The State Local Government Partnership Leadership Group Agreement held its second meeting on Thursday 29 November 2018 to discuss matters of topical interest and to progress its strategic agenda. The meeting was co-chaired by the Premier, Hon Mark McGowan and Hon David Templeman, Minister for Local Government and attended by the Hon. Rita Saffioti, Minister for Planning, Mr Reece Whitby, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Wyatt, President Lynn Craigie, Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA), Deputy President Tracey Roberts, WALGA, President Ian Cowie, Local Government Professionals WA (LGPWA), and executive staff.
The Premier and the Presidents of WALGA and LGPWA all spoke of the shared commitment and goodwill of both levels of Government to work across a broad range of issues important to West Australians.
Minster Templeman extended his warmest congratulations to Ricky Burges PSM, who will retire as WALGA Chief Executive Officer in February 2019. Minister Templeman acknowledged Ricky’s enduring commitment and achievements for the local government sector and WALGA.
The Leadership Group welcomed the established of the State/Local Government Working Group noting their recent meeting outcomes on 26 September 2018. The Group discussed ongoing improvements across the sectors in data collection, performance and reporting in response to increased community demands for greater transparency and access to information.
The Group discussed the current consultation process for the development of a new Local Government Act noting the success of the joint workshops with WALGA and LGPWA, and how suggested changes could strategically strengthen the capacity of the sector. To date 660 submissions have been received. Public consultation closes on 31 March 2019.
The Premier outlined the importance of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and advised that WA has signed up to be a member of the National Redress Scheme. The Scheme provides a simpler and streamlined alternative to pursuing civil litigation through the courts. Currently, Local Government is not part of the scheme but has the option in the future to opt in.
The importance of identifying the extent to which local government activities could have provided opportunities for child sexual abuse was discussed. WALGA and LGPWA advised consultation with the sector is underway. The Leadership Group agreed to continue working together to facilitate the best outcome for the community and government.
Minister Saffioti provided an update on the review of the planning system and aim to simplify the system to deliver efficient and smart growth. Strong support for reform was highlighted with 254 submissions received in response to the Green Paper, including 43 from local governments across WA.
Responses received indicate a clear appetite for changes to make the planning system more strategic, legible, transparent and efficient. Stakeholders also called for a more pro-active, outcomes focussed, timely and collaborative planning culture across all levels of government. Government is currently forming its view about the Green Paper reform proposals and the content of submissions.
A Government response to the Green Paper will be prepared which will set out a series of reform initiatives to be developed in collaboration with stakeholders.
Minister Saffioti outlined her ongoing commitment to improve scheme amendments, address backlogs and improve planning outcomes.
The Minister provided an overview of a new project to improve the land use definition of ‘community purpose’ to better clarify council and community expectations. The Leadership Group identified petrol fuel retailing as an area for initial investigation, noting over recent years, Local Governments have seen heightened community anxiety about the prospect of fuel retailing occurring in neighbourhood centres near homes, schools and child care centres.
WALGA and LGPWA welcomed this body of work and offered their support to the project which will establish a consistent State Government position to enable appropriate and consistent town planning decisions to be made on such applications.
The Government is preparing a set of whole of government targets to focus efforts on the issues of most importance to the community. Introducing whole of government targets was a key recommendation of the Service Priority Review (SPR) aimed at shifting the scales from a focus on policy development to a focus on implementation. The Leadership Group welcomed the initiative and agreed to work together to ensure alignment at the local level.
Local government representatives raised several other items for discussion including the role and function of local government in relation to economic development, collaboration across government, Modernising Work Health and Safety Act and the WALGA Submission to the 2018/19 State Budget.
The PLGC is next scheduled to meet on April 2019. Further information on the State Local Government Partnership Agreement is available on the DLGSC website.
Thursday 29 November, Parliament House.
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