FOCUSSING 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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.