After refusing requests to meet with mayors from COVID hotspots, New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, is again facing calls to sit down with local councils and discuss the devastating effects of the pandemic in their communities.
Following the refusal, Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) President, Linda Scott, said the Premier still refused to sit down to a collective online meeting with mayors from the 12 western and south western local government areas (LGAs) to discuss how both levels of government could support their communities.
“Since news of the Premier’s refusal I have received an outpouring of messages from mayors and councillors who are working day and night to help their communities through this time, expressing a feeling of being ignored by the New South Wales Government,” Cr Scott said.
“However, we have made some progress. In the past week mayors of the most impacted COVID LGAs and I have met with the Leader of the Opposition, the Ministers for Local Government, for Health, for Western Sydney, the New South Wales Chief Health Officer and others.
“All these people, along with agencies across the state and councils who are at the frontline of supporting local people through this battle, are working tirelessly in this challenging period.
“It is encouraging for our local government representatives to know they have the backing of the New South Wales Government, and it is an invaluable help to speak to those who are integral to our efforts to recovery.”
Cr Scott said the key voice missing in the partnership approach continued to be the Premier.
“I am grateful the Premier made these other ministers available to meet with our mayors,” Cr Scott said.
“But I do not understand why she has not taken the opportunity we’ve provided to personally meet with them and hear firsthand the serious impacts of current health orders.”
Cr Scott said she was hopeful the Premier would reconsider and take time to meet with the locally elected representatives of the 12 impacted LGAs in the near future.
“I am confident that if we build consensus, we can maximise the impact of our efforts to get our communities safely through this time and increase our chances of a faster economic recovery,” Cr Scott said.
“In fact, back in 2019 the Premier and I signed an Intergovernmental Agreement, and part of that agreement was a commitment from the State Government to consult with our sector and work with us to achieve positive outcomes for our communities.
“All levels of government, and representatives of every political persuasion, want the same thing: to keep people safe and emerge on the other side of lockdown as quickly as possible. The New South Wales Government should be working with local government to achieve that.”