26 September 2023
Council visits with our new CE
Last week was an opportunity to have a number of road trips with our new Chief Executive, David Reynolds.
We visited Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Oberon and Penrith councils.
It’s always a pleasure to hear firsthand from mayors, general managers and councillors about the issues facing councils and any advocacy needs they may have.
New Quarterly Housing Supply Insights Monitor
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has published its latest edition of the Quarterly Housing Supply Insights Monitor, covering April to June 2023.
The report provides data and analysis across each stage of the housing supply pipeline: strategic planning, zoning, infrastructure servicing, development approval, construction and completions.
Pleasingly, the report shows that councils are continuing to play their part in rezonings and housing approvals, showing that over 2022-23 NSW has met its target for council-led planning proposals and that NSW has exceeded its interim two-year rezoning target by 29%.
Councils also approved more than 85,095 dwellings in 2022-23, in addition to the 32,684 dwellings approved as part of state or regionally significant development.
The report makes clear that, while councils continue to play their part, residential building approvals have fallen since mid-2021, driven by multiple factors beyond the control of local government such as shortages of construction material and labour, rising interest rates, and falling housing prices.
While councils are always looking for opportunities to improve and the scale of the housing and affordability crisis will require concerted action from all levels of government, it is pleasing to see council efforts reflected in the NSW Government’s official data.
Red Fleet – Meetings with Minister Hoenig and Adam Marshall MP
I met last week with the Minister for Local Government, the Hon Ron Hoenig MP, and the Hon Adam Marshall MP, to discuss our sector’s ongoing advocacy seeking to amend the Rural Fires Act to make clear that RFS mobile assets are appropriately vested in the NSW Government.
Councils have no say in the acquisition, deployment or disposal of these assets and we do not support the position that the depreciation costs for these NSW Government assets should be reflected in local government financial statements.
I thanked Adam Marshall for introducing his private member’s bill to parliament to achieve this objective, and LGNSW is calling on all members of parliament to support this sensible amendment.
Minister Dib response
The Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon Jihad Dib MP, has responded to my letter which sought an update on a foreshadowed review of emergency services expenditure.
The Minister confirmed that the NSW Government is undertaking a comprehensive expenditure review to identify budget savings and ensure that emergency services are delivered efficiently and within budget.
The Minister also recognised the cost pressures councils are facing and noted the forthcoming review of the financial model of the local government sector and IPART’s review of the rate peg methodology.
All councils strongly support a well-funded emergency services sector along with the critical contribution of emergency services workers and volunteers, many of whom are councillors and council staff.
It is essential that these services be supported through an equitable, transparent and sustainable funding model.
IPART review of rate peg methodology
IPART has now finalised its review of the rate peg methodology and handed its final report to the Minister for Local Government for consideration.
Minister Hoenig has subsequently requested additional modelling work to be undertaken, and we understand that this is so the full impact on councils and ratepayers is better understood prior to the release of the report.
IPART has an important role in providing independent advice to government and we are hopeful that this critical report will be released imminently in the interests of transparency in government.
Apply now: Ministerial appointment to Food Regulation Forum
I encourage all mayors and councillors to consider nominating to be a ministerial appointment representing local government on the Food Regulation Forum.
The forum provides high level strategic advice to the NSW Food Authority on councils’ food safety work, consistent with the Food Act 2003 and the Food Regulation Partnership between councils, food businesses and the NSW Government. The forum meets about three times a year.
Further information and apply
NSW Training Award
Finally, I was thrilled that LGNSW was announced winners of a NSW Training Award.
The fee-free course Asbestos Related Work for Local Government, a collaboration between Coates Hire Operations Pty Ltd and Local Government NSW, was the winner of the 2023 NSW Industry Collaboration Award.
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