NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, have promised to meet with local government area mayors in NSW, after previously declining to meet with the 12 mayors from hotspot LGAs – which led to copius public criticism.
The Deputy Premier will meet with regional mayors and community leaders this week (17 September following calls by Local Government NSW (LGNSW) to take a joint approach in the state’s COVID fightback.
The Deputy Premier is expected to be joined by Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW) Secretary, Gary Barnes, and DRNSW Deputy Secretary, Fiona Dewar, in the meeting.
Premier Berejiklian has also promised this week (17 September) to meet with mayors in the hardest hit COVID-impacted communities.
LGNSW President, Linda Scott, said the meeting had been organised to discuss how best to boost regional vaccination rollouts, testing facilities, sewer testing and pathways out of lockdown.
Cr Scott welcomed the Premier’s change of heart, which follows an initial rejection of calls to meet with the peak body and the mayors of 12 LGAs of concern in western and south western Sydney.
“Many of these mayors tell us they have been ignored by the State Government, despite their work on the frontlines to support their communities through the COVID crisis,” Cr Scott said.
“Following our advocacy efforts, the Premier reached out to organise a series of meetings to discuss the most effective ways to jointly support the two million-plus residents these mayors represent.
“I thank the Deputy Premier for accepting our invitation to a meeting with regional and rural mayors and general managers.”
Cr Scott says that the meetings are an important demonstration of the need to work collaboratively with all tiers of government, in the best interest of their shared communities.
“Regional leaders want the same thing as the State Government: to keep our communities safe and to drive a locally led recovery from the economic crisis created by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns.”
Cr Scott added that it is pleasing to see the Premier acknowledge the critical role being played by local government, and their collaborative approach to the crisis.
“I have every confidence these discussions involving both the Premier and Deputy Premier will help the push to get communities vaccinated and NSW out of lockdown,” Cr SCott said.