President's Message

Linda ScottWith just over two weeks to go before the NSW State Election, LGNSW and the Country Mayors' Association of NSW welcomed speakers from across the political spectrum to our Leaders Debate today to address the issues that matter most to our sector. Pleasingly there was widespread support for our recycling and libraries campaigns, and for a return of planning powers to local government. See our article

There were many other wins this week:

PLANNING ADVOCACY WIN: Affordable housing SEPP expanded to include all councils – Following successful lobbying by our sector over many years, councils will no longer be required to seek approval to be listed under SEPP 70 before developing an affordable housing contribution scheme. See the NSW Government’s guideline on developing these schemes.

Meanwhile in other planning news, the Seniors Housing SEPP will not apply in heritage conservation areas until 1 July 2020, providing councils with more time to consider seniors housing provisions in their local strategic plans. We also welcome changes to Affordable Housing SEPP, limiting boarding houses to 12 boarding rooms per site within the R2 low density residential zone as a positive first step to helping councils deliver affordable housing. Read more

RECYCLING WIN: Greens commitment – We stepped up the pressure to Save Our Recycling with a forum in Sydney this week and welcomed a commitment from NSW Greens to our campaign objectiveto reinvest 100 per cent of the waste levy in a state-wide approach to recycling and waste management. Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton declined to fully reinvest the waste levy in waste management, calling instead for a national waste levy while Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said NSW Labor was yet to release its waste policy but acknowledged the need for regional facilities. Visit Support Our Recycling to join the campaign and see NSW Election Priority #1

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION WIN: This week Labor committed to invest $500 million in early childhood education in NSW. We call upon the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government to match it. The announcement follows increased advocacy and councils’ concerns over the availability of early childhood education and care, particularly in regional NSW. We continue to push for all NSW children to have access to affordable, high quality early learning for at least two days a week, for two years before formal schooling. See our media release.

Celebrating International Women’s Day – Today we also welcomed guests and key speaker Leigh Sales to a packed-out lunch event to celebrate women’s achievements. Many women make a tremendous contribution to their communities as elected members or council professionals, but in NSW little more than a quarter of our councils’ mayors are women, less than a third of councillors are women and less than a fifth of general managers are women, meaning we lag far behind other states. We can and need to do more.

Photos: LGNSW Chief Executive Tara McCarthy, Leigh Sales and LGNSW President Linda Scott celebrating International Women’s Day; LGNSW International Women’s Day Lunch; LGNSW Save Our Recycling Election Summit; and the Local Government Debate.

Group os pics



Local Government Debate

Seven party leaders from across the NSW political spectrum presented their vision for supporting local government during our Local Government Debate at Parliament House this morning.

Short presentations from the panel followed by questions from the floor, gave attendees the perfect opportunity to gauge support for LGNSW’s 12 NSW Election Priorities 2019.

  • John Barilaro, NSW National Party Leader and NSW Deputy Premier said his focus over the last two and half years had been rebuilding trust following forced amalgamations. He said he was responding to the needs of regional NSW through the Regional Growth Fund and a commitment to invest an additional $1 billion for local roads and country bridges. He said the question over constitutional recognition for councils must be addressed if we wanted sustainable local government for years to come.
  • Mark Latham, One Nation candidate, voiced his opposition to forced council amalgamations and his support to restore the right of metropolitan councils to choose whether to use planning panels.
  • David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrat candidate said local government attracted ‘too many do-gooders who think they know better than everyone else’. He cautioned against increasing rates, and that councils should stick to rates, rubbish and roads, instead of getting involved in areas outside their remit.
  • Former councillor and mayor of Shoalhaven City Council, Paul Green, Christian Democratic Party MLC, said the concept of councils being only about rates, roads and rubbish was long gone and that there was an urgent need to address cost shifting.
  • William Bourke, from Sustainable Australia said he supported a return of planning powers to councils and that local democracy was the best form of democracy.
  • Robert Borsak MLC, from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers said his party had been opposed to forced amalgamations from the start and would support referendums in areas where there were calls for de-amalgamation.
  • David Shoebridge, Greens MLC, said his party was committed to grassroots politics and that councils were best placed to make planning decisions for their communities. In recognition of today being International Women’s Day, he then gave up his place on the all-male panel to Cr Amanda Findlay, Mayor of Shoalhaven City Council.

Highlights from the question and answer session included:

  • Support for our Save Our Recycling campaign aim, to fully reinvest the waste levy in waste management, by all except John Barilaro, Mark Latham and David Leyonhjelm.
  • Strong support for public libraries by all except David Leyonhjelm.
  • Recognition of the need for increased infrastructure
  • Widespread support to return planning powers to communities and for a closer look at cost shifting.
  • Confirmation by John Barilaro that local water utilities will not be privatised if a Liberal National government is re-elected in NSW (following a commitment made by Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair at the recent Western Division Conference.

Thanks to everyone who took part, and to co-hosts, the Country Mayors’ Association.

Note: Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Opposition Leader Michael Daley were invited to attend but sent their apologies.

Please urge your local state candidates to commit to our NSW Election Priorities in the run-up to the election on 23 March – and let us know when they do!

Photos: Cr Katrina Humphries, Chair of the Country Mayors’ Association and LGNSW President Linda Scott; the Local Government Debate panel.

Leaders' debate



Cr Pat Dixon Memorial Scholarship

LGNSW is currently taking applications for this year’s Cr Pat Dixon Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander councillors and council employees in NSW to undertake further study, professional development or research.

It was established in recognition of the late Cr Pat Dixon’s service and achievements in local government and her status as a role model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in NSW.

