A principal function of NSROC is to develop regional policies to address regional issues. Policies are usually developed by groups of council staff working closely with the NSROC secretariat and then formally adopted by the NSROC Board. These policies take the form of strategies, submissions, protocols and action plans and are then used to guide and inform decision making by local government in the region, and also to provide information, raise issues and influence decisions of the state and federal government. NSROC’s most recent policy statements and submissions can be found below.

NSROC Asset Management Guidelines

The Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC) region consists of seven councils with major investment in infrastructure assets. There is significant imperative to ensure that the region is effectively managing their vast networks of assets in order to provide the necessary services to the community.

The development of an asset management framework was an important step to ensure uniformity in specific asset practices undertaken by Councils across the four main asset classes – roads, drainage, buildings and parks.

NSROC Sub Regional Planning Strategy

The NSROC Sub Regional Planning Strategy sets out housing, employment and infrastructure targets for the Northern Sydney region until 2031. The Strategy has been developed by the seven member councils of NSROC as a response to the State Government’s Metropolitan Strategy process. The Strategy also contains planning policies for the region and a set of key infrastructure requirements which would enable the anticipated population growth to occur in a sustainable manner.

The New Directions for Local Government Position Paper

NSROC recognises local government in New South Wales is under significant pressure due to a combination of legislative, funding and operational factors which have been well documented in the recent independent inquiry into the financial sustainability of NSW Local Government titled ‘Are Councils Sustainable’ (May 2006).

While much of the introductory information in the position paper is common sense and beyond dispute there are some specific statements and themes which are strongly disputed by NSROC and which set up erroneous first principles which are then further developed in the body of the paper. Specifically the NSROC Councils do not agree with the broad statements regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of local government, community views about local government and what is identified as “sufficient resources”.

The statement that sustainable reform can only come from “new business models, enhancing community engagement and quality service delivery” is simplistic and leaves out the key element of insufficient resourcing. Whilst the principles of the new direction are accepted, and there can always be room for improved efficiency, the fact remains that local government in NSW is under-resourced for the work it has to do.

Planning a Sustainable Future Options Paper

The NSROC Councils accept the basic principal that a review of the strategic planning and reporting function of local government is timely and appropriate. whilst broad support for the notion of reviewing and potentially amending this function exists, the NSROC Councils do not perceive that such a review will address the fundamental challenges which face local government (a lack of adequate resourcing, cost-shifting, and increased regulation by state government).

NSROC Regional Tree Management Policy

Trees are a vital component of the green infrastructure of our cities. They provide a crucial ecological, environmental and amenity resource in the urban environment. It is of fundamental importance to urban society that this natural asset is protected, nurtured and enhanced in order to make our cities sustainable and pleasant places in which to live – both now and for future generations. This goal will require a mix of visionary and realistic management strategies, supported by genuine and demonstrated commitment by the community and all tiers of government.

Cost Shifting in Local Government

In 2002 the Federal Government launched an Inquiry into the issue of Cost Shifting in Local Government. The issue relates to the notion that Federal and State Governments are increasingly inclined to create new tasks or demands on Local Government without supplying adequate funding or any funding to enable these tasks to be completed. The NSROC submission identifies the problems this scenario creates, details the efficiencies that have already be created in Local Government, and notes the struggle Local Government faces in meeting rising community expectations and delivering new services and outcomes while under the constraint of rate-pegging.

2001/2002 Bushfires

Following the severe bushfires in New South Wales over 2001/02 the State Government of NSW initiated a Joint Select Committee to propose changes to the bushfire legislation and procedures. The NSROC submission identifies a number or issues relating to resourcing, firebreaks, water capacity and insurance.

Plan First

In 2002 the State Government of New South Wales began a process of planning reform called Plan First. The idea behind the drive for reform was to make the planning process simpler, faster, cheaper and more transparent. A central tenant of the Plan First model was the development of Regional Plans which would be created and implemented by Regional Forums.

While NSROC is strongly supportive of planning reform, this submission raises concerns regarding resourcing, implementation and stakeholder representation. It should be noted that the Plan First model has now been replaced with the development of the Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney. More information on the development of this Strategy can be found at www.metrostrategy.nsw.gov.au.

NSROC Submission on the State Government’s City of Cities Metropolitan Strategy

NSROC strongly supports the preparation of a Metropolitan Strategy. The success of the Strategy and its implementation depends on the State Government adopting a new partnership role with local Councils.

NSROC proposes 6 Priorities for action under the Metropolitan Strategy in so far as it will direct the future planning and growth of the Northern Region. The 7 Priorities recognise the interdependence of the regions within the Greater Metropolitan Area and the Priorities necessarily include cross-regional initiative.

NSROC Submission to the Section 94 Taskforce 2004

This submission was completed in early 2004 and represents NSROC’s response on the New South Wales government’s review of developer contributions for the provision of public infrastructure. The submission responds to the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources’ (DIPNR) report on the issue in 2000; provides information to the Task Force on improvements to the system; addresses issues raised in workshops with DIPNR in 2003 and addresses issues arising from the current Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Planning Agreements) Bill 2003. The submission focuses on 18 areas of concern and highlights the preferred position of NSROC on each of them.

Parramatta Rail Link – 2000

This short statement of policy relates to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released in 2000 regarding the proposed Parramatta to Chatswood railway link. While the NSROC councils are supportive of the rail link as outlined in the EIS, the submission makes a number of specific recommendations about traffic management, the consultation process, environmental concerns, planning integration and funding.

L&E Court Review

The Land and Environment Court plays a major role in the determination of planning outcomes in the NSROC region. The Court is the final arbiter when development applications are refused or when an applicant believes consent conditions are unduly onerous. The state government undertook a review of the Land and Environment Court’s role in the planning process in 2002 and this submission outlines NSROC’s concerns regarding State Environmental Planning Policy Number 1, the cost of arbitration, amendment of plans and application of the ‘merit principle’.

Street Lighting

IPART recently received a proposal from Energy Australia to increase public lighting charges. The Tribunal is currently considering EnergyAustralia’s proposals, which involve an average price increase of approximately 28 per cent (in nominal terms) for 2005, and:

  • A further 15 percent on 1 July 2005
  • A further 8 per cent on 1 July 2006
  • A further 7 per cent on 1 July 2007

The total compound increase is for 67 per cent plus CPI over the next 30 months. NSROC has joined Councils across the metropolitan region in expressing concern over this unjustified and prohibitive price increase.