LGNSW welcomes certainty of council elections postponement

The NSW Government has introduced an emergency Bill to Parliament this week comprising a broad range of amendments to existing laws to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Attorney General Mark Speakman said the Government is acting swiftly to ensure we are as prepared as possible to respond to the evolving threat of coronavirus, while reducing the risk of further transmission in the community. “Our number one priority is the health and safety of the people of NSW,” Mr Speakman said. “These necessary changes will mean that essential public amenities can continue to operate effectively while maintaining the wellbeing of our frontline workers and the broader public.” "In response to panic buying and stockpiling, an amendment to the Retail Trading Act will allow supermarkets to stock their shelves and trade throughout the Easter long weekend and ANZAC Day this year, ensuring food and other essential items are available at standard retail prices. "When combined with the decision to lift the supermarket delivery curfew, customers should have greater confidence that essential goods will be available from well-known, trusted suppliers. The Bill will also protect staff from being compelled to work on these additional days; it will be their choice to work and earn additional income, or to enjoy the holidays." The Local Government Act has been amended to allow councils to hold official meetings electronically, rather than physically. The Act was also amended to give the Minister for Local Government the power to postpone the September council elections for 12 months, with a possible further extension to 31 December 2021. Locally these measures will be implemented prior to Eurobodalla Council’s next meeting on 7 April. Eurobodalla Council meetings have been moved from fortnightly to monthly until July.

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Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed the decision by the NSW Government to postpone the state’s council elections until September 2021 because it provided certainty to Australian communities during these extraordinary times. LGNSW President Linda Scott was grateful the Government had acted swiftly because there had never been a more important time for visionary local leadership that provided hope and guidance for each part of NSW. “In light of the Minister’s decision to delay local elections because of the COVID-19 crisis, I know all elected councillors will continue to work across political boundaries to pull together for the public good,” Cr Scott said. “Mayors and councillors are working hard to ensure good governance continues during the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so. “When asked to serve for an additional year, I’m confident mayors and councillors will understand the need to provide stability and continuity of governance.” Cr Scott said a small number of elected leaders may need to stand down and LGNSW would work with councils to support them during any necessary periods of transitions. “Councils are the closest level of government to the community, and we are only too aware of the need to keep our communities safe and healthy,” Cr Scott said. “It is democracy that makes Australia the country it is, and while we should always be cautious about any action that has the potential to weaken that democracy or diminish the right of the community to have a say in their own lives, this change by the NSW Government is welcome at this time.”

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