President's Message


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Darriea Turley addresses the Rural and Regional Summit.

LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM welcomes delegates to the 2024 Rural and Regional Summit.

15 May 2024

Budget had little for local government

Last night’s federal budget had little in the way of good news for local government, with the Australian Government still yet to meet its pre-election commitment for fair increases to Financial Assistance Grants.

NSW councils’ share of Financial Assistance Grants will surpass $1 billion for the first time in 2024-25, but this just reflects increases based on the legislated formula for indexation rather than meaningful increases in the quantum of the grants.

Financial Assistance Grants are essential for the financial sustainability of our sector and allow councils to build and maintain the infrastructure and services our communities expect and deserve. LGNSW will continue to work with ALGA in calling for a fairer deal for councils.

The NSW Government will be similarly disappointed, with the federal budget revealing that in 2024-25 NSW is set to receive $1.9 billion less than previously forecast in GST revenue. We will see the impacts of this reflected in the NSW State Budget on 18 June.

The Australian Government has also announced a continuation of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, with indexation (amounting to $1.86 billion a year). However, it is disappointing there is no new funding for public and social housing, despite the critical need in this area.

The Australian Government has also announced $1 billion for states and territories to support infrastructure to enable more housing. While welcome, excluding councils from this funding hampers the ability of councils to contribute to achieving Housing Accord targets.

One bright point for councils is seeing the progressive increase in funding for Roads to Recovery reflected in the budget.  For 2024-25, funding for this program will be $649.4 million nationally, with $181 million for NSW councils.

For further information on budget measures, see our feature article, and ALGA’s media release and fact sheets.

NSW Government concedes Waste Tendering Regulation needs improvement

While a disallowance motion to get rid of the State Government’s flawed Waste Tendering Regulations was lost in the Legislative Council of the NSW Parliament, in a win for our advocacy, the NSW Government has publicly conceded the regulation needs improvement.

As you’re all aware, LGNSW had serious objections about the lack of consultation in drafting up that regulation and the many unintended negative impacts they have on our sector.

During debate on Tuesday night (14 May), Minister Moriarty, on behalf of Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig, gave a commitment to “tweak” the regulation and address some of the unintended consequences. This position was acknowledged by multiple government speakers, who also acknowledged the need to call a roundtable.

We look forward to working collaboratively with the Minister and other stakeholders to achieve that outcome and I call on the Minister to provide a clear timeframe of when the changes will be made so councils and ratepayers are not disadvantaged by the hastily drafted regulation.

New fees for Mayors and Councillors

Last week, the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal’s 2024 determination on the fees payable to mayors and councillors was published in the NSW Government Gazette and can be downloaded from the Tribunal’s website. The Tribunal awarded a 3.75% increase with effect from 1 July 2024. While the increase is less than the increase sought by LGNSW, the Tribunal was persuaded by LGNSW and the submissions of individual members that it is no longer bound by the NSW Public Sector Wages Policy. 

Rural and Regional Summit

Thank you to all delegates who attended the 2024 LGNSW Rural and Regional Summit on 9 May, with an excellent range of speakers and panels discussing a range of priority topics for rural and regional NSW councils, including: 

  • Financial sustainability for local government
  • Renewable energy transition and seeking the best outcomes for local communities
  • Short-term rental accommodation reforms
  • Increasing opportunities for Aboriginal employees in local government
  • New arrangements regarding emergency management and disaster recovery
  • As well as addresses from the NSW Premier, Minister Hoenig, Minister Moriarty, Shadow Minister Wendy Tuckerman, Shadow Minister Dugald Saunders and Dr Joe McGirr MP.

A particular thank you to our local government peers who shared their expertise on panels throughout the day: Mayor of Armidale Regional Council Cr Sam Coupland, Mayor of Mid-Western Regional Council Cr Des Kennedy, Mayor of Byron Shire Council Cr Michael Lyon, and Brewarrina Shire Council General Manager David Kirby.

Feedback to CCNSW on burial and cremation levy

LGNSW has provided its feedback (see LGNSW letter) on the NSW Government’s disappointing proposal to apply a tax on every burial, cremation and ash interment in NSW from 1 July 2024.

