Vivian Slack-Smith, Darriea Turley, Scott Phillips and David Kirby during the Brewarrina Shire Council visit.
16 May 2023
President and CEO Road Trip
One of the joys of being LGNSW President is when I get to visit regional councils throughout our great State.
Last week, LGNSW Chief Executive Scott Phillips and I took a road trip through North Western NSW and then the Far West of the State, visiting Narrabri, Walgett, and Brewarrina on Tuesday and then Bourke, Cobar, and Bogan Shire Council in Nyngan on Wednesday.
It’s important for us to meet with mayors and general managers to talk about the critical issues facing them.
At Bourke, we had discussions about issues facing their historic weir on the Darling River. At Nyngan the issues focused more on land use, especially the impact the Biodiversity Act is having on how the council can use its land.
Being able to conduct site visits enables Scott and I to have firsthand knowledge when it comes to our dealings with relevant State Government Ministers.
Meeting with the State Treasurer
Last Friday, a number of LGNSW staff and I held talks with State Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig and Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib to give them the facts on how the extra cost of the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) without a government subsidy would adversely affect councils.
We sought a number of things from them:
- That the subsidy be restored this year;
- That the ESL councils are required to make be decoupled from the rates, which councils levy;
- And that the Government finds a better way to fund the emergency service functions.
Put simply, we told them councils cannot afford the increase without the subsidy. With inflation, council costs are rising anyway and, without the subsidy, jobs will be lost, services will be cut, and operating hours slashed.
We were told there would be no subsidy this year, which was very disappointing, however, the three Ministers agreed the ESL funding model is not fit for purpose and expressed support for a more workable solution going forward.
Local Government alumni in State Parliament
I was really impressed to see that more than a third of the members of the NSW House of Assembly and Legislative Council had served on councils.
In fact, 50 of the 135 parliamentarians had their first taste of politics at a local government level.
It’s a tribute to the community spirit of the MPs concerned and recognition of the fine political training ground that local government provides.
I want to congratulate all 50 former councillors who are now in the State Parliament.
Winning a seat in State Parliament is an endorsement for each MP of the work they have done and the profile they created in their own communities.
Voice to Parliament
I know many mayors are signatories to a letter of support for a yes vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum, which will be taking place later this year.
I’m also aware this is not a view shared by all mayors. LGNSW is trying to do its bit to get people as informed as they can be before casting their votes.
It’s our desire to organise a forum, hopefully in June, where key players will be able to address us on what the Voice to Parliament is and why it may or may not be necessary. I will keep you all informed as details are confirmed.
Surfing star to talk at conference
For those who have reserved a spot at this year’s Destination and Visitor Economy Conference, you are in for a treat as our final speaker on Wednesday the 31st is none other than the great Layne Beachley.
The seven-time women’s world surfing champion is an inspirational speaker and will bring this year’s conference to an impressive conclusion.
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