President's Message

Cr Linda ScottTake Action: NSW Election priorities 2019 – Happy New Year! As we begin 2019, we’re launching our NSW Election campaign on your behalf.

Together, local governments will be calling on all parties and candidates to commit to act on 12 critical areas which will improve the lives of our communities by helping local government deliver better infrastructure and services to the people of NSW.

These priorities have been identified by you: by resolution at our 2018 Annual Conference; through your feedback and contributions to member surveys and research, and your submissions. They are reasonable and realistic. They are not party political; but focus on outcomes that will build our state’s economy while making it a better place to live.

2019 NSW Election priorities

  1. Save recycling: Reinvest 100 per cent of the $727 million NSW Waste Levy collected each year – $300 million from councils alone – to develop a modern, smart resource recovery and recycling industry, generating new jobs and industries, and creating a circular economy to manage our waste right here in NSW.
  2. Fund public libraries properly: Double library funding by providing an additional $94 million over the next four years with indexation. In line with NSW law, commit to providing 50 per cent of funding required for NSW public libraries, in perpetuity.
  3. Fund local infrastructure: Commit to an infrastructure funding program allowing councils to keep pace with population growth through planning; building and maintaining local roads and freight routes; delivering cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, green space, community infrastructure such as pools and parks, and sporting facilities.
  4. Restore planning powers to communities: Restore the right for metropolitan councils to choose whether to use local planning panels, giving neighbourhoods the capacity to make decisions about developments that affect them. Fix the NSW private certification system and work with local government when setting housing targets.
  5. End cost shifting: Establish a public inquiry into cost shifting, which has seen councils forced to shoulder the burden of more than $820 million shifted from the NSW Government each year. See our latest report here.
  6. Allow greater financial independence: Allow councils to levy rates up to two per cent over the rate peg limit without having to seek special rate variation approval.  Forty years of rate pegging in NSW has crippled councils financially. Variations are overwhelmingly approved, strongly supported by communities, but involve significant and unnecessary red tape. 
  7. Support disadvantaged communities: Provide untied, recurrent grants in identified disadvantaged, low socioeconomic communities so councils can deliver much-needed, local support and services.
  8. Protect ownership of local water utilities: Commit to protecting local water utilities from privatisation so water supply and sewerage services are secure for the 1.8 million people in regional NSW who depend on them.
  9. Renew the intergovernmental agreement with LGNSW: Treat councils as an equal in all issues affecting them and the communities they serve.
  10. Fix local government electoral and expenditure laws: Implement the NSW parliamentary recommendations to fix local government electoral expenditure laws to ensure NSW local government elections are fair.
  11. Allow fair superannuation for mayors and councillors: Ensure mayors and councillors are entitled to receive superannuation, just like elected state and federal parliamentarians and everyone else in the Australian workforce.
  12. Address skills shortages in the sector: Fund a new, annual $10 million program to increase the number of cadets, apprentices, trainees and university graduates employed by councils to combat current skills shortages for planners, engineers, building surveyors, tradespeople and others (see our Future Skills report).

Download our NSW Election Priorities document (or email us for a printed supply).

We will continue to lobby all parties on these issues in the lead-up to the election and keep an election scorecard. These issues will also be a focus at the upcoming Local Government Debate on 8 March, where major parties will present their views.

I look forward to working with you to advocate for a better deal for NSW councils and communities.

P.S. I encourage you to meet with your local state candidates and urge them to commit to these priorities – and let us know when they do! Share your advocacy work by tagging @LGNSW on twitter and including #LocalGov2019.


Grace Period for Parking Fines

The NSW Government will introduce a 10-minute grace period for paid parking from 31 January 2019.

The grace period will apply to all NSW parking fine issuing authorities, including NSW Government agencies, councils and universities.

All councils must comply with these new arrangements.

The parking fine grace period will apply when all the following conditions are met:

  • a fee has been paid for one hour or more immediately before the grace period commences
  • a coupon or ticket stating the time of parking is clearly displayed
  • parking is not in a shared zone or other excluded area.

For more information download the information sheet for councils.

The grace period does not apply to metered parking due to the complexity of determining whether a full hour of paid parking has occurred before the meter expired.

Information was provided to mayors in December 2018 and the NSW Government Fines Review Project Team will follow up with all councils during January 2019.

Treasury’s Fines Review Parking Team has asked councils to email NSW Treasury to provide up-to-date contact details.

Implementation actions for councils include:

  • advising their parking inspectors of the changes and their responsibilities to ensure a smooth implementation from 31 January 2019
  • updating relevant manuals and other communications before 31 January
  • promoting the grace period changes within their communities so people know about the new arrangements.

