Visiting Oberon Council last week. From left: LGNSW Chief Executive David Reynolds, Cr Helen Hayden, Cr Katie Graham, Mayor Mark Kellam, LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM and Oberon Council General Manager Gary Wallace.
4 October 2023
Short-term rental accommodation
Many of you would have seen the NSW Government’s recent decision to endorse a proposal to cap un-hosted short-term rental accommodation (STRA) to 60 days a year across most parts of Byron Shire Council.
LGNSW and councils have long called for the NSW Government to give councils the tools to better manage the impacts of STRA platforms on the availability of long-term rental housing.
The NSW Government has committed to a two-year review of the current STRA planning provisions. Among a suite of other proposals to address the housing and homelessness crisis in NSW, I have called on the NSW Government to prioritise and complete this review as soon as possible.
Councils need greater ability to help set STRA planning provisions (number of days and areas in which caps would apply) in recognition that one-size-fits-all approaches are not suitable for NSW.
While STRA reforms, alone, will not resolve our housing crisis, they are one tool that can help to return more of the existing housing stock to the long-term rental market. This is one of the fastest ways to provide immediate relief to housing pressures while we await meaningful investment in public and social housing and increased market supply of housing.
Bus Passenger Forums – community sessions
As part of my role on the NSW Bus Industry Taskforce, I encourage all councils and their communities to participate in the Bus Passenger Forums across the state, which will hear from the community, face-to-face, on what they want to get from their bus services.
Additional Bus Passenger Community Forums have now been added to Transport for NSW’s website, including for:
- Broken Hill
Bus forums for the remainder of 2023 will also be listed.
I encourage mayors and councils to share details of these forums with their communities to ensure local transport needs are voiced.
Protecting local water utilities – parliamentary inquiry
A reminder that the NSW Parliament has established an inquiry into how the government can prevent and stop privatisation of local water utilities, with reference to:
- How local water utilities and their assets can be best protected against privatisation, forced amalgamations and sell-offs
- Reviewing governance and other legislation relating to the potential privatisation of local water utilities; and
- Any other related matters.
This is such a critical matter for all councils with local water utilities and represents the opportunity for a significant win for the sector.
To ensure the recommendations align with key council and community interests, please make sure to provide input for LGNSW’s submission on behalf of the sector as well as consider making a submission on behalf of your own council.
Ministerial Appointments, Food Regulation Forum – Nominations close 10 October
LGNSW is seeking applications from mayors and councillors to represent local government on the NSW Government's Food Regulation Forum for a three-year term until 30 November 2026.
LGNSW is seeking mayors and councillors to nominate for ministerial appointment for:
- three positions as Members of the Food Regulation Forum
- one position as Chairperson of the Food Regulation Forum
The Food Regulation Forum is a committee constituted under the Food Act 2003 to bring key local government and other food regulation stakeholders together to provide advice on the operation of the Food Regulation Partnership in NSW.
Nominations close on Tuesday 10 October.
Further details on how to nominate
Mayoral and councillor remuneration
Earlier this year I wrote to Minister Hoenig seeking reform of the framework governing fees payable to mayors and councillors in NSW.
I advised the Minister that the framework that determines the fees payable to mayors and councillors needed major reform.
Inadequate fees that do not reflect the level of input required by mayors and councillors will lead to degradation in the range and quality of candidates at a local level and may further restrict particular groups from representation in local government due to the financial constraints that may follow.
This is particularly significant for councils in rural and regional NSW that are placed in non-metropolitan categories and remunerated at substantially lower levels than those in metropolitan areas.
While the population of these communities may be smaller than that of larger metro councils, elected representatives in these communities face unique and ongoing challenges for which they are not remunerated.
The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal, in its determination this year, noted the challenges with remuneration and set out that, in the Tribunal’s view, there would be merit in a comprehensive review of the framework for mayor and councillor remuneration.
Minister Hoenig has now responded to my letter, and disappointingly has not agreed to a review. The Minister did note, however, that his government’s removal of the public sector wages cap would better empower the Tribunal to compensate mayors and councillors.
Indeed, the removal of the wages cap’s applicability to remuneration aligns with Murrumbidgee Council’s resolution 14 of the LGNSW 2022 Special Conference, and this move does represent a step in the right direction.
New guidance for councils: Hosting LGBTQ+ events safely
In line with our recent Safety in Councils forum, I am pleased to see that ACON has now published a new resource for local government to support us in our important work promoting social cohesion and supporting LGBTQ+ communities.
The Guidance for Hosting LGBTQ+ events safely for local councils is now available.
Councils have an essential role in delivering inclusive communities.
Threats to the safety of council staff, elected representatives and members of the community involved with LGBTQ+ events or in any other context are never acceptable. I have written to the NSW Police Commissioner seeking support for councils to ensure threats to our local democracy and community do not escalate.
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