Media Release: LGNSW calls for the deferral of Early Intervention Bill

14 March 2013

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has held an urgent meeting with the Minister of Local Government today and demanded the deferral of the NSW Government’s Early Intervention Bill until all details of the proposed legislation are publicly released.

The LGNSW Joint Presidents questioned the Minister for Local Government as to why LGNSW and the 152 councils impacted by this proposed legislation were not consulted and strongly urged him to do so before putting it before Parliament.

Joint President of Local Government NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said NSW councils are entitled to be consulted on major issues impacting the Local Government sector in NSW, as outlined in our proposed Intergovernmental Agreement with the State Government.

“We will be informing all of our member councils of our issues with this Bill and urging them to contact their local MP calling for the deferral of this proposed legislation until the NSW Local Government sector is properly consulted,” said Cr Rhoades.

“Until recently, LGNSW was only aware of the broader details of the proposed legislation and was not privy to the details, which signify a fundamental shift in power.”

“If passed, this legislation will undermine the democratic responsibilities of Mayors and councils elected by residents and ratepayers by making councils responsible to the Minister.”

“The lack of detail and broad scope for the Performance Improvement Order criteria is extremely worrying. The NSW Government needs to give a clearer definition of what constitutes a ‘non-functioning’ and ‘non-effective’ council.

Joint President of Local Government NSW, Cr Ray Donald, said this lack of detail is also apparent in the Bill’s criteria for suspending councils for a three month period.

“While the Bill provides for councils to respond to an intension of suspension notice, there is no explanation given on the situations that would qualify for a council’s suspension”, said Cr Donald.

“How can councils rebut or defend their effectiveness or position to the Minister when there are no clear parameters for suspension defined in the proposed legislation?”

“Compounding our concerns is the provision for the Minister for Local Government to completely bypass the ‘notice of intention’ requirement and immediately suspend a council if it is a matter of urgency.”

“Councils have the right to know what constitutes an emergency and how they can access a fair and transparent review process.”

LGNSW will be contacting the Shadow Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Sophie Cotsis MLC, asking for her support on this issue to help ensure the NSW Government implements transparent and democratically just processes to manage council performance.

Note: Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM and Cr Ray Donald will both carry out the duties of Joint President of the LGNSW Interim Board until the election of the first LGNSW President and Board in October 2013.

Media Enquiries
Cr Ray Donald                        Joint President, Local Government NSW: 0438 699 910
Cr Keith Rhoades, AFSM       Joint President, Local Government NSW: 0408 256 405
Alex Power                             LGNSW Senior Media Officer: 0408 603 093