Tuesday 10 May 2022
We are now in the last two weeks leading up to the Federal election, and our federal colleagues at ALGA are undertaking a final push to ensure our political representatives "Don’t Leave Communities Behind”.
Councils right across Australia have come together to ensure our communities are not short-changed amid the flurry of announcements focused on marginal electorates.
ALGA is calling on all candidates to commit to 17 specific actions in the areas of economic recovery, transport and community infrastructure, building resilience, circular economy and intergovernmental relations. Independent economic analysis of the ALGA proposals have confirmed the kind of investment sought would add around $6.46 billion a year to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product while creating 43,444 jobs.
If your council hasn’t already passed a Mayoral Minute supporting the Don’t Leave Communities Behind campaign, I’d urge you to do so at the earliest opportunity.
Download the draft Mayoral Minute
Template letters and Council Motions
Images and videos
New report on rural, regional and remote health crisis
LGNSW has called on the State and Federal governments to move swiftly to fix the broken health system, after a new report found our rural and regional communities have significantly worse health outcomes because they cannot access high standard healthcare.
The NSW Upper House Parliamentary Inquiry has again confirmed what we all know only too well; councils have been saying for years that rural and regional health is in crisis.
Our councils are doing everything we possibly can to try to ensure a decent standard of healthcare for their communities by subsidising the running costs of medical facilities, providing critical health infrastructure and providing housing for doctors and nurses. But this is just a drop in the bucket: we need real, meaningful action and investment by the State and Federal tiers of government, and we need it now.
The Country Mayors Association is hosting a special forum on this issue on 26 May, and LGNSW will continue to work with the association to help drive innovative solutions to the crisis.
Western Division Conference
I was incredibly disappointed I was unable to attend the Western Division Conference of Councils last week, but very grateful that our Regional and Rural Vice-President and Blayney Mayor Scott Ferguson was able to report to members on the advocacy work we continue to undertake on their behalf.
Special thanks to Western Division Chair Cr Dave Gallagher.
It’s fair to say there is widespread frustration among councils, which responsibly budgeted for a 2-2.5% rate peg, but were forced to seek an unexpected rate peg variation after IPART announced the rate peg for 2022-23 would plunge to 0.7%.
Financial sustainability is an increasingly critical issue for councils.
Similarly, we remain deeply concerned at the soaring Emergency Services Levy (ESL) on councils, which increased by $43 million this year. While we were able to persuade the State Government to cover this levy rise for the third year running, we are all painfully aware that this is just a temporary reprieve. We are now the only mainland state that does not fund its fire services via a broad-based property levy, which LGNSW has long argued is the fairest and most transparent way to fund our much-needed emergency services.
Meanwhile, we are working closely with Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke on the State Government’s ludicrous insistence that Rural Fire Service mobile assets are the property of councils for accounting purposes. Even though councils have no say in the acquisition, deployment or disposal of these assets, we’re forced to keep them on our books and carry the cost of depreciation.
This financial fiction breaches Australian Accounting Standards and is yet another example of the cost-shifting that consistently undermines our long-term financial sustainability and undercuts our ability to balance our budgets.
Modular housing for flood victims
We certainly need some good news after the last few weeks, and I do want to recognise the NSW Government’s work with councils to help flood-impacted communities.
The recently-announced $350 million investment in temporary modular housing is a great example of practical solutions that result when all tiers of government work together to support our communities.
Preparatory work to establish these homes in the Ballina local government area has kicked off, and discussions are under way with Tweed, Byron, Richmond Valley and Lismore councils to identify suitable sites for the homes in their LGAs.
Official Notice of Annual Conference
By now you would have all received official notice of this year’s Annual Conference, scheduled for Sunday 23 October to Tuesday 25 October in the Hunter Valley.
It will be our first full Annual Conference since the pandemic, bringing together our annual financial report to members as well as voting on motions that will set our policy directions for 2023.
October seems like a long way off, but it will be here before we know it. I understand there are limited onsite rooms available at Crown Plaza Hunter Valley, so I’d urge anyone planning to attend to book as quickly as possible. Preliminary Conference information is available on our Annual Conference 2022 webpage.
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