October 6 - 12, 2013: Issue 131

  First Ever Local Government NSW Annual Conference

 Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of NSW.

 First Ever Local Government NSW Annual Conference

On 1 March 2013 the Local Government Association of NSW and the Shires Association of NSW merged to become one association, known as Local Government NSW, representing all councils in NSW. Local Government NSW (LGNSW) represents the interests of its members, which include 152 general purpose councils, 12 special purpose councils and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. Formerly known as the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA), the two organisations officially became Local Government NSW on 1 March 2013, uniting and strengthening the voice of the local government sector in NSW.

This week the representatives of these councils gathered at Town Hall for their historic first conference of this new association. This first LGNSW Conference provided NSW mayors and councillors the opportunity to come together to discuss significant issues impacting the Local Government sector and the communities they serve.

Right: Cr. Sue Young and Cr. Bob Grace at the Conference.

LGNSW identified five strategic themes that were the focus of the 2013 Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Annual Conference. These themes were:
• Local Government Review.
• Local Government Financial Sustainability.
• Waste.
• The New Planning System.
• Local and State Government Relations.

Although it was stated that a Record of Decisions from the LGNSW Conference would be available on the LGNSW website from close of business, Friday 4 October, no such record has been published as yet. We hope to bring you the outline of these in our next Issue.

Among the key Issues to be discussed was the new Planning System for NSW of which the then interim LGNSW Joint Presidents Cr Ray Donald and Cr Keith Rhoades, AFSM spoke of on September 18th, 2013 as an answer to their 11th of September 2013 call for a restoration of balance : “back to the community in his Government’s proposed planning reforms or risk a council-led direct action campaign against the legislation.

Concerns about the proposed changes have been raised repeatedly by councils and LGNSW since the initial Green Paper was released by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure in July 2012. In the most recent correspondence to Mr O’Farrell this week, the LGNSW Joint Presidents reiterated their concern that the planning reforms favoured developers at the expense of the community.

Joint President of Local Government NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said the NSW Government is not only ignoring the community, but breaking an election promise.

“The Coalition’s election Contract with NSW promised the return of planning powers to the community, and Premier O’Farrell and his Ministers have failed, and in fact broken their election promise, and we have had enough!” Cr Rhoades said.  “Councils and the broader community do not accept that the proposed new system delivers on this promise and many actually believe that it is doing quite the opposite.”

“With the NSW Government ignoring repeated calls from Local Government NSW to amend its proposed changes to the planning system, councils are becoming increasingly frustrated.”

“If Premier O’Farrell does not respond to our letter within the next fortnight as we have requested, it is highly likely that some form of direct action campaign against the legislation will be proposed at the LGNSW Annual Conference next month.”

On the 18th of September LGNSW announced:

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) welcomes the agreement by the Hon Brad Hazzard MP to give consideration to review and make amendments to the contentious legislation following a meeting with LGNSW yesterday. The meeting followed correspondence from the LGNSW Joint Presidents to NSW Premier, the Hon Barry O’Farrell MP, urging him to restore the balance back to the community in his Government’s proposed planning reforms.

Minister Hazzard confirmed he was willing to actively consider a number of concessions on the proposed new Planning legislation, responding to LGNSW calls for action. These include:
Code assessable developments will no longer be used in existing low density suburbs and will be limited to growth areas and Urban Activation Precincts.
The triple bottom line (economic, social and environmental) will be strengthened, restoring the balance to decision making.
The proposed limit on holding infrastructure contributions extends from three to five years, with provision for applying for an extension.
Joint President of Local Government NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said the meeting with Minister Hazzard was productive and a good result for Local Government.

Interim President Cr. Keith Rhoades AFSM has also been announced as the first new President of LGNSW Board, a position he shall hold for two years. Pittwater Council’s Cr. Julie Hegarty has also been elected to this new Board. Details of all those elected are listed below.

Pittwater Council was a finalist for an A R Bluett Award this year, recognition of great work the Councillors and staff of Pittwater Council have achieved over the last year, including the new sportsfields at North Narrabeen High School, the Enliven Pittwater project to renew Pittwater’s business centres and the partnership with the state government on planning for the future of Warriewood Valley and Ingleside.

