President's Message

Linda ScottRecognising councils’ environmental leadership – Congratulations to the NSW councils announced as winners in our much-coveted, annual Excellence in the Environment Awards. Local government is a powerhouse for undertaking environmental projects that achieve real outcomes for current and future generations as showcased by this year’s finalists, with projects covering everything from recycling, environmental rehabilitation and solar energy to asbestos waste management, food organics and flood mitigation.

City of Parramatta scooped the prestigious Local Sustainability Award for embedding an environmental sustainability strategy into everyday operations.

Congratulations to all the winners as follows:

Asbestos Management – Ballina Shire Council (overall category and Division B winner), Wollongong City Council (Division C winner).

Behaviour Change in Waste – City of Parramatta (overall category and Division C winner), Cessnock City Council (Division B winner), Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (Division C highly commended).

Community Waste Services – Inner West Council (overall category and Division C winner), Albury City Council (Division B winner), Blacktown City Council (Division C highly commended).

Resource Recovery – Cessnock City Council (overall category and Division B winner).

Climate Change Action – Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra councils (overall and Division C winner), Cowra Shire Council (Division A winner), Wingecarribee Shire Council (Division B winner), Northern Beaches and Penrith City councils (Division C highly commended).

Communication, Education and Empowerment – Muswellbrook Shire Council (overall category and Division A winner), Wingecarribee Shire Council (Division B winner), Ballina Shire Council (Division B highly commended), City of Canada Bay (Division C winner), Blacktown City Council (Division C highly commended).

Community Sharps Management – Wagga Wagga City Council (overall category and Division B winner).

Innovation in Planning, Policies and Decision Making – Northern Beaches Council (overall category and Division C winner), Newcastle City Council (Division C highly commended).

Invasive Species Management – Wagga Wagga City Council (overall category and Division B winner)

Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement: On-Ground Works – Kempsey Shire Council (overall category and Division A winner), Bathurst Regional Council (Division B winner), Tweed Shire Council (Division C winner), City of Ryde (Division C highly commended).

Roadside Environmental Management – Bathurst Regional Council (overall category and Division B winner), Mid-Western Regional Council (Division A winner).

Sustainable Infrastructure – Penrith City Council (overall category and Division C winner).

Water Management – Liverpool City Council (overall category and Division C winner), Ballina Shire Council (Division B winner). 

Local Sustainability – City of Parramatta Council (overall category and Division C winner), Blacktown City Council (Division C highly commended).

Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability, Peter Maganov, Randwick City Council.

Responding to the Treasurer on parking fines– Last week the NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet wrote to general managers regarding parking fine concessions. As stated in our media release earlier this year, NSW Councils believe this bid by the NSW Government to be kinder by reducing parking fines for overstayers could negatively impact all motorists, residents and ratepayers. Further, for a number of NSW councils, up to 50 per cent of the fine revenue is already provided to the NSW Government in processing fees already, yet there is currently no offer to reduce this percentage. For more information and to understand how other NSW councils are responding, email Shaun McBride, Senior Strategy Manager, LGNSW.  

Your Board meeting – Your LGNSW Board met in Sydney today to discuss a range of issues and endorse several submissions. Following strong advocacy by LGNSW, quality standards and funding concerns surrounding childcare will be discussed at the upcoming Council of Australian Governments meeting in Adelaide next week (12 December). If you would like us to raise any issues on your behalf, contact Elizabeth Robertson, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW.   Read more.

Parliamentary inquiry backs our position on the fire and emergency services levy – We welcome the findings and recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into the fire and emergency services levy, released last Friday, which conclude the NSW Government’s failed implementation of the levy was a poor public policy decision, undertaken without adequate understanding of the complexities of the issue. We will urge the NSW Government to accept the recommendations, following on from our longstanding advocacy on this issue. Read more.

LGNSW secures a better code of practice for cemetery and crematorium operators – Earlier this year, Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW (CCNSW) invited us to comment on a draft code of practice to standardise practices across the internment industry. Following our submissions, the final code (which is voluntary) includes clearer information on providing and disclosing information, and a better system for handling complaints. At our request, CCNSW also agreed to consult with councils before making the code mandatory. For more information, contact Damian Thomas, LGNSW Strategy Manager.

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Parliamentary Inquiry into the Fire and Emergency Services Levy Report

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LGNSW welcomed the findings and recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiry into the fire and emergency services levy released last Friday.

The report endorses our sector’s key policy positions. It also concludes the NSW Government’s failed implementation and late deferral of the levy caused significant and avoidable costs to local government and the insurance industry.

The report recommends that:

  • the NSW Government provides greater oversight and accountability to ensure that the budgets for fire and emergency services agencies are appropriate
  • the NSW Government considers making Revenue NSW responsible for administering any new fire and emergency services levy
  • no future NSW Government should move to implement a fire and emergency services levy
  • unless it considers:
    • use of capital improved value of land for calculation of levy
    • differential levy rates, fixed charges, discounts and caps
    • better aligned land classifications between council and the levy
    • the removal of 11.7 per cent contribution by councils
    • the impact of the levy on lower socio- economic households, currently unable to afford building and contents insurance.
  • the NSW Government ensures appropriate consultation with key stakeholders during the development or re-modelling of any new levy.

