President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

7 September 2021

Premier refuses to meet collectively with mayors of 12 COVID-hit communities

Last week, City of Canterbury Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour and I held a joint press conference to express our frustration with the Premier, who had rejected our request to meet with the 12 COVID-hit local government area mayors.

The meeting was meant to discuss the impacts of the State’s health orders as well as build consensus in facing down the devastating effects of the virus and subsequent lockdowns in our communities. 

The Premier’s decision actually breaches a commitment made in the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), which was signed by the Premier (on behalf of the State Government) and me (on behalf of local government) in October 2019.

In the IGA, the Premier promised to consult with us and our sector before any significant policy decisions were made and work with us to achieve positive outcomes for our communities.

I have received an outpouring of messages from mayors and councillors following the press conference expressing a feeling of being ignored by the NSW Government.

All levels of government, and representatives of every political persuasion, want the same thing: to keep people safe and emerge on the other side of lockdown as quickly as possible. The NSW Government should be working with local government to achieve that.

I am hopeful the Premier will reconsider her position and accept our offer to meet together soon.

Win! LGNSW welcomes additional $3.9 billion COVID support

I welcome last week’s announcement of an additional $3.9 billion in State and Federal support funding for businesses and individuals impacted by the continued impacts of the current COVID-19 outbreak, in line with our ongoing advocacy for additional support for our communities.

The funding includes:

  • Extension of JobSaver payments from August 28
  • Extension of the Micro-business Grant program for eligible businesses
  • Payroll tax waivers and deferrals, and
  • Extension of support for commercial, retail, and residential landlords.

This funding, along with the tireless work our local government sector is doing night and day to keep our communities safe, will support our communities through this terrible time and put us in the best possible position for a locally led economic recovery when we emerge from the current lockdown.

Win! Government commitment for more road safety funding

There is much to be pleased about in the Australian Government’s response to the Joint Select Committee on Road Safety Report: Improving Road Safety in Australia, released last week.

The Government has supported the report’s recommendation for calls for more funding for road safety and allocated an additional $1 billion in the 2021-22 Budget to continue road upgrades through the Road Safety Program.

I also welcome the commitment for increased Black Spot Program funding and an increase in the percentage allocated to regional and remote areas. The Government has now allocated a total of $1.2 billion for the program over the period 2013-14 to 2024-25.

Unfortunately, the Government did not fully adopt the report’s recommendation for better funding to be directed to councils to help them attract and retain staff with the skill and expertise needed to manage road safety.

Although the Government supports the recommendation in principle, it only points to existing indirect programs such as those provided by Austroads with regard to training and development.

Greater funding and resourcing of road safety expertise at councils is essential if the State and Australian governments expect councils to play a greater role in road safety in their LGAs.

I welcome the positive outcomes in the Government response to this important report, and LGNSW will continue to advocate for even greater financial and other support for our local government sector to reduce the risk on our local roads.

Continued progress in getting LGA vaccination data

We are continuing to see progress in response to our calls for the Government to release COVID data by local government areas (LGAs).

Last week the NSW Government began releasing vaccination rates by LGAs in response to our calls.

I thank the Government for responding to our advocacy. We will continue to seek the release of vaccination availability by LGA, which is a critical component in our councils being able to provide a locally led push to keep our communities safe and get people vaccinated as soon as possible.

Wingecarribee Shire Council

Last week, NSW Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock extended the suspension of Wingecarribee Shire councillors and announced a public inquiry into the council following a recommendation from interim administrator Viv May.

It is always troubling when local government is taken out of the hands of local communities, and I am deeply disappointed with this most recent outcome.

This process leaves the Wingecarribee community without local democratic representation.

At this stage, the Minister says Wingecarribee’s 4 December local government elections will be deferred until Barrister Ross Glover has completed the public inquiry and made his recommendations to Government.

I acknowledge an administration process is sometimes unavoidable, but it is absolutely paramount that elections are held as soon as possible to uphold the community’s rights to choose who represents them at a local government level.

LGNSW will continue to work with the NSW Government on behalf of Wingecarribee Shire Council and its community to ensure the fastest possible resolution.

New Employment Zones Framework

The Department of Planning Industry & Environment (DPIE) has published its submissions report following exhibition of the NSW Government’s proposed employment zones framework, which proposes to replace existing business and industrial land use zones with an entirely new framework for “employment” zones.

Of the 130 submissions, half were from our local government sector, an indication of the high degree of concern our councils have in this significant structural change to the planning system.

It is disappointing that the Government has not listened to our concerns about the unrealistic timeframes being expected of councils for this, on top of all the other major planning reforms they are expected to adopt. I have conveyed our concerns to Planning Minister Rob Stokes.

With the Government intending to finalise amendments to individual Local Environmental Plans for the new employment zones framework in the first half of 2022, we will continue to advocate for more realistic timeframes and greater support for councils on this and other reforms.

LGNSW’s Special Conference details now available

Last week, we launched registrations for the LGNSW Special Conference – a separate event to this year’s one-hour online conference, which cannot be held in person due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Special Conference will take place from 28 February to 2 March 2022 at the Hyatt Regency Sydney and will feature a range of keynote speakers as well as the critically important debate and resolution of council-submitted motions to determine the advocacy agenda for the year ahead.

Check out our brand-new Special Conference website incorporating everything you need to know – key dates, program, registration details, venue information plus much more.