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By Jane Garcia in Sydney

NSW Local Government Minister Paul Lynch has expressed his desire not have a ‘schoolmaster’ relationship with the state’s councils but work together to “develop solutions to our joint challenges so local government is indeed helping to drive NSW forward”

Speaking at the Shires Association annual conference in Sydney on Tuesday (June 5), Mr Lynch said he particularly looked forward to robust debate about the future of local government and was confident councils shared his wish for a strong, sustainable local government system.

The former Liverpool City councillor said he had “the strongest regard for the professional competence of local government in NSW and I will do all I can to support it”.

“Some ministers for local government in some jurisdictions don’t seem to like local government very much – I do,” Mr Lynch said.
“The overwhelming majority of local councils are a prime source of ‘good news stories’; in a sense, the challenges for the minister and for the media is to keep remembering that. “With 152 councils and a plethora of councillors, statistically someone has to be doing the wrong thing at some stage, as is the case with any other group of people of that number and that diversity. The challenge for the minister is to make sure the press remember the good news stories and the positive things that are a part of the local government sector.”

The Local Government Minister announced that the State Government will approach the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW (LGSA) to help develop a professional development program for councillors from 2008.
He said his department, the LGSA and the Local Government Managers Association will create a series of one-day sessions with experts providing information and guidance on a range of topics from planning and meetings to codes of conduct and policy development.

Mr Lynch was encouraged to see the enthusiasm of the local sector in responding to two recent papers – A New Direction for Local Government and Asset Management Planning for NSW. (See www.dlg.nsw.gov.au)

He said in a statement that “the asset management paper:
• explores the development of a new asset management framework for NSW;
• promotes a planning process to assist councils manage community assets; and
• considers current practices in NSW and other jurisdictions.”

Submissions on Asset Management Planning for NSW are due by July 13, 2007 and can be emailed to assetplanning@dlg.nsw.gov.au

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