The winner for this first new phase of local government was announced as Mid Western Regional Council, based at Mudgee and Tumbarumba Shire Council. Tumbarumba Shire Council is one of the smallest in NSW, and is one of only two councils in the state, the other being Sydney City Council, as having a ‘strong’ financial sustainability rating. The feature of the council’s submission was its ability to work in partnership with state and federal government, private enterprise and the community, to deliver services to a small rural community at a time when many other communities have suffered reduced services. Highlights of the year included stage one of a retirement village project, upgrade of CBD (including free wi-fi), library extensions, a new waste water treatment plant, extensive upgrades to reserves, recreation and camping facilities, stage two of a housing estate, and the development of a new office and information centre in a joint project with National Parks & Wildlife Service at Khancoban.  These were achieved against the background of four declared natural disasters and over $9M damage to roads, bridges and other community facilities.

The Trustees also made special mention of the achievements of Goldenfields Water County Council based at Temora and Upper Lachlan Shire Council based at Crookwell.

Trust Chairman Graeme Fleming concluded by saying, “at a time when local government is under increasing scrutiny, the Trustees were most impressed with the quality of the submissions for the 2013 A R Bluett award and would like to praise the level of excellence that exists within Local Government.”

“Local Government can be more than proud of their achievements and this should be more widely acknowledged by other levels of Government and the general community”,  Mr Fleming said.

The first ever LGNSW Annual Conference was opened by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of NSW and we are privileged to be able to share a record of this address with you:

Speech by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of NSW at the Local Government NSW First ever Annual conference at Sydney Town Hall, Wednesday, 2 October 2013

It is indeed a pleasure to join you all this morning for the opening of the 2013 Local Government Annual Conference – certainly you represent that absolutely indispensable level of Government, which is certainly closest to the people for whom it is called upon to serve. And certainly you also represent that form of Government, from whom the people can directly demand accountability.

May I at this point thank Glen Doyle for his Welcome to Country and also affirm my respect for the Traditional Custodians of this land upon which we are gathered – the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, - indeed for all Australia’s Indigenous people, their ancestors and descendants, who have nurtured our great continent for tens of thousands of years. And I would like also to thank Sarah Toth for her beautiful presentation of our National Anthem.

There can be no doubt that for a diversity of reasons, not only media vigielnce and reporting, our well informed electorates demand more and more from their elected representatives, most especially in Local Government. And – I believe – you – the elected members of Local Government, and your skilled support staff, rarely fail to meet those continuing high expectations.

As I traverse the various regions of this rich and beautiful state, I have had the privilege of visiting many Local Government areas, meeting the Mayors and Councillors, citizens and children. I am constantly in awe of the extraordinary inclusiveness, sophistication, the services and responsiveness of each region to its people.

The importance placed upon the culturual life of the community and respect for, and celebration of the history and development – in its broadest sense – ancient, colonial and post-colonial is a source of pride and indeed gratitude – although so often we take this bounty for granted. But as well as the face to face responsiveness which characterises Local Government, there are also continuing challenges and demands – demands engendered by technological advances, and an increasingly knowledgeable and sophisticated electorate.
In recent times I have had the very great pleasure of attending a number of Local Government Historic Commemorations in our state, each celebrating sesquicentenary anniversaries of the official proclamations of a number of our great inland towns and cities.

These have Included:
WARREN, (SUNDAY, 17 APRIL 2011)
GOULBURN, (THURSDAY, 14 MARCH 2013)
BREWARRINA, (SUNDAY, 21 APRIL 2013)
NARRANDERA, (SATURDAY, 27 APRIL 2013)
OBERON, (SATURDAY, 6 JULY 2013)
Each has been different, imbued with its own special character but all sharing that extraordinary endowment ‘The Australian Spirit’ built on trust and camaraderie.

I am aware that the program spanning your two day conference is of critical importance in drawing together experiences and insights to chart the way ahead. This includes the very important challenge of resolving issues relating to the Planning system in NSW.
Other topics of critical importance to all such as financial stability, the incorporation of your two Associations to produce one voice, and the countless advantages of working together across the state.

I wish you all a most stimulating and enriching conference and a safe return home.

It is with great pleasure that I declare open the Local Government NSW 2013 Annual Conference.

Media release from LGNSW: LGNSW Board

The new Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Board has been elected at the first annual LGNSW Conference at the Sydney Town Hall.

Yesterday, Coffs Harbour Councillor Keith Rhoades AFSM was elected as the new President of LGNSW, and will lead the newly elected Board of Local Government NSW for the next two years.

