It was great to be back in my old stomping ground representing Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock  at the Local Government NSW ‘Working together for a better NSW’ event along with my good friend Environment Minister Matt Kean.

While our communities have faced a range of challenges – from drought, to floods, to bushfires and COVID-19 – there has been one constant – State and local governments working closely together to support our communities.

This strong collaboration and engagement between the two tiers of government has never been so important as we continue to recover from the social and economic impacts of these crises.

Social and economic recovery and community resilience requires a strong and mutually beneficial partnership between our levels of government.

During these crises, we have worked together and listened and acted on each other’s needs, wants and aspirations.

The recent flooding is another example of our two levels of government working together to ensure immediate and critical support on the ground in affected communities and funding and other support to start the long road to recovery.

The Local Government Emergency Recovery Support Group has co-ordinated council-to-council assistance not only during the recent floods but throughout the 2019-20 bushfire crisis.

During the bushfires, we engaged charity organisation GIVIT on behalf of all NSW councils, ensuring goods and services reached people who needed them most and reducing the workload of frontline personnel in affected areas. This partnership is again helping to meet the needs of those affected by the recent floods.

Following the bushfires, the Government provided $5.2 million in council rates relief for those who lost their houses, businesses and farms, and picked up the tab for clearing destroyed properties.

As COVID-19 took its stranglehold on the world, the Government was again quick to assist councils and communities to respond to the immediate social and economic impacts, with our nation-leading $395 million COVID-19 local government economic stimulus package to safeguard council jobs, local services and infrastructure.

The Government is also helping local councils restore vibrancy to our high streets and villages, with the pandemic exposing just how vital public spaces are to our local communities and economies.

The $15 million Your High Street grants program will fund council projects including space for dining outdoors, wider footpaths, tree planting, traffic calming, lighting, and public art to invigorate high streets and boost local economies.

It builds on the huge success of the $15 million Streets as Shared Spaces program, which is now supporting demonstration and pilot projects across NSW including cycleways, pop-up parklets and improved lighting.

Of course, these initiatives are just a small part of the Government’s overall health, economic and social response to the recent crises.

There’s much to be proud of in the local government space and the initiatives I have cited today are a direct consequence of our strong working relationship and us listening and acting to meet the needs of our communities.
I sincerely thank you and your councils for the tremendous dedication and commitment you have shown in serving your communities in these very difficult times.

There’s still a lot of work to do, and many challenges ahead.And the Government will continue to stand side by side with your councils and communities as we continue the long road to recovery.