President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM.

19 October 2022

Annual conference now just days away

We are just days away from the LGNSW Annual Conference kicking off in the Hunter Valley from Sunday 23 October to Tuesday 25 October.

This Annual Conference is taking place at a significant time for local government, with natural disasters, an uncertain economic outlook and a rate peg that is not fit for purpose continuing to take a substantial toll on councils across the state.

Combine that with a State election creeping ever so closer and this conference will be one of the most critical in recent memory in shaping our sector’s advocacy agenda for the next 12 months.

All delegates and group coordinators should have received an email that contained links to a range of invaluable resources that will be of assistance throughout the duration of the conference.

For those who prefer hard copies of the business paper, annual report and program, please ensure you have downloaded and printed these resources before your arrival to the conference, as printing facilities are not available onsite.

More information on everything related to the conference is available at the dedicated LGNSW Annual Conference website. Attendees who may have questions in the lead-up to the conference can also email the LGNSW Events team at [email protected].

I look forward to seeing so many of you this Sunday.

Flooding support

My thoughts are with the councils across regional NSW that are once again experiencing flooding events after another period of extremely heavy rainfall.

LGNSW continues to work closely with our State and Federal colleagues to ensure appropriate support is reaching impacted communities through this challenging period.

If LGNSW can escalate any of your council’s concerns through the State Recovery Committee, please email LGNSW Director Advocacy Damian Thomas at [email protected].

Agritourism reforms

Last week I wrote to the Minister for Planning, the Hon Anthony Roberts, to express serious concerns about the changes to agritourism rules, which are slated to begin on 1 December.

While councils are supportive of initiatives to provide farmers with supplementary avenues of income, the rushed implementation of these reforms by the NSW Government has left much to be desired.

Critically, the heightened potential for land use conflict as a result of these reforms will require attention and response from council officers.

This will, unfortunately, divert council planning resources – already under extreme pressure – away from critically important development assessment functions. It will also hamper the ability of councils to address the housing crisis, especially in those communities severely affected by this year’s flooding.

LGNSW is calling on the Minister to postpone the start of these reforms for any councils with concerns until the Department of Planning and Environment completes its consultation and all the details are finalised.

We also want a monitoring system implemented that will look at the costs and benefits of these reforms, and for these results to help shape a review of the policy in 12 months.

Finally, we are calling on the Minister to set up an agritourism hotline to respond to complaints from the public and to consider further mechanisms that could be introduced to offset the cost to local government.

Win! Unblocking homes program

The NSW Government’s announcement of new initiatives to support councils to deliver critical planning work is a big win for our ongoing advocacy about statewide shortages of qualified planners in local government.

The $11.5 million Unblocking Homes Program includes seven new and ongoing initiatives:

  • Regional Housing Flying Squad (expansion following successful pilot)
  • Planning proposal support and expert assessment for prioritised housing projects (new project)
  • Planning Delivery Unit Regional Case Management and Planning Concierge
  • Regionally Significant DA capacity building and faster assessments
  • Local Housing Strategy Implementation
  • Regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund
  • Faster Local Assessment Grant.

While additional resources are welcomed, the announcement from the NSW Government does seem counter-intuitive given that council planning teams are being diverted from their core planning responsibilities to meet unrealistic timeframes of other government planning reforms, including the changes to agritourism rules, which I mentioned above.

So, while LGNSW is pleased that the NSW Government is listening to our collective concerns about resourcing, I can assure all of our members that we will continue to advocate for sensible and realistic timeframes and funding mechanisms to enable councils to meet these other expectations.

Excellence in the Environment Awards

Congratulations to all the nominees for LGNSW’s Excellence in the Environment Awards.

The 29 finalists across 13 award categories reflect the diversity of sustainability action being undertaken by NSW councils.

The list of nominees include councils that undertook food recycling in apartments, improved liveability outcomes during heat waves, used citizen science to discover platypuses, transitioned to a net zero future, improved the resilience of gravel roads and protected an endangered population of coastal emus.

The award winners will be announced at a special ceremony at Prince Henry Centre in Little Bay on Tuesday 6 December.