LGSA praises Destination 2036

President of the Local Government Association, Keith Rhoades said Destination 2036, held in Dubbo, New South Wales this week, showed all NSW councils are in agreement about the big issues and changes required.

He said the Minister and the Division of Local Government (DLG) was also intent on rectifying and solving some of our biggest problems.

“Minister Page and the DLG had a hard task in organising and running Destination 2036, as the Local Government sector have been calling for change for a long time,” Cr Rhoades said.

“We were delighted with how the Minister and the DLG listened, and lead the participants though a number of workshops to get to positive and much needed outcomes and a roadmap for change,” he said.

He said he was particularly pleased to see at the close of Day One that all participants highlighted the need for a focus on financial viability for the long term success of the Local Government sector as their number one priority.

“We can see from the way the Minister, the DLG and the entire NSW Government have developed and then tackled this two day session that there will be change and reform in Local Government in NSW, much of which we have been calling on for the previous NSW Government to deliver for years,” Cr Rhoades said.

“The LGSA, representing the councils of NSW, have seats at the table that will deliver this change, and we are very encouraged by our inclusion on the Implementation Steering Committee (ISC) and the fast pace that has been set by Minister Page to deliver on the Action Plan from Destination 2036 in the coming months.”

Speaking at the conclusion of Destination 2036 in Dubbo today, Minister Page said he was pleased that the attendees – general managers and mayors of the 152 NSW councils – came to a consensus that changes to the local government sector were required, and knew that the NSW Government is committed to helping it achieve those changes.

“I was delighted with the attendance of the 350 representatives from every council in NSW and the constructive way in which they accepted that change was necessary and were dedicated to contributing to how that change will be achieved in future,” Mr Page said.

“The participants’ input into the future of local government was crucial – they were open and honest about the many varying challenges they face now, and those challenges they anticipate they will meet in the future.

“It is clear that if we do not seek to improve and modernise local government, then there will be communities that are `haves’ and `have-nots’, in terms of the number and quality of services delivered to ratepayers.

“There was a combined 6000 years of local government experience in one room – to have the benefit of their knowledge while reforming and modernising local government was important. I thank them all for their commitment and input.”

Among the key points determined by the conference participants that will be considered by the NSW Government and the Local Government and Shires Associations were; a need to clarify the key responsibilities, roles and functions of councils; a strong endorsement from councils to form or strengthen regional collaborative arrangements, and develop resource sharing partnerships.

Also considered was; an understanding among councils that a variety of models for local government are required, which would be applied to different circumstances in regional, remote, rural or metropolitan councils; a need to review the State’s legislative framework to ensure the local government sector will have necessary powers to confront future challenges facing communities; and a need for the NSW Government to improve and streamline the process by which voluntary council boundary alterations can be considered and accommodated.

Government News will also have a follow up news story on Monday on the views from inner-city Sydney councils about amalgamation.

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