President's Message

Linda ScottFOCUSSING ON THE DROUGHT - As the Task Force headed by Major-General Stephen Day concluded its operations on 28 June, and its responsibilities will now be absorbed by the Department of Agriculture, the time for further State and Federal Government action is now.

We welcome the Federal Government’s response to our advocacy, but more is needed.

This drought is devastating our rural and regional communities. There are countless towns throughout the state whose water supplies are at critically low levels. We’re pleased that persistent lobbying on your behalf has paid off with an additional $355m allocated for drought assistance during the recent state budget (over and above the $400m commitment made during the election campaign). We’re also pleased that much-needed water security and on-farm assistance programs will be extended. We’re not resting on our laurels, however, and because there’s no end in sight to this drought we’ll continue to lobby hard at all levels.

We’re keen to hear about your drought projects. Please contact LGNSW Chief Economist Shaun McBride with details.

BUILDING SAFETY AND CLADDING – LGNSW is stepping up its advocacy for a coordinated approach to managing non-compliant external combustible cladding across the state and we need your local examples to add to our submission to the upcoming parliamentary inquiry.

LGNSW seeks the following from the NSW Government on this issue: 

  • Clear communication between state agencies and local government about roles, responsibilities and expectations.
  • Guidance for issuing notices and orders to building owners.
  • Consistent FAQs and other supporting information to which councils can refer the public when they enquire about this issue.
  • Opportunities to share information between state agencies and councils about how they are managing their regulation and enforcement responsibilities regarding cladding.

LGNSW continues to maintain that these must be addressed in the context of the urgent and longstanding need to tackle the many deficiencies of the building and planning regulatory systems that have been identified in successive government reviews.  Please send your local examples, feedback or questions to LGNSW Strategy Manager Jane Partridge.

COMMITMENT TO MAKE FUNDING FOR COUNCIL YOUTH PROGRAMS EASIER - I was pleased to secure a commitment from Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronwyn Taylor that she would make it easy for regional councils to apply for the $50m Stronger Country Communities funding we welcomed in this year’s budget, to ease the overwhelm of applying for government grant programs. The Minister agrees this funding will help councils provide much-needed youth mental health programs, after I shared with her some of the recent tragic suicides and attempts that have occurred in your communities. 

CRUNCH TIME: EMERGENCY SERVICES LEVY INCREASE - I am looking forward to meeting with Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott on your behalf next week to impress upon him the impact this unexpected, $19m increase in the emergency services levy will have on councils and communities this year. We need to act now.

What can you do?

  1. If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to support our advocacy by downloading and actioning our Draft Mayoral Minute. About 90 councils have contacted LGNSW to express their outrage at the increase and most of these have made council resolutions opposing the increase.
  2. Your specific stories that demonstrate the negative impact this tax will have on your communities – particularly in regional NSW - will help us tell the human and community cost of this tax. Please contact LGNSW Chief Economist Shaun McBride

For other matters you wish us to raise with us about the Emergency Services Minister, please contact Shaun McBride.

SPOTLIGHT ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT – I was honoured to address delegates to the BusNSW Conference in the Blue Mountains this week to see how we can better work together to advocate for better, safer public transport, including the difficult issue of informal bus stops and drop off points, in line with our Conference resolution.

While we are working with all stakeholders to improve road safety, what we don’t want to see is fresh cost shifting, given that councils are increasingly being asked to pay for infrastructure and services that could fairly be expected to be funded by other tiers of government. We are calling upon the NSW Government to hold a public inquiry into cost shifting so that no new, increased or transferred responsibilities will be imposed on local government without a sufficient corresponding source of revenue or revenue-raising capacity (Advocacy Priority #5). To raise cost shifting concerns contact LGNSW Chief Economist Shaun McBride or, for transport queries, LGNSW Senior Policy Officer Sanjiv Sathiah.

CHILD SAFETY – THE ROLE OF COUNCILS – The Australian Government has written to the Australian Local Government Association to ensure councils are aware of the recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, suggesting local governments should designate child safety officers from existing staff profiles.

As leaders in the community and providers of services to children, councils have a responsibility to ensure they are child safe institutions. Cumberland Council will host a child protection forum on 5 September – full details to follow. Read more.

Please contact LGNSW Policy Officer Elizabeth Robertson with any questions.

MEET THE PREMIER AT LGNSW CONFERENCE BREAKFAST – As part of this year’s LGNSW Annual Conference, we’ll be holding a Meet the Politician’s Breakfast (14 October, Warwick Farm). Entry is free to all members registered to attend the conference (simply select the breakfast as part of your registration). We’re looking forward to meeting Premier Gladys Berejiklian MP and Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock MP, along with other key politicians representing portfolios important to local government.

