President's Message

Scott-HancockWELCOME MINISTER HANCOCK We took the opportunity to welcome the Minister for Local Government, the Hon Shelley Hancock, to her new portfolio this morning and noted the positive reception she has received from our councils. 

I’m pleased the Minister is committed to working as an equal partner to develop an intergovernmental agreement, in line with the Premier’s commitment during the NSW State Election.

As we committed to you, we raised a wide range of matters where we wish to work with the Minister on reform of local government, especially on the financial sustainability of our sector.

I thanked the Minister for her advocacy to date on the issue of sudden increases to the emergency services levy (ESL). We look forward to working with the Minister to encourage her colleagues to consider the need for the NSW Government to cover the cost of the increases for the first year, and work with councils to redesign the funding arrangements to ensure fairness for councils and communities.

We look forward to talking with Minister Hancock regularly to progress these and other issues on behalf of members.

EMERGENCY SERVICES LEVY ADVOCACY – The sudden and large ESL bill increases dominated our agenda this week.

As many councils would now know, the higher charges reflect the NSW Government’s expected increase in costs ($160 million) to provide better workers’ compensation coverage for firefighters diagnosed with one of 12 specific work-related cancers.

Thank you to the many councils that have contacted us expressing strong support for the new workers’ compensation scheme, but deep concerns about the significantly increased costs passed on to councils with no consultation, particularly at this time when budgets for the coming year are already committed. 

LGNSW strongly supports fair and appropriate workers’ compensation for firefighters – and all emergency workers. 

However, we are concerned about the Government’s decision to implement this scheme by billing councils for the additional costs. 

Here’s what we know:

  • The State Government has increased council contributions by $19 million in 2019-20, of which $14 million is to support volunteer and career firefighters diagnosed with cancer.
  • Future increases are also foreshadowed. 

We are calling upon the NSW Government to:

  • fund the increased cost of the ESL for the first year, and  
  • work with local governments to design a better, fairer funding mechanism in future.  

 Here’s what you can do:

For more details and to share your councils’ actions with us, please contact Mark Hely at LGNSW.

PLACING RURAL HEALTH ON THE NATIONAL AGENDA In the lead up to the federal election, we worked with Temora and neighbouring councils to host another of our summits, this time focussed on regional health.

As the only sphere of government embedded in rural and small communities, councils often take on extra responsibility where the needs of their communities are unmet by state and federal governments. This summit brought councils together to discuss health initiatives and experiences.  The urgent need for all levels of government to work in partnership to engage doctors in rural towns was highlighted at our 2018 annual conference.  Thanks to our hosts, panellists and all who attended.

COUNCIL VISITS –Thank you to mayors, councillors and staff from Coolamon, Temora, Hilltops, Cootamundra-Gundagai and Junee councils who met with us this week to share their thoughts for our future advocacy agenda.

Photos: Visiting Coolamon, Cootamundra-Gundagai, Hilltops, Temora and Junee councils; the front page of the Temora Independent newspaper highlighted our summit.

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LGNSW seeks feedback on Aboriginal Constitutional Recognition Position Statement

Resolution 68 from the 2018 Annual Conference called on LGNSW to update its Aboriginal Constitutional Recognition Position Statement in consultation with members, once the report of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples was released in November 2018. 

LGNSW supports the principle of the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and has made draft updates to the position statement to reflect the recommendations of the committee and the local government context.  

Copies of the draft statement were emailed to mayors and general managers on 6 May. Councils are invited to review the draft updated position statement and provide feedback on the proposed changes by Friday 17 May.  

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

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Get Ready for Local Government Week (29 July – 4 August)

Now is the time to start preparing for your council’s Local Government Week activities.

This week gives us a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate the work and services councils provide to their communities – through events and social and traditional media.

If you’re planning an event or special initiative, consider doing it during this week or use the opportunity to promote your staff and services.  

Last year 67 councils took part, an increase of over 50 per cent on the previous year.  This year we want we want to do better again and get every council in NSW on board.

So it’s time to start brainstorming, planning and getting your council to support your ideas.

