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Local government reform

To have a strong future NSW needs strong councils that provide the high quality services and infrastructure communities deserve.

The NSW Government is committed to building on the strengths of local government and improving the performance and financial sustainability of councils so they can serve their communities better.

The local government sector is a critical part of the NSW economy, employing nearly 50,000 people and spending more than $11 billion annually in providing infrastructure and services to people across the State.

Since 2011 the Office of Local Government has allocated more than $1.1 billion to NSW councils including funding from the Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme, Stronger Communities Fund, Companion Animal Fund and Innovation Fund. This figure excludes Federal Government Financial Assistance Grants.

A significant amount of work has been undertaken in recent years to review and improve the local government sector.

As part of this process, the NSW Government has:

  • Created 20 new stronger councils that have collectively achieved savings of more than $50 million which is being reinvested back into the community
  • Provided up to $15 million for each new council to kick-start delivery of community infrastructure and services
  • Allocated up to $10 million to each new council towards the upfront costs of merging
  • Expanded access to the NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp) borrowing facility, securing low interest loans for councils that met key financial benchmarks to fund new and upgraded infrastructure      
  • Introduced new powers to intervene in financially unsustainable councils, including the power to appoint a financial controller, to ensure councils are living within their means and investing more into community infrastructure and services
  • Invested in innovation in rural and regional councils through the $4 million Innovation Fund
  • Introduced a range of integrity measures to ensure communities can have faith in the people who represent them including requiring candidates to disclose if they are a property developer, banning people from public office if they have been convicted of certain offences, and forcing councillors to hand over any financial benefit derived from a pecuniary interest
  • Developed a new Model Code of Conduct and Model Code of Meeting Practice as well as guidelines for professional development and induction programs for councillors
  • Established an innovative joint organisations network which will transform the way the State Government and local councils collaborate, plan, set priorities and deliver important projects in regional NSW
  • Provided $3.3 million to establish new Joint Organisations with plans for further investment to boost regional economies and communities.
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