It provides funding of up to $5000 for one or more scholarship recipients every year.

Visit the LGNSW website to find out more.

Apply online by 6pm on 31 March 2019.

For more information, email Elle Brunsdon, LGNSW Policy Officer, or call 02 9242 4082.


With One Voice Choir Funding

Up to $10,000 is available through Creativity Australia for people or groups who want to start their own With One Voice choir.

The With One Voice movement is about more than singing in a community choir – it’s an opportunity to create real connections between people from diverse backgrounds.

While councils are not eligible to apply on their own, they can partner with local community organisations.

Applications close at 5pm on Friday 29 March 2019.

For further information, visit the Creativity Australia website.


Energy Innovation Conference 2019

The Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC), Riverina Joint Organisation and NSW Office of Environment and Heritage will host the Local Government Energy and Innovation Conference 2019 (Wagga Wagga, 26 March).

The conference will focus on the latest innovations in energy generation, management and efficiency.

It will provide a platform for council staff, councillors and the community to gain information on the latest developments and opportunities in the energy sector.

Contact the REROC office to register by Friday 22 March 2019.


Regulating Child Safe Organisations Discussion Paper

The NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) is seeking feedback on the proposed regulation of child safe standards in organisations across NSW.

The OCG is keen to hear from organisations, including councils, that have contact with and responsibility for children.

The Regulating Child Safe Organisations Discussion Paper for Consultation outlines how organisations will be supported and monitored to implement the 10 child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 

Councils are encouraged to distribute the discussion paper to all staff as child protection is everyone’s responsibility.

To find out more and make a submission, visit the OCG website.

LGNSW is preparing a submission on behalf of the sector. To provide input email Elizabeth Robertson, LGNSW Senior Policy Officer.

Submissions close 29 March 2019.


Our Local Website Launched

The NSW Government has launched a website to help children and young people aged up to 24 years, find local activities, services and events, including those run by councils.

The website includes listings for NSW Government departments, councils, non-government organisations and community groups, as well as commercial providers approved by Creative Kids and Active Kids.

Councils can now upload their own material. To set up an account email Our Local or call 1800 687 562.

Councils are encouraged to promote the website using the resources in the Our Local media kit.


Changes to Housing SEPPs

The NSW Government has made changes to three state environmental planning policies (SEPPs) relating to housing.

These are:

  • Affordable Rental Housing SEPP 2009 – limiting boarding houses to 12 boarding rooms per site within R2 low density residential zones.
  • Affordable Housing Revised Schemes (SEPP 70) – extending the policy to all councils in NSW. A guideline to help councils develop affordable housing schemes is also available.

For more information visit the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website or call 1300 305 695.


Local Strategic Planning Statements

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment, in partnership with the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Local Government, is offering free training sessions to support councils preparing their strategic planning statements.

Following changes to the Environment Planning and Assessment Act last year, councils are required to prepare statements by 1 December 2019 (Sydney councils) and 1 July 2020 (regional councils).

The next round of training will take place in Newcastle on 21-22 March, for the following councils: Central Coast, Cessnock, Dungog, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, MidCoast, Muswellbrook, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Singleton, Upper Hunter.

Register online by Wednesday 13 March 2019.

For more information about local strategic planning statements visit the department's website.


Fire Safety Seminars

The Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) will hold a series of free seminars on a new fire safety accreditation scheme.

These are open to industry and council staff involved in planning, building and fire safety.

Changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 in 2017, mean anyone responsible for designing a fire system or conducting an annual fire safety assessment must be accredited as a competent fire safety practitioner. 

The FPAA’s Fire Protection Accreditation Scheme provides accreditation for fire safety designers and fire safety assessors.

Seminars will be held at various regional locations in late March and early April.

Find out more and register online.


Local Character

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has developed resources to help councils ensure planning decisions recognise, enhance and celebrate local character.

They include a:

  • Local Character and Place Guideline – providing guidance on integrating local character into the planning system
  • Discussion Paper – seeking feedback on the potential introduction of an optional local character overlay with the standard instrument local environmental plan
  • Local Character and Place Collection – case studies from a year-long departmental study.

For more information visit the department's website.


NSW Electric Vehicle Charging Program

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is seeking expressions of interest to provide seed funding – and to partner with councils, industry and business – to deliver electrical vehicle charging stations in regional NSW and commuter carparks in the Greater Sydney metropolitan area.

The process will be carried out in two stages:

  • expressions of interest and evaluation of respondents
  • inviting shortlisted respondents to submit proposals.

Visit the NSW e-Tendering to register.

TfNSW will hold a briefing session on 14 March to provide applicants with more information and the opportunity to meet potential partners.

Attendees will have the chance to make a five-minute pitch on who they are, what they offer and who they are looking to collaborate with.

Register online.


Support for Road Managers

LGNSW recently met with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to discuss the support available to council road managers.

In addition to ongoing forums for council road managers, the NHVR webpage for local government contains useful resources including publications and information on the process to return delegations to the NHVR.

See also the NHVR YouTube channel for training and awareness sessions.


Introduction to Property Management

LGNSW has developed a new e-learning program on property management in local government.

Property 101 is designed for council staff who are new to their role and council professionals who require an understanding of property, e.g. finance, asset management, legal and administrative staff, and councillors.

The 1.5-hour program covers:

  • the main responsibilities and functions of property management in local government
  • the four main types of land and council land functions
  • valuing and acquiring land
  • key legislation
  • internal and external stakeholders
  • delegations, decisions and policies.

Members of the Australian Property Institute and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors who complete this course will be awarded 1.5 points/hours.

Register online.