For more information visit NSW Treasury.


Kaldas Review Released

The NSW Government has accepted all 19 recommendations made by former NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas in his recently-published Review of Governance in the Planning System.

The recommendations include:

  • creation of a new ethics unit in the NSW Department of Planning and Environment
  • retaining mandatory local planning panels for Greater Sydney and Wollongong, and considering extending these to the Central Coast and Newcastle
  • mandatory probity checks for all Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels members
  • an audit of infrastructure contributions.

The full report is available on the department’s website.


NSW Government Response to Opal Tower Incident

The NSW Minister for Better Regulation has announced a four-point strategy to improve the private certification industry in response to the Opal Tower incident.

The strategy will include:

  • Stronger compliance measures, with 25-30 per cent of the industry to be audited every year in a strike-force style approach.
  • A new disciplinary policy that will see certifiers immediately expelled from the industry for corruption or negligently signing-off on a building which is unsafe or structurally unsound.
  • Better protection for strata buildings, with certifiers unable to work on new strata developments if they have breached the code of conduct in any way, in the previous 12 months, regarding building quality.
  • Increased transparency, including more information for homeowners about a certifier’s disciplinary record, on an enhanced name and shame register. Prospective buyers of off-the-plan developments will be provided with information about a certifier’s history.

While the cause of the problems in the Opal Tower building are still being investigated, LGNSW welcomes the overdue strategy to improve the building certification industry.

LGNSW has long advocated for a more robust and reputable regulatory regime, including the need for more auditing and disciplinary enforcement of certifiers.

The strategy is a positive step towards addressing ongoing concerns councils have about building defects and illegal work.


Private Native Forestry Review – Submissions Deadline Extended

The deadline for submissions on the terms of reference for a review of private native forestry has been extended until 15 February 2019.

The NSW Government review seeks to balance sustainable development of the private native timber and agricultural industries with the environmental value of native forestry.

It will cover:

  • codes of practice
  • rules and regulations
  • authorisation processes
  • training and advisory services.

For more information and to make a submission visit the NSW Local Land Services website.

LGNSW is preparing a submission on behalf of the sector.

To provide input email Kirsty McIntyre, Senior Environment Policy Officer, LGNSW.


Disaster Assistance for NSW Communities

Disaster assistance is available for the Hills, Hornsby, Parramatta, Campbelltown and Sutherland local government areas affected by severe storms and flooding from 13 December 2018.

Assistance is available for costs incurred in cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets.

Community members in affected areas who are uninsured, have sustained damage to homes or contents, and meet an assets and income test may also be eligible for assistance.

Concessional interest rate loans for small businesses and not-for-profit organisations, and grants for sport and recreation clubs are also available.

For further information visit the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website and the NSW Office of Emergency Management website.


Austroads Webinar: Level of Service Requirements for Heavy Vehicles

Austroads will hold a one-hour webinar on 31 January about a proposed ride quality index of roads for heavy vehicles.

The webinar will cover the background and findings of a recent study of road pavement quality.

It will outline a proposed index for measuring the ride quality of freight vehicles and how road design influences driver perceptions of safety and comfort.

Register online.

For more information visit the Austroads website.


Business Case Program for Location-Specific Heavy Vehicle Charging Trials

The Australian Government's Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities is seeking applications for the second round of its Business Case Program for Location-Specific Heavy Vehicle Charging Trials

Councils, industry and stakeholders can apply for funding to develop a business case to test the willingness of heavy vehicle road users to pay an additional charge for a productivity benefit from a road upgrade.

Proposals will progress to business case development if they have strong industry and stakeholder support.

Visit the department’s website to download an application form.

For more information email Lulu Ou, A/Director Trials Business Case Program, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, or call 02 6274 8335.


Local Government Remuneration Tribunal

Members are advised the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal has commenced its 2019 review of the fees payable to mayors and councillors.

Pursuant to s. 241 of the Local Government Act 1993, the tribunal is required to make an annual determination on the fees payable to mayors and councillors by no later than 1 May of each year.

Every three years, the tribunal is also required to review the categorisation of councils. As a new categorisation model for remuneration purposes was determined in 2017, the tribunal will next consider the model in 2020.

The tribunal has noted that as part of the 2019 review, it will consider any requests to review the categorisation of individual councils if there is a strong case to do so.

In preparation, members are requested to advise LGNSW if they will be making a submission to the tribunal, and to share their submissions with LGNSW in advance.

Members making submissions to the tribunal for the 2019 review are encouraged to email Blake Robson, LGNSW Industrial Officer or call 02 9242 4148 before 21 January 2019.