Local government is today celebrating the proposed introduction of superannuation for mayors and councillors from 2022 as a major step forward.
Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said the peak body and its member councils had advocated fiercely for fair superannuation for mayors and councillors throughout her term in office.
“LGNSW has consistently argued that mayors and councillors should be entitled to receive superannuation, in line with every other Australian employee at work,” Cr Scott said.
“It is beyond satisfying that the NSW Government has finally recognised the need for elected councillors to have the same superannuation rights as other women and men in the workforce.
“For too long people considering running for elected office in local government have been unable to do so unless they were independently wealthy. This reform will enable more people to consider running to be a mayor or councillor, and this is a welcome step forward.
“I’m thrilled that LGNSW has been able to convince the Government of the merits of this argument and that the announcement comes ahead of the local government elections scheduled for later this year.
“Ensuring elected councillors receive fair superannuation will remove a very real disincentive to stand for elected office, especially for women.
“Research shows that, on average, women retire with 47% less superannuation than men, so introducing superannuation to local government will allow more women to consider running to be an elected leader.
“This is critically important at a time when only one-in-three elected representatives in NSW local governments are women.
“Modern councils are governance-style boards of significant influence, managing community assets of immense value for the public good.
“Introducing superannuation on these earnings is recognition of this commitment and will help encourage the broadest cross-section of the community to stand for office.”
Cr Scott said the superannuation announcement followed the introduction to State Parliament of Local Government Amendment (Rates) Bill today.
The proposed legislation will also assist councils to harmonise rates across multiple local government areas that had been merged by the NSW Government in 2016. Harmonisation will be phased in over four years to avoid rate shock.
Rate harmonisation across former councils means both residential and business rates from the old council areas are calculated fairly and consistently right across the new local government area.
“Allowing sufficient time for local governments to harmonise rates puts everyone on a level playing field, on an orderly path, and is a critical step in ensuring the merged councils are able to levy rates in the fairest and most transparent way possible,” Cr Scott said.
“The reforms are welcome, however, the journey of rate reform has a long way to go to ensure councils can start to deliver core infrastructure and services effectively beyond special State Budget project grants.
“Rate pegging is crippling councils and must be removed.
“According to the Government’s own NSW Productivity Commission, cumulative negative impacts of over 40 years of rate pegging include an estimated $15 billion in rate revenue forgone when compared to Victoria.
“We have called on government to end this antiquated method of determining rates, as well as a range of other reforms such as allowing councils to recover Emergency Services Levy independent of pegging.”