President's Message

Cr Linda Scott

I’d like to begin by congratulating the many councillors and mayors who were elected into NSW local government positions two years ago this week. Thank you for all the work you do, serving your communities in the most valuable sphere of government in our nation.
 
Your help needed: Federal election focus on local – I’m so proud we joined with the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to launch your federal election document. Our local government platform outlines 12 ways political parties and their candidates can keep the election local and deliver for Australian communities.
 
The document quotes a YouGov Galaxy poll from June 2018, which found that 81 per cent of Australians agree that political candidates should focus on local issues and local communities at the next federal election.
 
I’m looking forward to discussing the campaign further at ALGA’s Board meeting in Canberra next week.
 
All councils are urged to support ALGA’s national advocacy. Visit ALGA’s election advocacy website to find out more.
 
Cr Linda Scott Minister RobertsReview of the planning system; ensuring local government’s voice is heard – We had another positive and productive meeting with Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, raising the many issues you continue to raise with us – including the need for reform of boarding houses, short-term rental accommodation, the need for LGNSW to participate in the Review of Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 and planning skill shortages. 

If you would like us to raise anything at our next meeting, email Jane Partridge, Senior Policy Officer, Planning, LGNSW.
 
I was also pleased to meet with former NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas this week to provide local government feedback on his review of the decision-making framework, of the NSW planning system.
 
On your behalf, we raised members’ concerns on matters including spot re-zoning, private certifiers, the Building and Development Certifiers Bill 2018, local planning panels, e-planning, skills shortages and planner qualifications.
 
Success: IPART announces next year’s rate peg  of 2.7% – The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announced a 2.7% increase on council rates for 2019/20 this week. The new rate reflects the local government price index, which measures the range of costs borne by local government.
 
While LGNSW welcomes the rate is higher than in recent years, we argued it still leaves little scope for councils to address infrastructure maintenance backlogs, or to build a more sustainable financial future. It also forces many councils to seek special rate variations to cover the cost of providing vital new infrastructure and services. Read more in our media release and Weekly article.
 
Cr Linda Scott Mayor ReddingIncreasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in local government – It was a great honour to address delegates at the 30th NSW Local Government Aboriginal Network Conference, and thank you to Mayor Cathy Redding and Narrabri Shire for hosting us this week. 
 
The conference brought together delegates from across the state to discuss current and emerging issues facing councils, Aboriginal communities, businesses and the wider community. I encourage councils to make use of LGNSW’s Collaborate NSW website and resource kit to support the inclusion of Aboriginal communities in council decision making, service development and delivery.
 
For more information contact Margaret Kay, Strategy Manager, LGNSW.
 
The fight for increased funding for public libraries continues – If you’re currently considering or have passed a mayoral minute to support our Renew Our Libraries campaign, we still need your support despite the NSW Government’s announcement of $60 million in new funding!  We’ve been examining the detail of the funding package and how it measures up against other states.  What we know so far is that it’s not enough and it cuts off in 2023.  Look out for further communication on this shortly.

Your Help Needed: Councillor Work Value Project - In response to your requests, we’re conducting a significant new review of the appropriateness of the remuneration paid to mayors and councillors in NSW in order to make the case for increased remuneration and conditions.
 
In addition to the significantly increased workloads of elected members, the review will consider complex changes including the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework, the introduction of joint organisations and recent amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 concerning the role of the governing body and elected members.
 
The review will also collect feedback on the classification criteria under the Act for future submissions (the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal will next consider categorisation in 2020). The survey will be distributed to member councils in early October 2018 – so keep a look out to ensure your voice is heard! Members’ participation is crucial to the success of this project and I thank you in advance for your support. Read more .

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Building Resilience to Climate Change Workshop

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Registration is closing soon for a free workshop on building resilience to climate change (Murwillumbah,19 September).

The workshop will showcase projects funded through the Building Resilience to Climate Change program – run in partnership between LGNSW and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

Topics include climate risks to water supplies, increased mosquito-borne disease, vegetation and land-use planning.

Councils are invited to attend along with representatives from OEH, Local Land Services and other NSW agencies.

Register online.

Visit the LGNSW website for more information, or email Denise Anderson, Senior Policy Officer – Environment, LGNSW.

Photo: Office of Environment and Heritage 

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Privacy Code of Practice for Local Government

The NSW Office of Local Government (OLG) is reviewing the Privacy Code of Practice for Local Government.

Councils have a statutory obligation under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 to comply with the code.

The code modifies the Information Protection Principles applicable to local government and the public register provisions in Part 6 of the Act.

LGNSW is considering making a submission on behalf of the sector. Councils wishing to raise concerns about the code are encouraged to email Jessica Wood, Legal Officer, LGNSW by 24 September.

The closing date for submissions to OLG is 30 September 2018.

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NSW Children’s Week Awards

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Councils are encouraged to nominate children, young people and adults in their communities who are making a positive impact in the lives of children and young people for this year’s NSW Children’s Week Awards.

NSW Children’s Week will be celebrated from 19-28 October 2018.

Award categories for recipients under 18 years are:

  • community art
  • bravery
  • act of kindness
  • giving back to the community
  • environmental
  • newly arrived migrant or refugee
  • voice (advocacy work).

Categories for adult recipients are:

  • inspiring mentor
  • foster parent/guardian.