Find out more and register online. To assist with your travel plans, download the draft program.

UPCOMING MINISTERIAL AND OTHER MEETINGS – I will be meeting with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade John Barilaro and Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst in coming weeks. Please contact LGNSW Director Advocacy Kylie Yates if you would like us to raise any issues on your behalf.

Photo: Meeting with Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronwyn Taylor.

Linda Scott and Minister for Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women Bronwyn Taylor.

 

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Child Safe Organisations

The NSW Office the Children’s Guardian has released its Making organisations safer for children report, outlining how organisations will be required to meet child safe standards in NSW. 

The report follows consultation earlier this year on the Regulating child safe organisations discussion paper (see LGNSW’s submission).

 

The NSW Government has tasked the Office of the Children’s Guardian with designing an approach to regulating child safe standards in NSW that reflect recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The office will take a principle-based approach (rather than a prescriptive rules-based approach) to regulation, to build organisational capability while incorporating the necessary powers to implement site inspections and financial penalties.

The report clarifies the use of the term ‘child’, stipulating that child-safe organisations have a responsibility to all people under the age of 18.

It also clarifies that a regulated entity is any organisation where at least one person in the organisation is required to hold, or holds, a Working With Children Check in NSW and contact with children is a usual part of the organisation’s work.

National Heavy Vehicle Law Review Issues Paper 5

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is inviting stakeholders to provide feedback on its review of National Heavy Vehicle Law.

Comments are being sought on a series of eight issues papers, with the fifth one – Vehicle standards and safety – now open for comment on the  NTC website until Friday 30 August 2019.

LGNSW is making submissions on all the papers on behalf of councils. For further information about the review or to contribute to LGNSW’s submissions, contact Senior Policy Officer Sanjiv Sathiah.

Local Government (State) Award 2017

Government funded traineeship wage rates and meal allowances under the Local Government (State) Award 2017 (State Award) have been varied.

Government funded traineeship wage rates (clause 30E(xii) of the State Award) have been varied to reflect an increase in traineeship wage rates under the federal Local Government Industry Award 2010 (the ‘Federal Award’).

Meal allowances (clause 15(xiv) of the State Award) have been varied to reflect an increase in the meal allowances under the Federal Award.

The above variations took effect on and from 1 July 2019.

The new rates and allowances are as follows: 

Clause 30E (XII) – Traineeship wage rates

 

Highest Year of School Completed

 

Year 10 $

Year 11 $

Year 12 $

School Leaver

332.80

366.50

436.60

Plus 1 year out of school

366.50

436.60

508.10

Plus 2 years

436.60

508.10

591.30

Plus 3 years

508.10

591.30

677.00

Plus 4 years

591.30

677.00

 

Plus 5 years or more

677.00

   

 

Monetary rates – Table 2 allowances (extract)

Clause 15(xiv) Meal Allowance

15.94

15.94

15.94

Subscribers to LGNSW’s online Human Resources Toolkit, LGNSW HR Advance, can download a consolidated copy of the Award from the LGNSW HR Advance website. The LGNSW’s Award Supply Service will receive an update in coming weeks.

For further information, contact LGNSW’s Industrial Relations Unit on 02 9242 4142.

Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies

The Therapeutic Goods Administration this week clarified that state and territory governments will continue to be responsible for regulating fluoride in reticulated drinking water.

Thanks to all those NSW councils that have been working with LGNSW to clarify the role of local government in the fluoridation of public water supplies. 

A media release from the Therapeutic Good Administration issued on Monday stated: 'Legislative amendments made on 11 July 2019 put an end to any uncertainties about regulatory responsibility by explicitly excluding fluoridated drinking water from the scope of Australia's therapeutic goods legislation.'
 
This means that the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) does not impact on councils adding fluorine to public water supplies in accordance with their responsibilities under the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957 (NSW).  
 
Further information is available from NSW Health.

Australian Water Association Conference

The Australian Water Association’s 2019 NSW State Conference is coming up in Orange from 8-9 August.

Under the theme ‘Strengthening Communities through Collaboration and Technology’ the conference will feature inspiring speakers focusing on key issues for regional NSW including:

  • regional water management
  • drought
  • water and the triple bottom line
  • climate action and adaptation
  • innovation
  • urban water management
  • asset management.

Download the program.

To find out more visit the Australian Water Association website.

Register online.