President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

1 March 2023

LGNSW Celebrates 10 years

Today is a special one for our sector: it marks the 10th anniversary of the formation of Local Government NSW, when two separate organisations came together to ensure councils right across the state could speak up with one strong and unified voice on behalf of our communities.

From Broken Hill to Byron Bay, Burwood to Blayney – we’re here to support our member councils, not only via our advocacy to our colleagues in the State and Federal governments but through custom-designed learning courses and professional development forums.

Over the past decade we have helped deliver billions of dollars in funding to our communities, in both good times and in bad. We’ve worked hard to assist Mayors, councillors, General Managers and council staff navigate rapidly changing issues and policy developments. We’ve provided countless hours of bespoke support and solutions to workplace issues and advice on complex legal matters.

LGNSW Conferences, forums, workshops and other professional networking opportunities are now available to all councils, along with member mentoring programs and other capacity-building programs. Local Government Management Solutions collaborates with members to help councils obtain and retain the best people for their needs, while also offering facilitated performance reviews, salary and benchmarking surveys.

And of course Local Government Procurement (LGP), our wholly owned business arm is focused on helping councils save money and work efficiently, whether through better contracts negotiated on councils’ behalf, procurement training to grow in-house expertise, or serving as a legally prescribed entity through which councils can obtain quotes and proposals without having to work through a lengthy and expensive tender process.

The past decade has seen many, many changes to the operation and responsibilities of councils. However LGNSW has remained consistent with an absolute and unwavering commitment to delivering real and meaningful value for our members. I know I speak on behalf of all our democratically elected Boards and our staff - past, present, and future - when I say it is an honour and a privilege to continue to serve the local sector in this way. You are now and will always remain at the absolute core of everything we do.

Financial Sustainability: councils’ number one challenge

One of the most significant changes we have seen over time is the steady erosion of the financial sustainability of councils. An enormous amount of work has been put in by each and every council to manage the growing financial squeeze imposed by an ever-increasing degree of cost-shifting and a rate pegging methodology that is clearly no longer fit for purpose. Quite simple, wholesale reform is needed to set the local government sector back on a solid financial foundation.

As I advised in last week’s President’s Message, our LGNSW Rural and Regional Summit confirmed the financial sustainability of councils is under severe threat. With a State election looming, guest speakers of all political persuasions acknowledged councils face very real financial issues.

But these commitments and acknowledgements do not go far enough. Read more about our key asks to resolve financial sustainability in this week’s election focus article.

Government continues to erode council planning powers

The diminution of council planning powers, and the right for communities to have a say over the future of their neighbourhoods, continues apace.

Most recently we revealed that the NSW Government is trying to keep controversial rezoning proposals secret from democratically elected councillors and the communities they represent. The Government is demanding council town planners sign confidentiality agreements before learning which areas are proposed for rezoning.

In cases we’re aware of, the rezoning is designed to allow massive development so problematic it has already been rejected on multiple occasions by the local council and independent planning panel. It’s hard to see this demand as anything other than an attempt to subvert local democracy, and begs the question: if these big development proposals are so beneficial, why shroud them in secrecy?

We believe that all planning proposals should be on the public record, and to allow these proposals passage behind the closed doors of the Planning Department is the very opposite of transparency and good governance. Sidelining councils and the community from this critical role will only benefit the commercial interests of developers and further degrades the community from having any say about what developments occur in their areas.