This is the first LGNSW Board election since the Local Government Association of NSW and the Shires Association of NSW merged to become one strong, united association on 1 March 2013.

The following councillors have been elected to serve as Directors on the first LGNSW Board:

Metropolitan/Urban Directors

Khal Asfour - Bankstown City Council
Zoe Baker - North Sydney Council
George Greiss - Campbelltown City Council
Michael Hawatt - Canterbury City Council
Paul Hawker - Campbelltown City Council
Julie Hegarty - Pittwater City Council
Leo Kelly - Blacktown City Council
Scott Lloyd - Parramatta City Council
William (Bill) Pickering - Hurstville City Council
Emanuel Tsardoulias - Marrickville Council

Regional/Rural Directors

Jodie Harrison - Lake Macquarie City Council
Chris Manchester - Central Darling Shire Council
Greg Matthews - Dubbo City Council
Phyllis Miller - Forbes Shire Council
Denise Osborne - Greater Hume Shire Council
Lindsay Renwick - Deniliquin Council
Ben Shields - Dubbo City Council
Fergus Thomson - Eurobodalla Shire Council
Darriea Turley - Broken Hill City Council
Maria Woods - Walcha Shire Council

On Wednesday 2 October 2013 the following Office Bearers of LGNSW were elected:

President - Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, Coffs Harbour City Council
Treasurer - Cr Paul Braybrooks OAM, Cootamundra Shire Council
Vice President (Regional / Rural) - Cr Bruce Miller, Cowra Shire Council
Vice President (Metropolitan/Urban) - Cr Con Hindi, Hurstville City Council

The LGNSW elections were managed by the Australian Electoral Commission. The Results showing candidates in ballot order can be found at: http://www.lgnsw.org.au/events-training/local-government-nsw-annual-conference/election-lgnsw-board-directors

Cr. Jacqui Townsend, Mayor of Pittwater at LGNSW first Annual Conference, Wednesday, 9th of October, 2013.  

 Glen Doyle of the Eora Nation gave the Welcome to Country

 Record of Decisions
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Annual Conference 2013
Sydney Town Hall, Sydney NSW 1 - 3 October 2013

Standing Orders
The standing orders, as written on pages 5-7 of the business paper, have been adopted as amended.

Action Statements
In the course of Conference the following action statements were adopted by resolution:

Strategic Theme 1: Local Government Review

ACTIONS
Opposing the Panel’s proposals relating to restructuring councils
Advocate that the NSW Government (and Opposition /other parties in the NSW Parliament):
 Honour and reaffirm their core pledge prior to the March 2011 NSW State election of no forced council amalgamations.
 Include in their policies, that no form of amalgamation, boundary change or formation of a regional grouping of councils, shall occur without:
 Plebiscites first being held in affected councils, or
 Small communities living on the boundaries of two council areas having been polled.
Working through the Panel’s proposals relating to the future of Local Government restructuring councils
Advocate that the NSW Government:
 Prior to the Government considering the final proposals from the Independent Local Government Review Panel, the Government embark on a robust and rigorous public engagement process (rather than an information process) which takes on board the extensive issues and concerns of affected stakeholders and not rely on councils (who are affected stakeholders) to undertake this public engagement process.
 Ensure that the views and values of local communities are reflected in any subsequent structural reform of Local Government.
 Clarify what Government financial assistance and legislative reform (for example rate pegging) will be available to councils in the short, medium and long term to facilitate structural change and improve sustainability.
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 Give urgent consideration to the final proposals of the Panel and communicate its policy position in specific reference to the Panel’s proposals at the earliest opportunity.
 Ensure no reduction in representation in the first term of an amalgamated council.
 Rejects the compulsory transfer of local water utilities to regional or other bodies.

Strategic Theme 2: Local Government Financial Sustainability
ACTIONS
Advocate:
 The Australian Government, in co-operation with State and Territory Governments and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) conduct a thorough far-reaching review of intergovernmental financial relationships with the objective of developing a new taxation revenue sharing framework that ensures that Local Government has access to revenue that is commensurate with its roles and responsibilities, including the need to reduce the infrastructure renewals backlog.
 The NSW Government completely removes rate pegging on the grounds that it is contrary to the objectives of the Integrated Planning and Reporting (IPR) legislation and is now redundant; and review and reform rate exemptions.
 The NSW Government repeal legislative constraints on Local Government fees and charges.
 The NSW Government comply with and support the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) entered into by the NSW Government with Local Government to initiate new negotiations on the cessation of cost shifting and the reversal of existing costs shifting measures.
and
LGNSW continue to pursue financial and full recognition of Local Government in the Australian constitution.

