President's Message

Linda ScottLGNSW win on asbestos laws – Following our strong advocacy on the need to better regulate illegal asbestos dumping, the Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (Asbestos Waste) Bill was passed in Parliament on Tuesday night to increase penalties for illegal dumping of asbestos.

On your behalf, LGNSW successfully sought an amendment to allow councils and other waste facility operators 12 months to implement changes to asbestos screening, given the new penalties which may also apply to council staff.  

We are very grateful to Paul Green MLC and the Christian Democratic Party for moving the amendment, which was fully supported by Labor, Greens and the Shooters and Fishers – and ultimately, by the NSW Government. Congratulations to our staff on this work. Contact Daniel Adler, LGNSW Asbestos Policy Project Manager, for more information. 

Federal election: strengthening our collective voice – Congratulations to Mayor David O'Loughlin who was unanimously re-elected as ALGA president at this week’s Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Board’s annual general meeting. I was honoured to represent NSW and be elected as ALGA Vice-President, and together the Board pledged to focus on joint advocacy to secure a better deal on federal funding for local government, particularly for financial assistance grants to be restored to at least one per cent of total Commonwealth taxation revenue.

I urge you to seek meetings with the federal members and candidates in your local area, and ask them to support ALGA’s federal election document.  Together, we can make a difference to local government and our communities.

National ALGA Roads Conference and Drought Summit – Councils from across Australia gathered for the ALGA National Local Roads and Transport Congress and Drought Summit. We will continue to join ALGA’s call for ongoing investment in the federal Bridges Renewal Program to help fix local timber bridges, around one in five of which are in poor condition.

Many of the nation’s 81 drought-affected councils and their state-based associations also met to discuss concerns about accessing the Australian Government’s drought assistance funding, and to work on solutions to propose to the federal government. Thank you to the many NSW mayors and councillors who have worked with LGNSW to add their voice and good ideas on drought relief funding this week, including Mayor Col Murray from Tamworth, Mayor Phyllis Miller from Forbes, Mayor Mark Liebich from Weddin and Councillor Charlie Sheahan from Cootamundra Gundagai. 

National ALGA Roads Conference and Drought Summit

 

Deadline 1 December: important reminder on Return and Earn – Councils that want a share of container deposit scheme proceeds must enter into agreements with material recovery facilities by 1 December. Read more. If you are not close to securing an agreement with your Return and Earn provider, please urgently contact Susy Cenedese, LGNSW Environment Strategy Manager for advice.

Finally, I’m looking forward to welcoming participants to our LGNSW Mayor’s Weekend in Sydney this weekend to discuss the special roles and responsibilities that mayors undertake. We’ll be holding another mayor’s weekend next year – stay tuned for details.

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Climate Change Grants

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Councils can apply for grants of up to $300,000 under the Increasing Resilience to Climate Change grants program, a partnership between LGNSW and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to address climate change risks and vulnerabilities facing NSW councils.

Grants totalling $1,100,000 are available over the next two years as follows:

  • $30,000 to $120,000 for individual councils
  • $50,000 to $300,000 for regional adaptation projects across several councils. 

Apply online  by Friday 1 March 2019.

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Refund sharing agreements under Return and Earn

Councils that want their material recovery facilities (MRFs) to continue claiming refunds under the Return and Earn container deposit scheme must notify the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) by 1 December 2018.

MRF operators have been able to claim refunds on a quarterly basis since the beginning of the scheme, but this will cease from 1 December 2018 unless the following conditions are met:

  • council has a refund sharing agreement (RSA) with the MRF in force that council considers to be fair and reasonable
  • council considers that it is fair and reasonable that there is no RSA in force
  • council has entered into a new kerbside recycling contract after 1 December 2017.

Councils are not required to enter a RSA or notify the EPA before 1 December 2018. However, the MRF will not be able to claim further refunds (and therefore share refunds with council) if a RSA is not in force by 1 December 2018, unless one of the other conditions is met instead.

Councils and MRFs can enter RSAs and make a notification after the deadline. However, if the 1 December deadline is not met then the money to pay refunds will not be collected from beverage suppliers and refunds from 1 December 2018 to the date of the new notification cannot be claimed retrospectively.

Councils may consider entering into a short-term RSA to allow more time to negotiate an agreement covering broader issues, such as China’s National Sword policy. An RSA can cover refunds already claimed by MRFs back to the start of the scheme, as well as future refunds.

For more information see Frequently Asked Questions.

Download a refund sharing agreement form from the EPA website.

EPA contacts: Alex Young, 02 9995 6882 or Monica Morona, 02 9995 6483.

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Asbestos Awareness Month

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National Asbestos Awareness Month has been running throughout November to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and how to manage it safely.

