Election priorities for local government
NSW state elections are often described as being a “law and order election” or a “poles and wires election”. The truth is that every election is really a “quality of life election”.
Making a choice about who to trust with your vote is about so much more than choosing one local candidate or another – it’s really about choosing the future you want for you and your family and friends: the communities you want to live in, the services your loved one needs, and the buildings and bike paths you want your taxpayer dollars spent on.
There’s nothing like an election to focus the minds of our future local members of parliament on the issues that matter most to local communities. That’s why, on behalf of the local governments of NSW, we’re advocating “quality of life” priorities ahead of the NSW election.
With our communities, councils across NSW are calling for priorities from our state candidates that are reasonable and realistic; focused on outcomes that will build our state’s economy while making it a better place to live.
Local Government NSW is calling on all state candidates to commit to:
· Save Recycling: Reinvest 100 per cent of the NSW Waste Levy ($727 million in one year alone!) collected to develop a smart new recycling industry, generating new jobs and better environmental outcomes, so we can manage our waste sustainably right here in NSW.
· Fund public libraries properly: We love our libraries! Double library funding by providing an additional $94 million over the next four years – and commit to providing 50 per cent of funding required for NSW public libraries, in perpetuity.
· Fund local infrastructure: Commit to a funding program that allows councils to keep pace with our booming population growth; delivering green space, and community infrastructure like pools, parks, and sporting facilities.
· Restore planning powers to communities: Give communities the capacity to make decisions about developments that affect them: let elected councils choose whether to use local planning panels, work with them to set housing targets, and fix the private certification system.
· End cost-shifting: Establish a public inquiry in order to stop state governments shifting costs onto local governments, which currently tally to more than $820 million each year in NSW.
· Allow greater financial independence: Allow councils to have more independence over their rates, in consultation with their communities. Forty years of having state governments control what NSW local governments can charge has crippled councils financially.
· Support disadvantaged communities: Provide untied, recurrent grants in identified disadvantaged, low socio-economic communities so councils can deliver much-needed local support and services.
· Address skills shortages in the sector: Fund an annual $10 million program to increase the number of cadets, apprentices, trainees and university graduates employed by councils, to combat current skills shortages for planners, engineers, building surveyors, tradespeople and others.
These issues impact directly upon all of us, and I’d urge you all to ask your local candidate what they will be supporting if elected, and consider these priorities when NSW goes to the polls on March 23.
Linda Scott is President, Local Government NSW.