Building Better Regions and Safer Communities funds will continue as anticipated. The Government also announced $29.7 million for up to 500 local community sporting infrastructure grants of up to $500,000. We’ll let you know when they become available.

Other commitments included: $971 million for the Coffs Harbour Bypass, $400 million for the Port Botany Rail Line duplication and Cabramatta passing loop; an urban congestion fund designed to address metropolitan bottlenecks; and an ongoing commitment to the Inland Rail Project, which the government has said will add $2.6 billion to the gross state domestic product for NSW. 

We welcome these infrastructure commitments, although note some (for example, the Port Botany Rail Line Duplication) have been previously promised by former governments, then cut – and now restored – by the current government. 

Noticeably, the budget was silent on the issue of recycling.

For further information read our budget blog posts and media release.

Council visitsCouncil visits 2

Strengthening LGNSW’s value, council summits – LGNSW’s series of council summits for 2018 kicked off on Thursday with our Riverina Murray summit, hosted by Leeton Shire Council. 

Some 40 mayors, councillors and senior staff from Berrigan, Bland, Carrathool, Coolamon, Cootamundra-Gundagai, Griffith, Leeton, Lockhart, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Narrandera, Temora, Wagga Wagga and Riverina Water made the summit the success it was by sharing great examples from their region about the strength of local government.

These regional summits provide you with the opportunity to raise matters important to your councils and communities with LGNSW Board members and me. 

We’re looking forward to the Illawarra/Shoalhaven Summit, in Shellharbour, on Wednesday 23 May. If you are a mayor, councillor, general manager or deputy GM, we hope to see you there. Find out more and register online.

Listening to member councils – I’m grateful to the mayors, councillors and general managers of Lockhart, Federation, Berrigan Shire, Edward River, Murray River, Carrathool Shire, Murrumbidgee, Leeton and Griffith City for hosting our visits this week. 

I’m very committed to travelling to meet you all and will continue to work closely across all of NSW so LGNSW can best advocate for your council, and the communities we serve. 


StateCover – Call for Nominations for Non-Executive Director Positions


Expressions of interest are now being sought from eligible, suitably-qualified councillors who wish to be considered for appointment to the Board of StateCover.

The LGNSW Board nominates four directors to the Board of StateCover. To be eligible for appointment as a LGNSW representative, applicants must be a councillor of a council that is a member of LGNSW, and a councillor of a council member of StateCover.

Appointments may be for terms of up to three years.

StateCover Mutual is an APRA regulated specialised workers’ compensation insurer of NSW local government organisations, insuring approximately 90 per cent of eligible councils with a combined workforce of 30,000. StateCover is a not-for-profit organisation, providing workers compensation and work health and safety services to its insured members.

Successful candidates must have director experience, and should demonstrate knowledge of, and experience in long tail insurance or the broader insurance/finance sectors. Specialised skills and experience are also required in a number of the following areas: business strategy, risk management, finance, actuarial, investment, IT, governance, marketing and operating in an APRA-regulated environment. They should also demonstrate an understanding of relevant legislation including the Corporations Act.

Applicants should understand and agree to accept the time commitment involved (approximately 25 days per year) and the ongoing professional development requirements.

Councillors wishing to be considered for appointment as a LGNSW representative on the Board of StateCover must satisfy the requirements of its fit and proper policy.

Information packs containing further details about the positions and the selection criteria must be obtained by prospective applicants, and are available from Aimee Fox at LGNSW.

Applications close Friday 18 May 2018.


Smart Cities and Suburbs Program

The second round of the federal government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program is open, with around $22 million in grants available through a competitive process.

Applications are being sought from collaborative projects, led by local governments, which apply innovative technology solutions to urban challenges to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.

Some changes have been made to the program guidelines for round two including:

  • a requirement for local government bodies to be lead applicants
  • an increase in the minimum grant amount to $250,000, with a co-contribution of at least 50 per cent of the total project costs
  • streamlining of the guidelines related to innovation to ensure that projects go beyond business as usual and provide smart technology solutions to community challenges.

For information on the criteria and how to apply visit the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science website.

Applications close on 2 July 2018.


Inland Rail Community Consultative Committees


The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is calling for nominations for four Inland Rail Community Consultative Committees in NSW.