The announcement of this levy is premature and ill-considered, with key design and implementation features remaining unresolved, and the announcement has certainly come far too late to be implemented from 1 July 2024, as proposed.

Respectful and affordable interment services are a critical public good provided by local government cemetery operators.

LGNSW fundamentally opposes this tax and any moves that seek to unnecessarily increase costs for grieving families, particularly during a cost-of-living crisis and I am hopeful that the NSW will reconsider this proposal and cease any plans to expand the interment levy.

Beachwatch funding

I am grateful that Minister Sharpe has heard our sector’s advocacy and decided not to proceed with moves that seek to shift the NSW Government’s costs for the Beachwatch Program onto councils from 1 July this year.

While the Minister’s announcement is just a temporary reprieve (the announcement postpones this move to 1 July 2025), we will continue to call for this – and all cost shifts from the NSW Government onto councils – to cease.

Meetings at Parliament last week

I had a successful round of meetings at Parliament House on Wednesday last week.

I met with Minister Hoenig to discuss a range of our sector’s priorities, Minister Houssos to discuss our sector’s position on ticketless parking and the safety of council employees.

I also met Minister Dib (accompanied by the Mayor of Waverley) to discuss coastal safety, and the office of Minister Sharpe to discuss the legislative reform agenda in the environment portfolio.

De-amalgamation Bill

The Local Government Amendment (De-amalgamations) Bill 2024 passed parliament last week, establishing a legislative pathway for forcibly amalgamated councils to de-amalgamate.

I thank Minister Hoenig for initiating this Bill, and for agreeing to the amendments put forward by Wendy Tuckerman MP, which introduce a requirement for the NSW Government to contribute funding of up to $5 million and/or loans to support the costs of de-amalgamation.

While this sum may not cover the whole costs of de-amalgamation, it does represent an improvement on the original Bill.

It is the position of LGNSW that forced amalgamations were a decision of the State Government. If a council and its community choose to reverse this State Government decision, then all associated costs should also be borne by the State Government – and not by councils and their communities. 

ESL Amendment (Land Classification) Bill 2024

Last week the NSW Treasurer introduced the Emergency Services Levy Amendment (Land Classification) Bill 2024 into parliament.

The Bill seeks to establish a mechanism for the preliminary classification of land for the purposes of establishing a new way to fund emergency services, and is a necessary step for the removal of the ESL on councils and insurance policies and its replacement with a broad based property levy.

If enacted, the Bill would require councils to:

  • perform a preliminary, one-off, classification of all parcels of land in the area of the local council, and
  • identify if the parcel of land is owned by a person belonging to a class of persons specified in guidelines issued by the Treasurer, and
  • give the information to the Chief Commissioner of State Revenue.

Of course, this is a considerable task and would impose a significant cost and resource burden on our sector, but is a necessary step towards the ESL from our sector.

Pleasingly, in the Treasurer’s second reading speech he advised that councils will be reimbursed for the reasonable costs incurred in undertaking this one-off undertaking, and that councils will be consulted on the development of guidelines for this task.

I have written to the Treasurer seeking amendments to the Bill to:

  • Enshrine in the wording of the Bill the Treasurer’s commitment to reimburse councils for their costs in undertaking this work.
  • Remove from the Bill the provision that would apply a $2200 penalty on councils that do not comply with the Bill’s requirements. This provision is antagonistic and unnecessary. If councils are struggling with compliance, it is likely they need assistance and support as they grapple with skills shortages and lack of resources to complete this significant task. A punitive fine is the wrong approach.

Net Zero Webinar #3 – Tracking Emissions 

Our very popular Net Zero Webinar series for 2024 will come to an end on Thursday 13 June on the topic of Tracking Emissions.

The Net Zero Tracking Emissions Webinar will discuss the greenhouse gas accounting tool developed by 100% Renewables on behalf of Sustainable Councils, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW).

The webinar will provide detailed insights into the tools, as well as case studies from councils in regional NSW.

The confirmed speakers are Siggy Lendering, Project Manager, 100% Renewables and Deborah Taylor, who’s the Energy Strategy Officer, Bathurst Regional Council.

This webinar is FREE of charge,



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