Strategic Theme 3: Waste
ACTIONS
Illegal dumping, particularly asbestos/hazardous materials
Advocate that the NSW Government:
 Implement a state-wide program to combat illegal dumping, which:
 Provides stronger penalties for illegal dumping, particularly hazardous materials.
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 Provides direct assistance via funding or tip fee subsidies for councils disposing of illegally dumped material at approved facilities, with such assistance to meet the full cost of these activities.
 Review the cost structure and arrangements for disposing of hazardous materials (for example asbestos) in NSW to encourage and facilitate the legal disposal. Specific suggestions include:
 Removal of the s88 levy from asbestos disposal.
 Undertaking an information and compliance program targeting home renovators and related industry.
 Clarify in the Local Government Act 1993 that if a landowner fails to take adequate clean-up measures in a timely manner, then council can undertake the works and claim the costs as a debt against the property.
 Introduce legislation requiring that asbestos information be provided for all house sales in NSW, similar to the ACT Asbestos Awareness Program.
Waste Less, Recycle More
Advocate that the NSW Government:
 Extend the Waste Less Recycle More timeframe for delivery of projects by two years, particularly for those relating to infrastructure.
 Review the Waste Less Recycle More initiative to broaden its scope to include eligibility for sustainability programs, or consider separate funding for sustainability programs.
and
LGNSW continues to advocate for Container Deposit Legislation (CDL).
LGNSW continues to fund the Boomerang Alliance.

Strategic Theme 4: The New Planning System
ACTIONS
Advocate that the NSW Government:
 Respond to the concerns that have been expressed by Local Government and the broader community about the proposed new planning system.
 Enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with LGNSW to specifically deal with the partnership and the new planning system.
 Form an implementation steering committee including the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I) and LGNSW to oversee the transition process.
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 Ensure Local Government participation in DP&I expert working groups, to develop details and options for addressing particular issues.
 Establish consultation processes for the development of the Community Participation Guidelines, State Planning Policies Model Codes, etc.
 Work with Local Government in designing and establishing suitable mechanisms and/or groups through which councillors can have ongoing involvement in planning and decision making at the regional level.
 Engage with state agencies and Local Government to develop the one-stop shop for concurrences.
 Engage with Local Government to further develop the governance framework for subregional planning boards and ensure Local Government Board members have a decision-making role on these Boards and that they are not merely consultative mechanisms.
 Commit funding for community engagement, revision and development of new sub regional and local plans and for the development of the Planning Portal.
 Include the objects of existing Environmental Planning and Assessment Act covering ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and the polluter pays principle in the new Planning Act, ensuring they are central.
 Expand a ‘plan first’ type levy to fund council resource requirements for implementing a new planning system.
 Commit to a further round of public consultation on revised proposals following considerations of current submissions.
 Highlight the importance of the agricultural sector in the planning process and the strategies by which agricultural land can be protected.
 Tighten the regulation and supervision of Private Certifiers.
and
That LGNSW
 Oppose any planning legislation that doesn’t include the following principles:
 That community participation is enshrined at all stages of planning.
 Councils are given equal status to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure (the Minister) in planning decisions.
 Requires triple bottom line outcomes for planning decisions.
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 No requirement to rewrite standard instrument Local Environment Plans (LEPs) which are less than ten years old.
 No strategic Compatibility Certificates.
 Further, that any re-written legislation be placed on public exhibition for a reasonable time.
 Call on the Minister to return to his fundamental objective of a central cadastral database and a single document of development controls applying to each land parcel, similar to the title details available on the register.
 Call on the NSW Government to conduct then release the results of a comprehensive analysis of the White Paper submissions.
 Express strong concern about the removal of community consultation from any stage of the planning process and call on the NSW Government to ensure all planning considerations are made with infrastructure commitments, for example childcare and transport etc.

Strategic Theme 5: Local and State Government Relations
Strategic Theme 5 (Local and State Government Relations) and the Ungrouped Issues have been referred to the LGNSW Board for consideration. For further information please contact Noel Baum at
noel.baum@lgnsw.org.au

Report and Photos by A J Guesdon, 2013.