Collective action pays off - Presidents comment

Article image - Collective action pays off  - Presidents comment By Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) President Linda Scott.

Alongside our New South Wales (NSW) councils, we’ve enjoyed a run of big advocacy wins in NSW over the past few months, illustrating local government’s impact when it takes collective action on issues affecting us all.

With our members’ support we championed 12 key priorities in the run up to the recent NSW State Election, securing an additional $60 million for public library funding over the next four years, $355 million for drought assistance, substantial investment in water infrastructure, $1billion in new funding to fix local roads and timber bridges, and a commitment to take back 15,000kms of local government roads to combat cost shifting. I’m so proud that more than 100 councils resolved to be part of our Renew Our Libraries campaign, a perfect example of how a common cause can bring real, tangible benefits to our communities.

Our sustained opposition to an unexpected hike in the emergency services levy recently paid off with the NSW Government announcing it would fully fund the increase for the first financial year. With so many NSW mayors and councillors volunteering as fire fighters, we know local government fully supports fair workers' compensation for firefighters. But the shock increase – imposed by the NSW Government with no consultation – added up to 25 percent to individual council bills in the middle of our budget finalisation. I’ve met with Premier Berejiklian about this, and am looking forward to sitting down with the government to find a better, long-term solution to ensure councils have a say and are protected from unexpected increases in the future.

Recycling is still a huge issue. LGNSW’s Save Our Recycling campaign received a high level of support from councils and the wider community for action to expand the recycling industry in NSW, and we are continuing to call upon the NSW Government to reinvest the annual $772 million NSW Waste Levy in a coordinated state-wide approach to recycling and waste management.

I recently had the great pleasure of joining representatives from councils, state government and the community for Inner West Council’s War on Food Waste Forum. Inner West and City of Sydney councils are setting aspirational goals of zero waste to landfill by 2036 and 2030, respectively, and the forum provided a timely opportunity to discuss how we can work together to make food recycling a reality.

I expect waste and recycling to feature high on the agenda at the upcoming LGNSW Annual Conference (Warwick Farm, 14-16 October) and I look forward to providing updates in this vital policy area soon.