We are urging the NSW Government to accept the recommendations and commend the NSW Revenue Professionals Association for working with us on this issue and appearing jointly before the Parliamentary inquiry.

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Communication Professionals’ Online Network

Local government media and communication professionals who are not already members of the LGNSW Communication Network are invited to join.

Currently 200 people from more than 100 councils and other member organisations participate in the closed Google group, specifically for communication professionals.

Most local government communication staff work in small, busy teams with limited resources and find the network useful for connecting with others in similar roles, asking questions, sharing information and resources.

Topics discussed are diverse, ranging from digital technology and social media strategy, to media issues, special days and campaigns, branding, photography, copyright and resourcing.

LGNSW also uses the network to communicate about whole-of-sector campaigns such as Renew our Libraries and Save our Recycling.

Access to the network is available for media and communication professionals only.

To join, you will need a Google account associated with your council address.

See our step-by-step instructions on how to set one up and join the group.

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Board Meeting Report

The LGNSW Board held its last meeting of the year in Sydney today.

The Board noted:

  • Progress on Our Save Our Recycling campaign, with several councils adopting the mayoral minute and undertaking local media on this issue. If your council hasn’t resolved to support the campaign, you can find all the details online.
  • ALGA’s All Politics is Local campaign for the lead-up to the federal election.
  • The launch of our biannual Cost Shifting Report at Nambucca and Inner West councils.
  • The securing of an amendment to the Protection of the Environment Operations Amendment (Asbestos Waste) Bill to increase penalties for illegal dumping of asbestos. LGNSW successfully sought an amendment to allow councils and other waste operators 12 months to implement the changes.
  • Ongoing focus on priority advocacy issues ahead of the NSW Government caretaker mode, beginning on 1 March.
    • electoral funding
    • workforce shortages, especially for planning and engineering staff
    • drought relief
    • sustainable funding for public libraries.

In closing her President’s report, Cr Scott paid tribute to former Hurstville Councillor Beverley Geigerl OAM, a former executive member of the Local Government Association, who passed away last month.

The Board noted the ongoing work with the chairs of the NSW joint organisations (JOs) on working together on shared advocacy agendas, and other benefits to JOs that join LGNSW as associate members.

The Board endorsed several LGNSW draft submissions on issues ranging from marine biodiversity, national biosecurity and outdoor dining to short-term rental accommodation, the local government remuneration tribunal and superannuation for councillors. LGNSW is continuing to advocate for the maximum increase in fees to councillors and mayors available under existing legislation and for superannuation. All LGNSW submissions are available online.

Cr Scott reminded the Board that the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) federal election campaign was well underway and urged board members to schedule meetings with their local federal members, asking them to support ALGA’s 10-point plan for the future of local government.

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Walking and Cycling Program

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Councils can apply for funding through the NSW Government’s Walking and Cycling Program to make these activities a more convenient, safer and enjoyable transport option.

Funding is available for:

  • infrastructure projects
  • non-infrastructure projects
  • projects in metropolitan areas
  • projects in regional areas
  • development projects
  • implementation and construction projects
  • evaluation projects.

Download the program guidelines to find out more and view the eligibility criteria.

Apply online by Friday 14 December.

For more information email NSW Roads and Maritime Services.

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Proposed Changes to Affordable Housing SEPP

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is seeking feedback on proposed changes to SEPP 70 – Affordable Housing, by 19 December 2018.

The changes will:

  • amend the SEPP to include all local government areas (meaning councils will no longer need to seek the Minister’s approval to be included)
  • amend the definition of affordable housing, so household income outside the Sydney region is accounted for
  • clarify that affordable housing is to be made available for very low, low and moderate-income households or any combination of these households. 

The changes would enable councils to:

  • investigate the need for affordable housing
  • develop an affordable housing contributions scheme
  • levy for the provision of affordable housing.

Councils will still be required to submit an affordable housing contributions scheme as a planning proposal.

The department has developed a draft guideline setting out the process for establishing a scheme and the components to be included.

Visit the department’s website for more information and to provide feedback.

LGNSW is drafting a submission on behalf of the sector.

To provide feedback email Linda Blinkhorn, Senior Planning Policy Officer, LGNSW.

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Waste Management Conference 2019

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There’s still time to submit an abstract for Waste 2019 – Australia’s leading waste and resource recovery conference (Coffs Harbour, 14-16 May).

The conference attracts national and international delegates and covers a wide range of topics with relevance to local government.

Abstracts must be submitted online by 5pm on Friday 21 December. For more information visit the Waste Conference website.

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Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Review

The national Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) is currently under review to consider how well it is performing in its function to prevent exposure to asbestos and eliminate asbestos-related disease in Australia.

