Council Calls For Equity For Regional Councils

Gunnedah Shire Council

Gunnedah Shire Council is calling on the NSW Government to recognise the critical need for further funding for regional, rural and remote areas in this year’s State Budget.

Council this week endorsed a Mayoral Minute put forward by Mayor Jamie Chaffey to call on the government to allocate funding in the budget (which is due to be handed down in June) to six priority areas.

“We desperately need more funding for health, including delivery of the shortfall in funding for the Gunnedah Hospital Redevelopment Master Plan,” Cr Chaffey said.

“This is not a wish list item, it is an absolute must for our community.

“We are also seeking a commitment to increase spending on the NSW Police Force to increase front-line policing numbers in rural, regional and remote communities most at need, and to allow 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operations for Gunnedah’s police station.

“Further to this, we need the government to support regional growth and to ensure our share of essential funding is not forgotten. In the past, these programs have been available to us – the Stronger Country Communities Fund, Resources for Regions, Regional Events Acceleration Fund, Regional Tourism Activation Fund, Regional Sports Infrastructure, Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism, Regional Cultural Fund, Growing Local Economies and Regional Job Creation Fund.

“They have now been replaced by just two funds, the Regional Development Trust Fund and the Working Regions Fund.

“We also need funding to address housing shortages, skills shortages, and road and transport, where the government needs to deliver the Fixing Country Pinch Points Program.

“Regional areas are where the food, the fibre, minerals and energy for the entire state come from, yet we are being treated as second-class citizens.

“It’s time for true recognition of what is needed to equity between the regions and the metropolitan areas of our state.”

Councillors also endorsed a Mayoral Minute to write to the Premier, the NSW Treasurer and the NSW Minister for Local Government seeking that they urgently address costs identified through Local Government NSW’s (LGNSW) report: Cost shifting 2023: How State Costs Eat Council Rates.

Cr Chaffey said research commissioned by LGNSW showed the increase in cost shifting had been accelerated by NSW Government policies.

“The report shows $1.36 billion has been passed on to councils to fund in the 2021-22 financial year – that’s an increase of $540 million over the last report from the 2017-18 year,” he said.

“That represents an average extra $460.67 for every ratepayer across NSW. In Gunnedah Shire, which is classified as a large rural council, that figure is more like $490 per ratepayer.

“It’s just not fair or sustainable to expect local government to carry this ever-increasing shortfall while our own costs increase.

“It means our communities get less or go without. They go without better roads, they go without better parks, they go without important community services that only councils provide, and they and their ratepayers are effectively paying hidden taxes to other levels of government.”

You can read Local Government NSW’s (LGNSW) report: Cost shifting 2023: How State Costs Eat Council Rates here.

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