As part of ARTC’s commitment to work closely with communities in constructing and delivering the Inland Rail project, three committees will be established for the 307km greenfield Narromine to Narrabri section of the project and one for the 37km greenfield North Star to NSW/Queensland border section.

Each section will be assessed through the NSW Government’s formal project assessment and approvals process, requiring the preparation of an environmental impact statement. 

The committees will generally consist of up to 15 people, including an independent chair. Meetings will be open to the public and the media.

Nominations close at 5pm on 25 May 2018.

For more information email Inland Rail or call 1800 732 761.


Community Road Safety Grants


Applications for round four of the Community Road Safety Grants program are now open, with a total of $400,000 up for grabs.

Grants of up to $30,000 are available for local initiatives including young driver education programs, radio campaigns and seniors’ workshops.

There are two grant categories:

  • small projects, up to $5,000
  • more substantial projects, up to $30,000.

Applications close on Sunday 10 June 2018.

Visit the Transport for NSW website for more information and to download an application form.


NSW Grandparents Day Grants

Councils and community organisations are encouraged to apply for grants to host Grandparents Day events this year.

Administered by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, the grants support events that celebrate grandparents, and provide opportunities for older people to participate in activities with their families and communities.

Grandparents Day 2018 will be celebrated on Sunday 28 October, but events can be held anytime between 15 October and 11 November 2018.

There are three funding categories:

  • up to $1,000 for small-scale local community events or activities
  • $1001-$5,000 for local community events
  • $5,001 - $10,000 for large-scale community events (such as council events, run in partnership with other organisations).

View the application guidelines.

Applications close at midday on 15 June 2018.


Be Connected Grants


The Good Things Foundation is inviting councils to apply for the latest round of grants through the Be Connected program, a federal government initiative seeking to help older Australians, aged 50-plus, to thrive in a digital world.

The Be Connected network is made up of community partners from around Australia, helping to make a difference to the lives of digitally-excluded people.

More than 1,130 local organisations, including councils, are network partners.

Three grant streams are open:

  • Activation grants – one-off awards for new organisations joining the Be Connected network.
  • Building Digital Skills grants – ranging from $2,500 to $15,000, depending on how many people a network partner can support. Applications close on 31 May.
  • Capacity Building grants – up to $50,000 for large-scale community organisations to recruit and support network partners. Applications close on 21 May.

For more information email the Good Things Foundation or call 02 9051 9292.

To apply visit the Be Connected website


Australian Institute of Urban Studies City Briefing

Former Lord Mayor of Adelaide Stephen Yarwood will give a presentation on Smart Citizens and the New Urban Operating System at the next Australian Institute of Urban Studies (AIUS) city briefing (Sydney, 17 May)

This event will be of particular interest to planners, including council staff working in planning and development.

The way people are using and experiencing cities is rapidly changing. Mr Yarwood will outline how government, business, entertainment, public space and transport must adapt to ensure cities are competitive in the global marketplace.

He will also explore how technology will rewrite the operation of cities during this century and outline the implications for local government.

Find out more and book online.


Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements Survey

Councils are encouraged to provide feedback, via an online survey, on the federal government plans to replace the existing Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements with the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

The DRFA, which are expected to come into force on 1 July 2018, permanently removes restrictions on the use of normal-hours salary and wages staff (day labour) and internal plant/equipment hire to councils that agree to revised co-contribution arrangements.

The NSW Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is implementing the transition for local government in association with Roads and Maritime Services, the Public Works Advisory and the Office of Local Government and is seeking local government feedback via the survey by 21 May 2018.

The DRFA have been tested with 15 selected councils across NSW.

Consultations with pilot councils and initial briefings for regional organisations of councils, and joint organisations were completed in March 2018.

Details of the proposed model and a calculator were provided in an information pack sent to general managers on 24 April 2018.

Further Information and survey

Councils are encouraged to review the DRFA arrangements online and join its online information session during the feedback period. These will run throughout May on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:30-2:30pm. Log in details were included in the information pack. If you require further assistance email DRFA support.

LGNSW strongly recommends that councils carefully assess the options using the information and tools provided before making a decision.

LGNSW is also seeking feedback from councils on the new arrangements. Please contact Richard Connors, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW, via email or call 9242 4073.