15 February 2023
Many of our calls to government hit the mark
As campaigning for the State election on 25 March really gets under way, it has been great to see a number of our urgent calls on behalf of local government hit the mark.
The Coalition’s pledge to inject additional funding into the regional and rural road network if re-elected is the latest result of this advocacy work, and follows on from our declaration of a state-wide Roads Emergency in NSW.
The promised $1 billion package includes a further $400 million investment in the successful Fixing Local Roads program, on the back of the $500 million already announced as state-wide emergency funding to assist councils in their massive task of repairing the havoc wrought on our roads by NSW’s floods and torrential rains.
It also includes $300 million for a Build Back Better program to invest in more resilient State, regional and local road and transport infrastructure across regional NSW, and another $300 million for the establishment of a new Fast Tracking Freight program to tackle freight pinch points on the road and rail network.
You can read our media response in full, but I want to especially welcome the Government’s recognition that simply patching holes is not enough, and that future extreme weather events have the potential to literally wash away any repairs. There is an urgent need to build our roads to higher standards so they can stand up against future floods and other natural disasters. Good roads are good for us all: for business, for our agricultural sector, and for everyday drivers who just want to get to where they need to be safely and without damage to their vehicles.
Of course this is just one election pledge: our shared work now is to convince all candidates, irrespective of political party, to commit to the level of funding that helps restore NSW’s local road network. You can help in this gargantuan task by downloading and using our Local Government Pre-Election Advocacy Toolkit. To learn more about this crucial election issue, check out the article below on our Roads and Infrastructure election priority, or email [email protected].
Housing and Homelessness
We’ve also won a commitment from the Opposition aimed at tackling the homelessness and affordable housing crisis, with the promise that any properties on surplus government land will be subject to a mandatory minimum of 30% social and affordable housing.
While the Government has yet to make a similar commitment, we note the Greater Cities Commission (GCC) Discussion Paper has proposed a target of up to 30 per cent for the proportion of social and affordable housing in residential developments on government land.
At a bare minimum the Government needs to pick up and not only run with this proposal, but also extend it beyond the coastal areas within the GCC’s remit to the rest of the State. Meanwhile, the crisis in affordable housing continues to grow, sparking our call for the next government to build 5,000 additional units of social housing each year, for the next 10 years.
Uluru Statement from the Heart – Week of Action: 18-24 February
You may recall that our 2022 LGNSW Special Conference resolved to “support the Statement from the Heart’s call for Indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice” and a referendum to achieve this goal.
The Referendum Working Group has now advised a Week of Action for the upcoming referendum on the proposed Voice to Parliament will take place from Saturday 18 to Friday 24 February.
I encourage all councils to get involved in this important referendum debate: LGNSW has published a range of resources and links on our website to assist councils to communicate to their communities and build support for the Voice.
Age-Friendly Resource Kit Updated
I’m very pleased to advise that the Age-friendly Toolkit for Local Government has been updated thanks to a grant provided by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice. The revised Toolkit will help councils continue to plan for our increasingly ageing communities through the provision of tools and resources to increase positive outcomes for older people across NSW.
Rural and Regional Summit Next Week
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to lock in your spot at our Rural and Regional Summit at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth next Monday.
This one-day event is an important opportunity to amplify our advocacy for rural and regional communities in lead-up to the State election. As well as the roads and housing crises canvassed in my message this week, we’ll also be looking at the burning need for regional infrastructure and the crisis in rural and regional health.
More information and register
Library Lovers' Day
Now that the chocolates have all been eaten and the roses are wilting in their vases, I want to remind everyone that yesterday wasn’t just Valentine’s Day – it was also Library Lovers' Day, and now is the time to send our fantastic council-run libraries a big shoutout.
They do such great work, and I’m so proud that our communities continue to benefit from the $60 million four-year funding boost we won through our campaign with the NSW Public Libraries Association back in 2019.
But the clock on that funding package is ticking and we must not forget that public libraries can only continue as vital community hubs if they have long-term financial security.
So today, or over the next few weeks, show your local library some love. It doesn’t matter whether you are partnered or happily single: libraries will always love you back.
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