Today’s NSW Budget has supported local government’s Save Our Recycling campaign with a $96 million commitment to extend the Waste Less Recycle More program and finalise the long-term strategy for waste.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said the urgent need to educate communities was a key component of the Save Our Recycling campaign backed by NSW councils.
“Mayors and councillors welcome the fact that the NSW Government has listened to our advocacy to save recycling and will invest $96 million towards a better recycling system,” Cr Scott said.
“LGNSW will continue to call for the Government to reinvest the annual $800 million Waste Levy in four ways: council-developed regional waste management plans, revitalised infrastructure, increased procurement of recycled goods and a state-wide education campaign.
“The NSW Budget funding helps tackle one of those four requirements and is a welcome step forward as we face the rapidly-approaching bans on the export of recycling and waste overseas.
“Extending the Waste Less Recycle More program will help promote a circular economy, enabling NSW to create more reusable product, with the potential to create whole new industries and jobs along with it.”
Cr Scott urged the Government to take the next step, which required them to match Federal and industry funding to divert more than 10 million tonnes of waste from landfill and create 10,000 jobs Australia-wide.
“It’s disappointing that the State Government will not match Federal Government recycling funding in this Budget, but it is not too late to ensure NSW does not miss out,” she said.
Meanwhile, LGNSW welcomed $312 million in new funding for the Fixing Local Roads program, describing it as a big win for councils from today’s State Budget.
“This increase in funding is in line with LGNSW advocacy on behalf of councils, who bear responsibility for around 90 per cent of the State’s roads,” Cr Scott said.
“Today’s Budget announcement also includes additional money for road safety and black spot programs, targeting high risk roads with a regional focus, estimated to be worth an additional $647.9 million in 2020-21. This means improved safety, saved lives as well as council job retention and creation.
“LGNSW will continue to seek a commitment from the NSW Government to ensure councils have the first right of refusal to undertake these road works, supporting local procurement and local jobs.”
Cr Scott said the Budget showed the Government had provided a vote of confidence in the work of local governments, supporting council efforts to drive a locally led economic recovery following a disastrous year of drought, bushfires and COVID-19.
Other significant Budget announcements for councils and their communities included:
- Almost $710 million in walking and cycling infrastructure over the next four years.
- $104.5 million for upgrades to arts and cultural assets that will support existing and create new jobs in the creative sector.
- Almost $15 million over four years to create a digitally streamlined infrastructure contribution system that should make it easier for councils to manage developer contributions.
- Extension of COVID-19 relief funding for community and mobile preschools in 2021.
- $57 million to ensure COVID-19 safe council elections along with a commitment not to impose postal-only voting.
- $139 million in interest-free loans to replace flammable cladding on high-risk buildings in NSW; and
- $7.5 million for a drug detox and rehab centre in Dubbo.
“It is very pleasing to see the NSW Government listened to our calls for financial support for councils in these areas, and it’s a rewarding result for our advocacy efforts,” Cr Scott said.
“The NSW Government Budget funding does, however, fall short of what local governments and communities would have liked to have seen:
- COVID-19 relief funding extended to all early learning services rather than just preschools;
- The four-year $700 million allocation for social housing falls far short of what is so sorely needed;
- More funding for public transport, and other congestion busting measures in our cities;
- A NSW Government funded scheme matching the Victorian Government’s $600 million to directly support the replacement of flammable cladding; and
- A reinvestment of the $800m NSW Waste Levy into locally-led recycling support.
“Overall, councils congratulate the NSW Government for this Budget in the face of these economically trying times,” Cr Scott said.