Media Release: LGNSW launches State Election Priorities 2015

15 December 2015
 
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) today launched its State Election Priorities 2015, calling on all parties contesting the NSW election to support councils and their communities by fixing the rating system and ending cost-shifting on to councils – a practice which costs the sector over $500 million each year.
 
President of LGNSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said NSW Local Government is currently facing a period of extraordinary change and LGNSW’s State Election Priorities 2015 outlines the major issues impacting councils and our proposed solutions under seven key themes:
 
1. Greater autonomy in governance
2. Autonomy in council revenue raising
3. Fair funding for shared infrastructure and service responsibilities
4. Agreed pathways on voluntary structural reform
5. Mutual positioning on social policy priorities
6. Improved environmental legislation and settings
7. Balanced land use planning.
 
“As councils review their own operations and speak with their neighbours ahead of the June deadline for Fit for the Future proposals, all parties and candidates need to recognise the impact on councils and their communities of the decisions and actions of the State Government,'' said Cr Rhoades.
 
“For years, we have been calling for the end of governments shifting their responsibilities on to councils without providing the necessary funding or resources.
 
“Couple this with rate pegging and unfair and burdensome rate exemptions, and you have a Local Government system that is highly prescribed and regulated.
 
“Councils need greater autonomy in raising revenue to ensure the diverse needs and expectations of their communities are met. 
 
“The first step towards achieving autonomy is a review of the rating system, and enacting legislation that requires Local Government agreement before councils take on any new responsibilities proposed by the State Government of the day.
 
“We are also seeking fairer funding for shared responsibilities, including increased funding for regional roads, timber bridges and higher mass vehicle routes. 
 
“Local communities should not be forced to pick up the cost of fixing roads that have deteriorated due to the bulk and weight of freight vehicles, particularly in rural areas where the rate base is small.
 
“LGNSW will also be pushing for the introduction of a Container Deposit System (CDS), which will help reduce waste going to landfill and shift the responsibility, both financial and physically, on to the user to behave responsibly, rather than spreading that cost once again across ratepayers.
 
“Finally, I call on both the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition to publicly commit to no forced council amalgamations ahead of the March election,” said Cr Rhoades.
 
LGNSW’s State Election Priorities 2015, available online at http://www.lgnsw.org.au/policy/nsw-election-priorities-2015, has now been sent to all parties and councils, and will be distributed to all candidates in coming weeks. LGNSW has requested a response in writing from all NSW political parties by Friday 20 February 2015.