This year’s campaign is about reducing the likelihood of exposure to asbestos with these new messages:

  • Be aware – is it there?
  • Be cautious – no go, until you know!
  • Be safe – safely dispose, don’t expose.
  • Be curious – if in doubt, find out! 

With a week to go, there’s still time to get involved.

Visit the LGNSW website for more information and resources.

For more information email Daniel Adler, LGNSW Asbestos Policy Project Manager or call 02 9242 4128.

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2018 ALGA National State of the Assets Report

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The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) launched its 2018 National State of the Assets: Roads and Community Infrastructure Report during the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Alice Springs this week.

The report finds the need for investment in local government infrastructure today exceeds $30 billion and is likely to continue to grow to meet productivity and safety requirements, which is beyond the funding capacity of the local government sector under current revenue arrangements.

It also finds that state and national infrastructure planning and funding has focussed on major connecting projects and attention is now needed for local infrastructure.

The report recommends ALGA:

  • Includes the following questions in future updates:
    • the current year and 10-year forward estimate of planned expenditure, i.e. long-term financial plan
    • projected outlays, i.e. asset management plan for operations, maintenance, renewal and upgrade/new.
  • Advocates for ongoing focus on and funding for asset management capability and capacity building.
  • Advocates for required investment in local government infrastructure to manage risks and increase productivity for local communities.

It is recommended local government regulators:

  • audit asset management and long-term financial plans so that they are aligned, credible, reliable, up-to-date, and compliant with best practice
  • assist local councils to increase their knowledge and confidence in determining unit costs and useful life of key asset classes.

It is recommended local government:

  • ensures asset management and long-term financial plans are aligned, credible, reliable, up-to-date, and compliant with best practice
  • continues to improve their asset management capability to a position that they can demonstrate and provide a sustainable and affordable service delivery model to their communities.

Councils from across the country have joined ALGA’s call for ongoing investment in the federal Bridges Renewal Program to help fix local timber bridges, around one in five of which are in poor condition.

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Western City Aerotropolis Authority

The NSW and Australian governments have established a Western City & Aerotropolis Authority (WCAA) to facilitate the design and delivery of the aerotropolis and support the growth of the Western Parkland City.

Its role will include:

  • master planning and developing
  • placemaking, precinct activation and precinct management
  • infrastructure planning, prioritisation and coordination
  • securing national and foreign investment.

The authority will also a have role in delivering NSW strategic plans, including:

  • Western City District Plan (Greater Sydney Commission)
  • land use and infrastructure implementation plan for the aerotropolis (NSW Department of Planning and Environment)
  • Future Transport Strategy (Transport for NSW).

An interim chairman (Geoff Roberts) and chief executive (Sam Sangster) have been appointed with the remainder of appointments expected early next year.

For further information see the NSW Government’s media release.

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Home-Based Businesses Survey

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The Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner has launched a survey asking home-based business owners about their experiences with government – including local government – and what information and resources they need to start and grow.

Councils are encouraged to share the survey with home-based business networks via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter or by providing the link.

The survey will take around 10 minutes to complete and all information will be kept confidential.

The results will be used to improve support for home-based businesses in NSW and will be made available to councils through the Small Business Friendly Councils Program.

For more information email Cathy Suryasumirat, Advisor – Advocacy and Strategic Projects, Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner.

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Common Roads, Common Sense

The National Farmers’ Federation and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) this week launched their Common Roads, Common Sense campaign to promote safer interactions between large farm machinery and the motoring public on regional roads.

The campaign is being delivered through radio, online and video clips targeting regional road users across Australia, promoting a simple, three-step message to help guide driver behaviour – look out, slow down and take care.

The launch coincided with National Agriculture Day on Wednesday (November 21).

The campaign is being funded by $250,000 from the NHVR’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, which is currently open for applications.

Find out more.

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Heavy Vehicle Safety

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The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has published guidance material to assist councils in developing safety management systems.

The materials will help businesses of all sizes and types to meet safety obligations under both the National Heavy Vehicle Law (NHVL) and work health and safety laws.

They include an overview booklet, videos, quick guides, templates and worked examples.

Download the materials.

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Local Strategic Planning: Your Future LGA in 20 Years

LGNSW is holding a seminar for mayors, councillors and planning professionals on the preparation of local strategic planning statements (Sydney, 5 December).

All councils have a 10-year vision and community strategic plan, but new requirements introduced by the NSW Government in March 2018, require councils to prepare local strategic planning statements with a 20-year vision for land use in the local area.

Mayors and councillors should be aware of the significant forward planning that is required to produce these statements and the tight timeframes for their delivery. 

The statements are designed to demonstrate the local changes that will be made over 20 years in transport infrastructure, green grids and additional homes to accommodate the future population.

This seminar will enable elected members to understand what the planning statements and related legislation can deliver for local communities, how they will integrate with community strategic plans and the level of community engagement needed.

Limited places are available for this seminar.

Find out more and register.

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