We’re planning ahead too and getting ready to provide you with a bunch of ways to promote your council in your community.

Check #LGWeek2018 to see what other councils did last year and see our website page which contains graphics for download.

We’ll keep you up to date as we go. In the meantime, get ready! 

And remember, the Local Government Week Awards are open now. Get your entries in by 3 June.

 

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Regional Achievement and Community Awards NSW/ACT

Nominations are now open in the Regional Achievement and Community Awards, which recognise and reward individuals, communities and businesses making a difference in regional and rural NSW.

 

If you know someone whose contribution deserves recognition, you can nominate them in one of eight categories:

  • Small Business Achievement
  • Connecting Communities
  • Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management
  • Crown Land Manager
  • Agricultural Innovation
  • Employer Excellence in Aged Care
  • Customer Service
  • Leadership

The awards are open to individuals, councils, volunteer groups, businesses and others who make a valuable contribution to their regional or rural community.
Find full details on the awards website and apply online by 31 July. 

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Help Shape the National Disability Strategy Beyond 2020

Australian governments are asking people to help shape the future of Australian disability policy for 2020 and beyond. 

The first National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 paved the way for how governments could help improve the lives of people with disability. The strategy will end in 2020 and all Australian governments are working together to develop a new one.

The strategy is about creating a more inclusive society that enables Australians with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens. It guides governments and other organisations to build the wellbeing of people with disability and their carers. 

It is also the main way Australia implements the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As one in five Australians have a disability, a new strategy needs to reflect the changing environment such as the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and build on opportunities available today, as well as what may emerge over the next decade. 

All Australians, including people with disability, their families and carers are being urged to have their say on the priorities and actions of the next strategy. It is equally important all parts of the community, including business, health services and schools have an opportunity to take part to help make our communities more inclusive.

The first stage of consultation is from April to June 2019 and is being coordinated by the National Disability Policy Reform Section, Department of Social Services. All consultations are accessible for people with disability. You can have your say through:

  • a public survey (from mid-April)
  • face-to-face community workshops in every state and territory (from 29 April)
  • online forums (from mid-May).

Councils are encouraged to promote engagement in these consultations within their local communities. More information and registration for a community workshop is available online.
 

The New Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle Notice has Commenced

The new National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Mass and Dimension Exemption Notice commenced on 1 May.

The Agricultural Exemption Notice will replace current access arrangements under existing legal instruments that vary from state to state. It is designed to benefit farmers who need to move combination agricultural equipment on public roads.  

Specific information for council road managers about the new exemption notice is in the latest fact sheet.

From 1 May there will be a transition period where agricultural vehicles and combinations may operate under the new national notice or the current state agricultural vehicle notices. The transition period runs until 30 April 2020, or until current state notices expire, whichever happens first.

Full information can be found on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website.

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IPART Review of Cemetery Interment Costs and Pricing

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) is seeking written submissions on an issues paper released this week as part of its review of costs of and pricing for interment in NSW cemeteries

The review will provide guidance to NSW cemeteries about pricing of interment services in the context of changed legislation (particularly the introduction of optional renewable interment rights) and the approaching exhaustion of burial space in Sydney.

Councils provide most of the interments in regional areas outside of Sydney and manage more than 1,000 cemeteries across the state. However, more than 80% of these cemeteries are closed or conduct fewer than 10 burials per year. 

The issues paper seeks responses to 24 questions, including: 

  • the type of land that is the most likely source of increased cemetery capacity
  • costs involved in developing land for use as a cemetery 
  • financial provision and responsibility for maintaining closed cemeteries in perpetuity
  • costs of interment
  • payment of the Crown Cemetery Levy to fund the operations of Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW
  • interment costs and pricing generally, including their community impacts. 

IPART will release its draft report in September 2019 for consultation, and a final report to the minister in December. 

LGNSW is now preparing a submission. To provide input, please review the issues paper and email Damian Thomas, LGNSW Policy Officer, your comments by Monday 27 May. 

Submissions provided directly to IPART are due by 7 June.

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