ASEA is an independent, federal, statutory authority, established by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Act 2013 in 2013.

The independent review is open for comment until 18 January 2019 and is an important opportunity for councils to have their say.

For further information and to make a submission visit the Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business website.

LGNSW is preparing a sector-wide submission.

To provide input email Daniel Adler Asbestos Policy Project Manager, LGNSW, or call 9242 4128.

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Kosciuszko Wild Horse Panels

Applications are open for membership of a Kosciuszko Wild Horse Community Advisory Panel and a Kosciuszko Wild Horse Scientific Advisory Panel until 21 December.  

The community panel is being established under the Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018 to provide advice to the Environment Minister on the heritage value and management of sustainable wild horse populations in parts of Kosciuszko National Park .

It will also provide input to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s (OEH) draft wild horse heritage management plan.

The scientific panel will provide scientific and technical advice on the development of the draft plan.

For further information and to apply visit the OEH website.

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Travelling Stock Reserves

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The NSW Government is seeking feedback on a draft, statewide plan to enable consistent management of travelling stock reserves across NSW by 21 December 2018.

Travelling stock reserves are parcels of Crown land reserved under legislation for use by travelling stock.

NSW Local Land Services (LLS) is responsible for the care, control and maintenance of more than 500,000 hectares of these reserves in NSW.

Each LLS board will adopt an annual operational plan to drive activities and spending on travelling stock reserves.

Visit the LLS website for more information.

LGNSW is keen to hear councils’ views on this issue. Please email Kirsty McIntyre, Senior Environment Policy Officer, LGNSW.

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Sydney Water Customer Council

LGNSW is seeking nominations from councillors interested in joining the Sydney Water Customer Council.

The customer council includes members from key organisations that represent Sydney Water customers.

LGNSW is seeking nominations from councils where Sydney Water operates (i.e. the Sydney metropolitan area, which includes the Blue Mountains, and the Illawarra.)

Nominees must have:

  • an interest in water related issues
  • an interest in customer service
  • an ability to report their views and those of the wider community
  • an ability to give feedback from council meetings to their member agency and the wider community
  • a commitment to work within the philosophy of the Customer Council Charter.

Membership is for a period of up to three years.

Meetings are held quarterly, usually at Sydney Water's Head Office in Parramatta. The schedule for 2019 is:

  • Wednesday, 13 March
  • Wednesday, 5 June
  • Wednesday, 4 September
  • Wednesday, 4 December

Sitting fees are paid and travel expenses are reimbursed.

Councillors wishing to nominate are required to submit a brief statement addressing the selection criteria contained in the charter and a short resume.

Nominations must be submitted by email to LGNSW by 14 January 2019.

For more information contact Mark Hely, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW.

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NSW Roads and Transport Directorate Management Committee

LGNSW is seeking nominations from councillors for appointment to the NSW Roads and Transport Directorate Management Committee.

The Roads and Transport Directorate helps NSW councils adopt and maintain best practice in the planning, provision and maintenance of local road infrastructure and transport-related issues including road safety. It was set up in 2004 as a joint undertaking between the Local Government Association of NSW, Shires Association of NSW and the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia.

Candidates with experience in and knowledge of, local government, local road infrastructure and related road issues are encouraged to apply.

Appointments correspond with the duration of the LGNSW Board (two years) and meetings are held quarterly, with regular committee meetings either side of the full council meetings. Sitting fees are paid and reasonable travel expenses are reimbursed.

Applications should include a short resume and a letter addressing the selection criteria:

  • interest and experience in roads and transport-related issues, including road safety
  • understanding of local government road funding and asset management principles
  • willingness to represent LGNSW policy and positions
  • ability to report to the LGNSW Board and staff on committee meetings and activities
  • ability to contribute to policy development
  • willingness and capacity to deal with committee business out of session.

Applications must be submitted by email to LGNSW by Monday 14 January 2019.

For further information visit the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia website.

For more information email Sanjiv Sathiah, Senior Policy Officer Roads and Transport, LGNSW, or call 02 9242 4073.

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Local Government Heavy Vehicle Infrastructure Rating Pilot

Austroads, the Australian Road Research Board, and the Australian Local Government Association are seeking council participation in a heavy vehicle infrastructure rating pilot.

The pilot aims to analyse and quantify the level of service delivered by road infrastructure to the heavy vehicle and freight industries.

Its goal is to align heavy vehicle access with the charges paid by the industry so that government funding and maintenance of roads is sustainable.

For further information email Georgia O’Cianain, Assistant Director Transport Economic Reform, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development or call 02 6274 7030.

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Road Data Standards Pilot

Austroads is inviting council road managers to take part in a pilot project to standardise road data sets.

The pilot aims to improve decision making, prioritise maintenance activities and reduce costs.

Participating councils will receive a harmonised data set that complies with the Austroads Data Standard and a better understanding of their road asset performance.

For further information email Angus Draheim, Austroads Data Harmonisation Project Manager or call 0407 678 208.

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