Councils have welcomed incoming Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock to her new role, pledging to work with the South Coast MP and other incoming ministers on key advocacy priorities for the sector.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said Minister Hancock would bring personal local government experience to the role, having served on Shoalhaven City Council for 17 years as a councillor.
“Local government plays a key role in helping public policy to deliver public good, and is critical in ensuring both tiers of government work together to ensure real benefits flow through to our communities,” Clr Scott said.
“Over the next four years LGNSW will further build its strong working relationship with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and looks forward to working with her new team.
“Councils are closest to their communities, so working collaboratively and constructively with the sector in an equal partnership is the best way to deliver real results for the people of NSW.”
UTS Research has found 75% of Australians see local government as best able to make decisions about local areas, compared with 26% who nominate the state government.
The LGNSW President congratulated the new Cabinet appointments, highlighting new Ministerial appointments who will play important roles in helping to deliver key policy priorities: Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes; Water, Property and Housing Minister Melinda Pavey; Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayre; Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean; Western NSW Minister Adam Marshall; and Skills and Tertiary Education Minister Dr Geoff Lee.
Clr Scott said LGNSW’s key priorities for these newly-appointed Ministers and the Berijiklian-Barilaro Government over the next term included:
- Saving recycling by reinvesting the NSW Waste Levy in a coordinated state-wide recycling and waste management approach to drive a circular economy and manage our waste here at home
- Making public libraries financially sustainable by providing additional funding and a legislated commitment provide 50% of funding required in perpetuity
- Establishing an infrastructure funding program so councils can plan, build and maintain local roads, freight routes, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, green space and sporting facilities, to meet rapid population growth and movements in NSW
- Restoring planning powers to communities so councils and neighbourhoods can make decisions about developments that affect them, fix the private certification system and set housing targets with local governments, not for them
- A public inquiry into cost shifting so no new, increased or transferred responsibilities are imposed on local government without a sufficient corresponding source of revenue or revenue-raising capacity
- Cut rating red tape, allowing councils to meet community needs by levying rates up to 2% over the rate peg limit without having to seek special rate variation approval
- Supporting disadvantaged communities through untied, recurrent grants for councils serving the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas in NSW
- Protecting local water utilities by maintaining local ownership and management of council-owned water utilities (LWUs) to secure water supply and sewerage services for regional NSW
- Renewing the intergovernmental agreement and work as an equal partner with local government across all issues affecting councils and communities
- Making council elections fair by amending local government expenditure provisions of the Electoral Funding Act 2018 before the 2020 elections
- Addressing skills shortages via a new, annual $10m program to increase the number of cadets, apprentices, trainees and university graduates employed by councils
- Opening superannuation to Mayors and Councillors, in line with elected federal and state parliamentarians and everyone else in the Australian workforce.