President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

30 June 2021

COVID-19 and staying at home

As so many of us sit at home in lockdown, my thanks to those of you encouraging your communities to be vaccinated, stay in their homes and ensure our communities are safe from the spread of COVID.

Our Local Government Splinter Award allows local government staff to take leave, without loss of pay, for the time reasonably required to get vaccinated for COVID-19. I am conscious many regions do not have vaccinations available; we continue to advocate about this.

Congratulations: NSW councils have led the way in dealing with the local impacts of this wretched virus and keeping their communities safe.

I am confident this latest setback will not diminish council efforts to drive a job-creating, locally led economic recovery.

I have written to the Premier to call on the NSW Government to provide support for businesses and individuals at financial risk from the latest COVID stay-at-home orders, which are expected to cost communities hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Local Government Elections
The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Local Government Elections) Bill 2021 has now passed NSW Parliament, containing amendments to the Electoral Funding Act which allow parties to assume control for disclosures.

The Local Government Amendment (Elections) Bill 2021 is also progressing through the Parliament, containing amendments to ensure COVID-safe elections.

This Bill also now contains an amendment put forward by The Greens David Shoebridge in the Upper House, disqualifying property developers from holding office.

The NSW Electoral Commission has also flagged today that they may explore electronic options for forthcoming local government elections – we will keep you updated as this progresses.

Win: Local government efforts to support electronic vehicles backed by State Budget
One of the pleasing outcomes of the State Budget was the commitment to spending almost $500 million transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs), waiving stamp duty on EVs and providing funding for charging stations throughout the State.

This reflects LGNSW advocacy on behalf of councils for Government to incentivise the uptake of the environmentally friendly cars, reduce carbon emissions and air pollution and fast track the rollout of charging stations, including in regional areas.

Councils have led the charge in supporting greater EV use, including many councils replacing their fleets with EVs, and must now have a voice on how the State Government determines charging point locations.

Potentially detrimental infrastructure contribution rule changes introduced to Parliament
I have written to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes to voice my opposition to rule changes sneaked into Parliament last week that have the power to defer and reduce critical developer payments to councils.

The changes come via the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021.

I am deeply concerned these changes to contribution rules were introduced by the Government as part of a package of other Bills during State Budget week without proper consultation with councils or LGNSW.

Communities depend on councils to deliver for the public good. This Bill risks reducing these efforts.

I have called on the Ministers to withdraw the Bill as it stands and commit to consult with us and our communities first. We need to ensure these rule changes don’t result in more cost-shifting from developers to councils and the communities they serve.

Closing the Gap represents a fairer go for Indigenous people
We’re excited to welcome the release of the NSW Government’s statewide implementation plan to address the disproportionate disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Our councils are keenly committed to reconciliation, and it is crucial that the NSW Government works with us to ensure the successful implementation of the Closing the Gap plan.

There is not a formal mechanism within Closing the Gap governance arrangements for individual council Closing the Gap strategies.

However, there is an enormous opportunity for councils across Australia to commit to actions and strategies that will contribute to addressing Closing the Gap priority reform areas and socio-economic targets and I encourage councils to develop these strategies.

Win: Government backs down on Dam Safety Levy
Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey has listened to our advocacy and has backed down on last year’s proposed NSW Government Dam Safety Levy.

There are 44 councils across NSW that carry responsibility for many of the 400-plus dams targeted by this onerous Levy, which would have added potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to council operation costs.

While councils are committed to the highest levels of safety of all their infrastructure, this Levy looked like yet another tax burden being imposed on councils’ already scarce resources.

I note with caution Minister Pavey’s statement says “the Levy will not be introduced in 2021” – I am concerned it might raise its head again in the future.

LGNSW will be keeping a close eye to make sure this legislation doesn’t resurface and will work with Government to see the Levy funded from consolidated revenue.