President's Message


Phone: 02 9242 4000
[email protected]

Nuatali Nelmes and Darriea Turley.

LGNSW's new Treasurer, Newcastle Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes, with re-elected President Cr Darriea Turley AM.

16 November 2023

Congratulations to our newly elected Board members

What a terrific week we had this week at the LGNSW Annual Conference.

I want to congratulate all candidates who stood for election to our LGNSW Board. It is an honour and a privilege to represent our council colleagues from right across NSW, and I thank you for your commitment to our sector demonstrated by your decision to run.

The AEC yesterday formally declared the outcome of the election, with six new Directors joining 12 who have been re-elected to the Board. Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes was elected as Treasurer, Canterbury-Bankstown councillor Khal Asfour as Metropolitan/Urban Vice-President, and Phyllis Miller AM as Regional/Rural Vice-President.

See our newly constituted Board in full

I was honoured to be re-elected as LGNSW President, and am delighted to have the opportunity to continue to represent the sector. My first duties are of course both happy and sad: while I was delighted to welcome the new additions to the Board, I must also farewell those Directors who are outgoing.

Councillors George Griess (Campbelltown City), Nathan Hagarty (Liverpool), Danielle Mulholland (Kyogle), Carmelo Pesco (Sutherland Shire) and Clare Raffan (Canterbury Bankstown) leave the Board with my grateful thanks for their service, and I know I speak on behalf of all of LGNSW in wishing them the very best in their continued work on behalf of their local communities. On a personal level, I would like to especially thank fromer Penrith Mayor and now MP Karen McKeown OAM for her untiring support and exemplary service to the Board and our sector. I know she will continue to advocate for our councils and communities in the NSW Parliament as the Member for Penrith.

Our new Board will hold its inaugural meeting next month, but we have already hit the ground running with our advocacy program. Resolutions passed at the conference are already being used to update our policy platform and formulate LGNSW’s advocacy priorities for 2024. We’ll report back on those priorities in the new year, after the Board has had a chance to finalise outstanding motions and endorse the final result.

IPART Rate Peg Decision

It is with great pleasure that I can report that the IPART has determined that the methodology for calculating the rate peg will be changed to better reflect the actual costs incurred by councils.

Changes include:

  • Forward-looking rather than retrospective indicators, to help rates keep pace with costs
  • A base rate calculation that recognised the different financial challenges faced by different kinds of councils, from large metropolitan to small rural councils
  • Three further components which have a specific budgetary impact on councils, including employee costs, asset costs and other operating costs
  • ESL adjustment components factored into the rate peg calculations.

It’s such a positive outcome after a huge amount of work and advocacy, not only by LGNSW but by many individual councils who drafted submissions and lent their own voices in support.

Fee-free training for water operations staff

I was so pleased to see the NSW Government announce up to 900 fee-free vocational training placements across NSW to counter the shortage of skilled water operators. 

These placements are opportunities for our regional workforce to train and upskill, and will help secure the future of our critical water and sewerage infrastructure.

Our 2022 Local Government Workforce Skills and Capability Report for NSW identified water network operator positions as among the most difficult to fill, with shortages becoming more critical in recent years.

This kind of measure from the NSW Government aligns strongly with our skills shortages advocacy priority, and for that I thank the Minister for Water, Rose Jackson MLC, as well as the Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education, Steve Whan MP.

LGNSW submission on rezoning pathways program

LGNSW recently provided feedback to an evaluation of the State-Assessed Planning Proposal (SAPP) pilot program, one of two reforms introduced by the former government under the Rezoning Planning Pathways Program.

Under the SAPP program, developers were invited to put forward rezoning proposals for large developments for assessment by the Department of Planning and Environment. However, after months of review, just five projects from 100 applications were selected to progress. LGNSW and councils welcomed the announced review of this undemocratic program, which not only lacked transparency but had the strong potential to undermine strategic plans.

SAPP would not have done anything to solve the major delays in the rezoning process, because it did not address the fundamental causes of these delays: infrastructure funding shortfalls and delivery arrangements, delays in NSW Government agency feedback, and the often conflicting and unresolved priorities of different state agencies.

In fact, the program could actually slow down the rezoning process by diverting resources. We believe it sends the wrong message to the community, helps undermine trust in planners and the planning system, and risks the social licence for all development.

LGNSW submissions

Over the last term of the LGNSW Board, we made almost 100 submissions to the NSW and Australian governments on key issues of importance to our sector. We need your input to inform these submissions and ensure they reflect your needs and expectations, so please keep an eye on this newsletter for notice of upcoming submissions to which you’d like to contribute.



Darriea sign-off