President's Message



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LGNSW CE David Reynolds and LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM with (from left) Kempsey Council's Cr Kinne Ring, Mayor Leo Hauville, Cr Kerri Riddington, Stephen Mitchell, Acting General Manager, and Daniel Thoroughgood, Acting Director Corporate and Commercial.

COUNCIL VISIT: LGNSW CE David Reynolds and LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM with (from left) Kempsey Council's Cr Kinne Ring, Mayor Leo Hauville, Cr Kerri Riddington, Stephen Mitchell, Acting General Manager, and Daniel Thoroughgood, Acting Director Corporate and Commercial.

17 October 2023

A pleasure to visit member councils

It was a pleasure to hit the road last week with the chief executive to visit mayors, general managers and councillors at Northern Beaches, Coffs Harbour, Clarence Valley, Bellingen, Nambucca, Kempsey and Port Macquarie Hastings councils.

There’s a familiar similarity in the issues and concerns that all these councils have. I’ve been hearing it during every council visit for the past 18 months.

Labour shortages are affecting service delivery, the housing crisis is an ongoing issue, as is the financial sustainability of councils. These are complex issues that go to the heart of the local government sector. LGNSW will continue to advocate on all of them.

Despite result, referendum showed sound democratic process

The Voice referendum has taken place and the result was as the polls predicted. Successful referenda are not easy to accomplish in Australia and as a result constitutional change is difficult to bring about.

While I know the result will be received differently across our communities, I am encouraged that we have again seen a sound democratic process being delivered, culminating last Saturday, and I wanted to thank the Australian Electoral Commission for its commitment to this task.

Regardless of the outcome, we all know that local government remains on the front line with our communities and we wish to see all of them do well. The challenge for all tiers of government now is to ensure that the work of closing the gap for our First Nations people continues, notwithstanding the weekend’s outcome.

Withdrawal of DAs circular

Many of you will no doubt have seen the government’s announcement pointing the finger at councils for withdrawn development applications and somehow blaming the local government sector for the housing crisis.

It’s important that I place on record LGNSW’s position, which is outlined in this media release.

The state’s housing crisis is a complex issue with a number of factors contributing.

In fact, the NSW Government’s own official housing supply report points to shortages of construction material and labour, rising interest rates, and falling housing prices as the drivers of the decline in residential building approvals.

In the past financial year, it should be noted, councils met the state targets for council-led planning proposals, approving more than 85,095 dwellings.

I have written to Minister Scully setting out a range of actions the Government can take to address the crisis, including:

  • Investing in public and social housing after decade-long neglect
  • Incentivising owners to return housing stock to the long-term rental market
  • Working in genuine partnership with councils and communities to do density well, and
  • Addressing industry and market barriers to housing supply which are beyond the control of councils.

Our member councils are approving 97% of all DAs, and we are playing our part in rezonings and housing approvals.

I will keep you all informed as this issue evolves.

Red Fleet Bill

Last Thursday, debate in parliament continued on the Bill to transfer ownership of Rural Fire Service (RFS) assets to the NSW Government.

This issue is a longstanding advocacy priority of LGNSW and I again thank the Hon. Adam Marshall MP for introducing his private member’s bill to parliament to achieve this objective.

I have met with members of the government, opposition and crossbench seeking support for this sensible reform and I thank the many mayors and councillors across NSW who have also advocated to their state MPs on this matter.

During debate in parliament last week, Minister Hoenig advised he had asked the Public Accounts Committee to inquire into and report on the operation of all emergency services including the funding and structure of the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service, as well as their relationship with councils and costs.

The Minister advised that this committee would also examine the sustainability of local government contributions to emergency services. This is a strong indication that our sector-wide advocacy on the Red Fleet and the Emergency Services Levy is being heard.

Debate will continue this week and I will keep you updated.

De-amalgamation Cootamundra Gundagai

The Minister for Local Government wrote to Cr Charlie Sheahan, Mayor of Cootamundra Regional Council (CGRC), earlier this month advising that the law does not enable the Minister to progress the existing demerger process for that council under section 218CC of the Local Government Act.

While Minister Hoenig remains convinced of the merits of a demerger, he has now asked the council to prepare an implementation plan for referral to a public inquiry and examination by the Local Government Boundaries Commission. 

Very understandably, Cr Sheahan has now written to me raising strong concerns that having followed the pathway to demerger provided by section 218CC of the Act. CGRC is now being compelled to proceed through a third Local Government Boundaries Commission process, public inquiry and Minister’s consideration under different sections of the Act due to what appears to be deficiencies in section 218CC of the Act.

It is unclear to me and to CGRC why these legislative deficiencies cannot be rectified through sensible amendments to the Local Government Act, rather than another drawn out inquiry and review process. 

I have written to Minister Hoenig asking that the legal advice that is the basis of the government’s decision be publicly released, and that the Minister further consider how a fairer outcome for CGRC’s demerger can be achieved. 

In line with resolution 106 of the 2022 LGNSW Annual Conference, and the intent of section 218CC of the Local Government Act that was supported by the now NSW Government while in opposition in 2021, I will also be calling for the Government to maintain its commitment to fund the financial costs of de-amalgamation.

In the interests of transparency, fairness and good government, I am hopeful that the Minister will agree to these requests.

ECEC scholarship grants

The NSW Government’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) 2022/23 scholarships program has been launched.

Councils provide more ECEC services than any other provider in NSW. Indeed, a key LGNSW advocacy priority is for governments to commit to council-run early childhood education and care facilities being eligible for all new funding opportunities and grant programs for the early childhood education sector.

I am extremely pleased that the NSW Government’s $12 million program to help to grow a strong and skilled ECEC workforce is open to those working in the local government sector.

The 2023-24 ECEC Scholarship Program will help to offset the costs associated for students studying for ECEC educator and teaching qualifications. The recipients will make a difference in the lives of children, families and communities in NSW.

More information

Disaster Ready Fund Round Two

Applications will soon open for round two of the Australian Government’s Disaster Ready Fund (DRF), which provides up to $200 million annually for disaster mitigation and resilience funding to states, territories and local governments.

In early November, the New South Wales Reconstruction Authority (NSWRA) intends to open an Expression of Interest (EOI) for projects to be considered under this program.

One of LGNSW’s key advocacy priorities is for increased financial support and funding for the betterment of local community infrastructure in advance of disasters where the risks are identified, and in the recovery stage. 

I encourage all councils to start considering what projects you will put forward once this important program opens.

Further information



Darriea sign-off