President's Message

Cr Linda ScottSTATE BUDGET DELIVERS MIXED FORTUNES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT – There was good and bad news for councils in this week’s budget, with more money for drought support, water infrastructure, libraries and roads, but no allocation to address the recent increase to the emergency services levy and a failure to respond to the growing waste crisis.

Thanks to everyone for campaigning on our advocacy priorities – by standing together on key issues we have been able to secure significant wins for the sector.

We hope you enjoyed live updates on our budget blog throughout the day. For a quick update see our media release.

Local government highlights

The good news

  • An additional $355m for drought assistance, over and above the commitment of $400m made during the election campaign.
  • Substantial investment in water infrastructure to secure town water supplies, primarily through the $1b Safe and Secure Water Program.
  • Public library expenditure will increase by $12.9m from $23.5m in 2018-19 to $36.5m in 2019-20 - an increase of 55 per cent. Congratulations to all councils who helped secure this increase in funding for public libraries ($60m over four years) by supporting the Renew our Libraries campaign.
  • Stronger Country Communities Fund extended by one year, with, up to half the $100m funding dedicated to regional youth infrastructure and programs.
  • $97.2m in 2019-20 for the Regional Connectivity program with a total of $518.8m to be allocated over four years.
  • As promised during the lead-up to the election, $1b in new funding to fix local roads and timber bridges.
  • The Restart NSW budget for 2019-20 includes $268.4m for the freight-based Bridges for the Bush Program, $354.3m for the Fixing Country Roads program (also a freight-based initiative) and $222.8m for the Fixing Country Rail program designed to ease network constraints affecting rail freight.
  • A significant spend on public transport infrastructure over the next four years in metropolitan Sydney.
  • $57m for the development of new walking and cycling infrastructure across the state in 2019-20.
  • Investment in vocational education and training, totalling $2.3 billion in 2019-20, with around $1.85b allocated to TAFE NSW.
  • $2.8b to recruit a total of 8,300 frontline health staff, over four years, with 45 per cent located in regional NSW.
  • $37.5m in 2019-20 to fund new and improved parklands under the government’s $150m Strategic Open Space program.
  • $5.4m ($22.4m over four years) to expand the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative, which will see a continuation of an ongoing partnership between Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.
  • $32.3m in 2019-20 ($65m over three years) to protect threatened plants, animals and ecological communities, through the State’s Saving Our Species program and New South Wales Koala Strategy.
  • $54m for councils to manage the NSW coastline and mitigate future coastal risks and hazards as part of the Coastal and Estuary Grants Program.
  • $20m over four years in new and existing community preschools to provide for an additional 2300 preschool places.

The bad news

  • No transitional funding to smooth the government’s shock transfer to councils of an additional $19 million in annual contributions to the Emergency Services Levy (ESL). Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock has been very receptive to our concerns so far and we’ll continue to advocate as she works with her government colleagues to find a resolution to this issue.
  • No specific allocation to support the development of Joint Organisations of councils, but we are hopeful a positive announcement will be made soon.
  • Insufficient funding to help councils comply with the government’s new requirement that they prepare plans for Crown lands under their management.
  • Failure to effectively respond to the growing waste crisis by reinvesting the Waste Levy – which now stands at $772m per year – in a coordinated state-wide approach to drive down waste generation and move the NSW economy to a circular economy.

FOCUS ON NATIONAL ISSUES – I was in Canberra at the start of the week for the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA’s) National General Assembly and was honoured to have the opportunity to address delegates.

We were grateful that our new federal Minister Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Assistant Minister for Trade and Investment took the time to meet LGNSW Board members Darriea Turley, Julie Griffiths, Ruth Fagan, Michael Regan, Marianne Saliba, Ben Shields and Phyllis Miller who were attending the ALGA Conference at Parliament House, Canberra, and held a special session for available NSW mayors and delegates to introduce himself.

During the assembly, it was good to hear Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Michael McCormack committing his personal support to local government constitutional recognition to ensure local governments can best support our communities.

Thanks also to Shadow Federal Minister for Local Government Jason Clare MP for attending the Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA) breakfast and congratulations to new ALGWA president, and LGNSW Board member, Shellharbour City Council Mayor Marianne Saliba.

REGISTER NOW FOR OUR ANNUAL WATER MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE – LGNSW’s Water Management Conference is the premier event for NSW councils to get up to date with all the latest developments in water policy, water management, and water supply and sewerage services provided by council-owned and operated local water utilities. Read more

THINKING BIG ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS IN NARRABRI – I’m excited to invite you to the next LGNSW Summit, co-hosted by Narrabri Shire Council, on the topic of ‘Councils thinking big about small business’ (Wednesday 24 July). During the summit, mayors, councillors and general managers will explore opportunities for small businesses in their communities and share initiatives and experiences with neighbouring councils. We’re delighted NSW Small Business Commissioner Ms Robyn Hobbs OAM will be our guest speaker. Find out more and register on the LGNSW website.

Photos: LGNSW President Linda Scott addressing ALGA’s National General Assembly; LGNSW Board members with Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Assistant Minister for Trade and Investment; Shadow Federal Minister for Local Government Jason Clare MP attending the ALGWA breakfast.

Cr Linda Scott NGA 2019

Minister Coulton and LGNSW Board

ALGWA and Minister


LGNSW Water Management Conference 2019

Registrations are now open for this year’s LGNSW Water Management Conference (Albury, 2-4 September 2019).

The conference is the leading event for NSW councils to get up to date with the latest developments in water policy, water management, and issues associated with water supply and sewerage services provided by council-owned and operated local water utilities.

