President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley.

20 February 2024

Daily asbestos meetings now a priority

On Friday I started attending what are now daily meetings of the new NSW Asbestos Taskforce, established in response to the growing number of sites where asbestos contamination has been found in mulch.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority is leading an inspection and assessment program, as well as a supplier contact tracing program to uncover all possible sites where the contaminated mulch may have been used.

It’s so important that our communities are kept safe as this investigation widens and the scale of clean up becomes clear.

I have sought assurances that all councils with known and potential asbestos mulch sites in their LGAs be kept fully and quickly informed as new information emerges. 

In the longer term, it is critical that the NSW Government makes asbestos identification, removal, transport and disposal cheaper, easier and safer – including by removing the Waste Levy on asbestos.

If your council has any issues or concerns you would like escalated to the taskforce, please email LGNSW Project Manager – Asbestos Policy Daniel Adler.

The NSW Government has released a toolkit to help communicate information about the asbestos that is being found in mulch at a growing number of sites in NSW.  

Access the toolkit

Your council may wish to use this toolkit to communicate important safety messages to your community and advise what steps to take if they believe they have received asbestos-contaminated mulch.

Members of the public and businesses concerned about contamination in mulch they have received or on-sold should contact the EPA Environment Line on 131 555 or email [email protected].

LGNSW has also shared this toolkit with general managers and with council staff in our asbestos network and contaminated land network.

Short term rental review

The NSW Government has listened to Local Government NSW (LGNSW) and councils and launched the long-awaited review of the short-term rental accommodation (STRA) sector.

The review will also consider policy options to incentivise the use of vacant property and holiday homes for long-term residency.

Councils have long called for better tools to manage the impacts of STRA platforms on the availability of long-term rental housing.

Most recently, councils resolved at the 2023 LGNSW Annual Conference in November to call for local government to have the ability to respond flexibly in this area.

While not a silver bullet for the housing and homelessness crisis facing our state, STRA reform is one of the fastest ways to provide immediate relief to housing pressures.

The NSW Government has published a discussion paper and FAQs and is seeking feedback by 14 March 2024.

LGNSW would also welcome your feedback which, along with conference resolutions, will inform our response.

Housing reforms: roundtable, data and modelling

At my meeting with Minister Jackson and Minister Scully earlier this month, I was pleased to secure a commitment to hold a roundtable with councils on the proposed housing reforms. LGNSW is liaising with the Ministers’ offices now on suitable timing.

I also asked the Ministers to consider releasing the modelling and technical studies underpinning the proposed planning reforms for NSW, and have followed up this request in a letter to the Ministers.

As councils seek to engage with the NSW Government to better understand the impacts of the proposed reforms, they would benefit from access to the modelling, technical studies and feasibility assessments that the government has used to inform its policy development.

Release of the modelling and studies would demonstrate transparency and good governance, which is fundamental to bringing communities along, given the significant and wide-ranging nature of the proposed reforms.

Win - Public Accounts Committee inquiry into RFS assets, premises and funding

In another positive development, the Public Accounts Committee has started its inquiry into the funding, maintenance, accounting and operational management of NSW Rural Fire Service assets and premises.

The inquiry will consider arrangements between the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and councils, as well as the appropriate role of local authorities in providing emergency services and the sustainability of contributions to emergency service provision.

This inquiry is a critical opportunity for our sector to highlight the absurdity of the NSW Government’s position that councils should recognise the depreciation of the NSW Government’s RFS mobile assets (the Red Fleet) and call for change.

Further information on the inquiry and the Terms of Reference are available online, with submissions closing 10 May 2024.

LGNSW will be making a submission and would also appreciate feedback from councils and Board members. Please direct your comments or copies of submissions to Shaun McBride, LGNSW Chief Economist.

Local Government Week Awards

Applications for the Local Government Week Awards are now open.

The awards are an opportunity for councils to showcase and celebrate successful projects, campaigns and plans that have made a significant benefit to your community.

Councils are welcome to submit an entry in one or more of the following award categories:

Read our 2023 Award Winners: Project Case Studies to learn more about the projects, plans and strategies that were crowned winners. We've also created FAQs to help answer some of your burning questions. 


Darriea sign-off