NSW councils welcome Productivity Commission report as part of their efforts to drive locally led recovery

NSW’s peak body for councils says the Government’s proposed blueprint for productivity growth and economic recovery released this week aligns with local governments’ efforts to drive a locally led recovery, including improvements to local infrastructure and addressing skills shortages.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott welcomed the Productivity Commission White Paper 2021 Rebooting the economy white paper and said the local government sector was driving jobs creation and economic development across NSW.

“The Productivity Commission Report backs a suit of long-standing advocacy from local governments to create quality jobs and improve NSW’s economy,” Cr Scott said.

“Councils have proven over the past 12 months of disasters and beyond that we are best placed to provide a locally led economic recovery that results in real jobs growth and lasting community improvements.

“Councils welcome that the Productivity Commission and the NSW Government share our vision to improving the State’s long-term productivity and drive economic growth.

“I am pleased that the Productivity Commission’s calls to develop a cohesive long-term plan for water security and improvements to infrastructure, something we have also been advocating for on behalf of councils and their communities for many years.

“The Productivity Commission has listened to local governments, proposing changes to education, training and trade qualifications that will help address a growing skill shortage.

“Councils are especially pleased to see this Report endorse changes to the economically stifling rate pegging system and recommend that councils’ general income should increase with increasing population growth, allowing councils to meet the needs of our larger populations.”

However, Cr Scott sounded a note of caution over proposed changes to the planning system that would potentially deliver big gains to developers by lifting regulations and increasing ‘flexibility’, while eroding the public good by reducing council controls and community say in the decision-making process.

“Unfortunately, the Productively Commission report falls into old rhetoric around planning and housing issues that unfairly lays the blame at the feet of councils,” she said.

“No one is more concerned about the impacts of the housing shortage our State is experiencing than NSW councils; councils are working hard to deliver more affordable housing and advocate to the State Government to do the same.

“The planning system does not deliver housing – markets do. The housing market and its cycles are what determines actual housing delivery.

“Across NSW, councils have plenty of land already zoned for housing, but councils cannot control the decisions of developers and landowners to build and release homes for sale. As a result, housing supply is constrained in many parts of NSW.

“Removing planning controls from councils undermines public confidence in the planning system good planning processes and high-quality design outcomes.

“Widespread removal of regulations and a broadening of what is permissible in different land use zones, without council regulation, will lead to a loss of public confidence in the NSW planning system.”

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