With much of NSW in the grip of severe drought, many councils are facing significant and unprecedented challenges in providing their communities with an ongoing supply of safe water.

This year’s conference focusses on these challenges from a variety of perspectives, including government policy, innovation, collaboration and community.

On day one, we’ll hear from the Minister for Water (invited) about the NSW Government’s urban water policy agenda and priorities for water security; find out the Bureau of Meteorology’s latest predictions; and hear what the Regional Town Water Supply Coordinator thinks are some of the short-term fixes and long-term solutions to water security.

The Office of Emergency Management will discuss the criticality of water and sewer infrastructure in the context of drought, while the Department of Industry – Water will discuss how it is working with water utilities on a regional basis to improve water security and planning.

On day two, the focus shifts to issues of governance and oversight, with a panel of councillors sharing their experiences in water policy, oversight and management.

View the draft program.

Register online. Early bird discounts are available until Friday 12 July.

Details on accommodation and travel to the conference in Albury can also be found on the LGNSW website



Local Government Week Awards Evening 2019

Tickets are on sale for this year’s Local Government Week Awards Evening (Swissotel, Market Street, Sydney, 1 August).

Join us to celebrate the outstanding achievements of councils and individuals within local government. 

Comedian Joel Ozborn will facilitate the presentation of the following:

  • LGNSW RH Dougherty Awards
  • LGNSW Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture Awards
  • LGNSW Planning Awards sponsored by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment
  • Youth Week Awards sponsored by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.

Tickets are available online ($143 each or $1,330 for a table of 10) until Monday 22 July 2019, if not sold out by then. 

For further information visit the LGNSW website.

LGNSW would like to thank Elite Sponsor, Statewide Mutual.


Review of Costs of Conducting Local Government Elections – Forum

Interested stakeholders are invited to attend a public forum on the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review of costs of conducting local government elections (Sydney, 2 July). 

The forum will include presentations on the recommendations in IPART’s draft report (due to be published 25 June).

There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.

Register online to secure a place. 


Arts Activated 2019

Registrations are now open for Arts Activated 2019 – NSW’s only all-inclusive arts conference (Sydney Olympic Park, 22 and 23 August).

Arts Activated is one of Australia’s leading forums for learning how to make arts, culture and events more accessible for people who are hearing impaired or have a physical disability.

The program will feature several high profile Australian and international guests (to be confirmed in the final program, available late July).

Topics will include:

  • reshaping the disability arts narrative
  • developing inclusive performances, programs and venues
  • advancing authentic casting
  • the future of accessible tech/design
  • unpacking disability inclusion action plans
  • the intersection of identities
  • boosting training and career development for artists and arts workers with disability. 

Register on the Arts Activated 2019 website (discounts available until 24 June). 


Youth Council Conference

This year’s NSW Youth Council Conference 2019 will be hosted by Blacktown Youth Advisory Committee and Blacktown City Council at West HQ, Rooty Hill, from 13-15 September.

The conference is open to youths aged 12-24, who are residents of NSW and current members of a youth council or youth advisory group for a council, non-government organisations, peak government body or high school.

Councils in remote and rural NSW are encouraged to apply for a financial assistance to help with transport, accommodation and conference costs.

For more information and to register, visit the 2019 NSW Youth Council Conference website


Increasing Awareness of Community Transport in CALD Communities

The Community Transport brochure has been translated into 11 non-English languages to increase awareness of the service in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

They include: Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, Hindi, Spanish, Korean, Tamil and Filipino

Community Transport is a NSW Government-subsidised service that helps people remain connected to their community by providing transport to shopping areas, medical and social services, as well as social activities and recreational areas.

The service is available to: 

  • people who are financially disadvantaged, isolated, lack access to public transport or have a mobility impairment
  • older people who are frail and their carers 
  • people with disabilities and their carers.

If your council would like some brochures (both hard copy and electronic are available) email Li Ji, CALD Officer at Transport for NSW by 11 July 2019.  

For further information, visit the Transport for NSW website. 

Photograph: Leichhardt Community Bus


Discussion Paper on Digital Planning

NSW Department of Planning and Environment is seeking feedback on its discussion paper ‘Towards Digital Plan Making’ until 28 June 2019.

As part of the NSW ePlanning initiative, the department is moving towards digital plans (including PDF maps) as the legal map reference of local environment plans and other planning documents.

The digital maps will be stored in a centralised geospatial database and be available to all stakeholders through the NSW Planning Portal, for use in organisations’ own IT and geographic information systems.

To find out more and have your say, visit the department’s website.

Contact: Tim Archer.


Draft Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program – Open for Comment

The NSW Natural Resources Commission is seeking comment on the draft program strategy for the NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program. 

The NSW Premier has asked the commission to independently oversee and advise on a state-wide monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement program for NSW forests. 

The program aims to improve forest management across state forests, national parks, private native forests and crown forested land.

Email your comments to the Natural Resources Commission by 4 July 2019. 


National Heavy Vehicle Law Review Issues Paper 3


The National Transport Commission (NTC) has published information outlining its approach to the current review of National Heavy Vehicle Law (NHVL).

The NTC is inviting stakeholders to provide feedback between February 2019 and February 2020.

LGNSW will be making submissions on each of the eight proposed issues papers on behalf of councils.

The third issues paper – Easy Access to Suitable Routes - has now been published, focussing on making access for heavy vehicles to local road networks easier.

Feedback on this paper closes on Friday 16 August 2019. 

For further information about the review or to provide input to LGNSW’s submissions, contact LGNSW Senior Policy Officer Sanjiv Sathiah