Find out more and make a nomination online by Sunday 7 October.

Winners will receive GoPro cameras.

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Have Your Say on National Waste Policy

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The Australian Government is seeking feedback on a discussion paper regarding future policy on waste management and resource recovery.

The feedback will be used to update the 2009 National Waste Policy for consideration by environment ministers later this year.

This follows a commitment made by the ministers earlier this year, to set a sustainable path for Australia's recyclable waste.

The discussion paper sets out a number of proposed targets, timeframes and interim milestones.

Feedback can be provided by completing an online survey, or by sending a submission with cover sheet, by Friday, 5 October 2018.

For more information email the Australian Department of Environment and Energy.

To contribute to LGNSW's submission, email Liz Quinlan, Senior Policy Officer, by 28 September 2018.

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New Rate Peg Announced

Councils will be able to increase the revenue they can collect from rates by a maximum of 2.7 per cent in 2019-20 under the new rate peg announced this week by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

IPART advises that next year’s rate peg is higher than it has been in recent years (2.3 per cent in 2018-19 and 1.5 per cent in 2017-18) due to increases in labour and energy costs and higher construction costs for roads, drains, footpaths, kerbing and bridges.

IPART determines the rate peg by measuring changes in the Local Government Cost Index (LGCI), which includes changes in the average costs faced by councils. A productivity discount was not applied.

The LGCI increased by 2.7 per cent in the year to June 2018, exceeding the Australian consumer price index (CPI) June 2018 of 2.1 per cent and the Reserve Bank forecast CPI for 2018/19 of 2.25 per cent.

For more information visit IPART’s website.

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Free Assessment Tool for Road Managers

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and the Australian Road Research Board have launched an updated version of the Restricted Access Vehicle Route Assessment Tool (RAVRAT).

RAVRAT 2.0 provides local governments with a consistent assessment methodology for assessing heavy vehicle access requests.

The NVHR and road managers processed almost 35,000 permit requests in 2017/18. The new tool will streamline assessment times and provide a more consistent process for heavy vehicle operators.

The tool has been integrated with the NVHR Portal - Road Manager Module. It currently incorporates three main route assessment modules with more to be developed in the future.

Register online for RAVRAT services.

For more information email RAVRAT.

The RAVRAT governance committee consists of representatives from local government associations, including LGNSW.

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Written Off Heavy Vehicle Register

Austroads and the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council have released technical criteria to assess heavy vehicles for the classification of heavy vehicle statutory write-offs.

The technical criteria have been developed and agreed by an expert reference group consisting of government and industry experts, including Australia’s major heavy vehicle insurers, manufacturers, repairers and transport agencies.

The criteria identify when a vehicle involved in a crash, or other event that has been declared a total loss, should be classified as a statutory write-off.

A statutory write-off may only be used for dismantling salvageable parts for reuse, or processing as scrap.

The technical criteria are designed to assist insurance personnel and other notifiers who are required to classify heavy vehicle write-offs for regulatory purposes.

NSW is expected to be the first jurisdiction to implement the new criteria this year, with other states to follow.

Download a guide to the new criteria from the Austroads website.

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Flagship Events Fund

Event organisers across rural and regional NSW holding events between January and June 2019, are encouraged to apply for grants through the Flagship Event Fund.

The fund is part of the Regional Flagship Events Program established by the NSW Government in 1997.

The Flagship Event Fund supports the marketing of established events (being held for at least the third time) which aim to increase visitation or the length of stay in a region.

In 2019, for the first time, grants of up to $20,000 will be offered over two rounds with a simplified application process:

  • events taking place from January-June 2019
  • events taking place from July-December 2019.

The first round is now open.

Apply online by Monday 8 October 2018.

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Australian Tourism Data Warehouse

Councils can subscribe to the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) to market local accommodation and tourism attractions on council destination websites.

The ATDW hosts more than 40,000 listings of places to stay, attractions, events and tourism services across Australia.

ATDW is jointly owned by Destination NSW and the other state and territory tourism organisations who quality check the listings. 

LGNSW was proud to partner with the ATDW in 2017/18 to create a set of mandatory disability inclusion questions for tourism operators when uploading their listing.

The disability inclusion data is available to councils and other ATDW subscribers.

For more information visit the ATDW website or email Callum Mack, Industry Partnerships Executive.

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Councillor Work Value Project

During LGNSW’s 2017 Annual Conference, it was resolved that LGNSW manage a councillor work value project to demonstrate the value of the work undertaken by elected members.

The findings will be submitted to the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal as part of LGNSW’s 2019 submission.

LGNSW is conducting a review of the current remuneration paid to mayors and councillors in NSW.

The review will consider elected members’ workloads, remuneration paid in comparable roles and whether full-time elected members are required.

It will also consider the impact of complex changes including the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework, the introduction of joint organisations and recent amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 concerning the role of the governing body and elected members.

Feedback on the classification criteria under the Act will be saved for future submissions (the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal will next consider categorisation in 2020).

LGNSW is preparing an electronic survey.

Mayoral mentors and some mayors will be contacted soon to participate in a phone interview (including the heads of joint organisations and a sample of mayors from recently amalgamated councils and capital cities).

We plan to distribute the electronic survey and begin making phone calls in early October 2018.

For more information contact Vikki Sultana, Industrial Officer, LGNSW or call 02 9242 4145.

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