President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

Local Government NSW President Linda Scott.

19 May 2021

Rates and councillor superannuation reform win
NSW Parliament finally passed much needed local government reforms last week, including changes around rates and councillor superannuation, something LGNSW and councils have been calling for over many years.

The Local Government Amendment Bill 2021– passed through the NSW Parliament’s Upper House last week – means the council rate increases as a result of amalgamations can now be introduced more gradually.

I also welcome the legislation’s inclusion of clauses which will see councils able to pay superannuation to their mayors and councillors for the first time, bringing them into line with other workers in NSW.

Councillor superannuation means fairer compensation for hard working local government representatives and will attract more people considering a run for council elections.

Again, this is something LGNSW has long advocated for and I am very pleased that NSW councillors will soon have the same rights to superannuation as other Australians.

The Bill contains many, largely welcomed changes, such as aligning council rates with population growth, as well as some that we feel did not go far enough, such as unresolved funding issues around the rapidly escalating Emergency Services Levy.

I celebrate the positive results of our advocacy on your behalf and, rest assured, LGNSW will continue to advocate for issues such as the ESL.

Federal Budget
The Federal Government handed down its 2021-22 Budget last week, and overall councils have a lot to be happy about in their efforts to create jobs and provide a locally led recovery for their communities.

There is an additional $1 billion commitment towards roads through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCI), with funding extended to June 2023, over $250 million funding for Building Better Regions and $600 million for the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency.

Core Federal Government funding for local government has also been maintained, including the remaining $1.3 billion of Financial Assistance Grants and ongoing funding for Roads to Recovery and the Road Safety and Black Spot Program.

LGNSW is driving a Locally Led jobs plan, which has the potential to create 70,000 new jobs with State and Federal funding support. Last week’s Budget is an encouraging first step towards that goal.

Affordable housing strategy welcomed
Last week the NSW Government released its long-awaited Housing Strategy, Housing 2041, which will provide a much-needed framework to address a growing affordable housing crisis across the State.

The new strategy, which will be implemented through multi-year Action Plans, is especially good news for our regional and remote areas, which are experiencing extreme shortages of affordable housing and facing increasing rates of homelessness exacerbated by the COVID 19 pandemic.

LGNSW and councils have consistently called for greater investment in social and affordable housing from State and Federal governments, which are ultimately responsible for addressing this shortfall.

Importantly, the Strategy recognises the critical role of councils and their communities in their planning to meet local housing needs.

We will be seeking to ensure local government, along with other sectors, is represented on the expert housing advisory panel being established to oversee delivery of the Strategy.

New minimum accessibility standards for housing in the National Construction Code
Speaking of affordable housing, Commonwealth, State and Territory Building Ministers met at the end of last month to consider options to increase Australia’s stock of accessible housing.

A majority of Ministers agreed to include minimum accessibility provisions for residential housing and apartments in the National Construction Code 2022 based on the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines silver standards.

LGNSW has been advocating on this matter over several years, informed by Annual Conference resolutions. Most recently, Canterbury-Bankstown Council put forward a motion on this matter to our 2020 Annual Conference.

We will continue to advocate for application of these new standards in NSW.

Commonwealth announces new natural disasters and climate change services
There have been some positive announcements from the Commonwealth in the past fortnight that reflect the concerns of our members.

First is the Commonwealth’s new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, which will provide support to local communities during the relief and recovery phases following major disasters.

This aligns with LGNSW calls for greater Commonwealth leadership and coordination on natural disaster management and climate change action.

The new agency will manage a $600 million program of disaster preparation and mitigation and also provide advice to Government on policies and programs to mitigate the impact of future major disaster events.

It is critical it engages with councils in effective and efficient natural disaster preparedness, response and recovery efforts and delivers increased investment in local government grant programs for adaptation and mitigation activities, as per our recommendations to the recent Royal Commission into disaster response.

Another new service to be announced as part of today’s Federal Budget is a new Climate Service initiative to address climate change.

I, like many of our members, am passionate about addressing climate change issues. It is a passion reflected in recent LGNSW Annual Conference motions seeking State and Federal support for councils setting carbon reduction targets.

The new $210 million Climate Service initiative will commence operations from July 1 and bring together our best scientists to help us better anticipate, manage and adapt to climate impacts now and for the generations to come.

Net zero emissions insights
Staying on the topic of climate change, I had the pleasure of officially opening LGNSW’s Net Zero Emissions webinar earlier this month, where our members got to hear some of the innovations around reducing emissions in the areas of waste and transport.

Experts from the EPA and the Electric Vehicle Council were on hand to speak on some of the practical “hows” for addressing the emission problem through initiatives such as greater support for low emission vehicles and revitalising our waste management and recycling sector.

It’s a vital topic and one a lot of our members are keen to address, and webinars like these create the opportunity for ideas and dialogues that become the catalyst for effecting change. A big thanks to all who took part.

LGNSW hosts council officers’ forum with NSW Building Commissioner
LGNSW recently hosted a council forum with the NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler and staff from the Department of Customer Service.

It was an opportunity for council officers to hear the latest information on a range of thorny issues, including referral processes for councils reporting high-risk projects and developers, timing and scope of fire safety orders, clarification on enforcement roles and an update on Project Remediate.

It was a helpful event for our members, and I thank Mr Chandler for making himself available to us.

If you have any questions about these or other development issues, I encourage you to contact LGNSW’s planning team, who can provide excellent support for members struggling through this very complex aspect of council.

Plan to be at our planning breakfast
The NSW planning system has been in a perpetual state of reform for more than a decade, but in the past year, the focus has turned to responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerating reforms that attract investment, create jobs and keep the economy moving.

Local governments play a key role in the planning system, and LGNSW will be hosting an exclusive members-only planning breakfast to help address the latest issues at the Fullerton Hotel, Sydney on July 15.

The program includes guest speakers Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes, urban economist Julian Szafraniec, who is also partner and principal at SGS Economics & Planning and a key advisor to the Government.

The event will focus on Planning in NSW: responding in uncertain times - local government’s role in shaping communities and feature a Q&A discussion.

I hope to see you there. LGNSW members can book via the member-only website..