MINISTER ‘AGAINST’ LOCAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD APOLOGISE

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has called on State Government frontbencher Ron Hoenig, who he’s dubbed the “Minister against Local Government”, to apologise to the region’s local councils after the Minister’s bizarre rant attacking the sector in Parliamentary Question Time yesterday.

“In my almost 20 years in local government and now state Parliament, I have never seen anything as unhinged and extraordinary as the Minister’s unprompted assault on the sector he is sworn to fight and advocate for around the cabinet table,” Mr Marshall said.

“He is supposed to be the Minister ‘for’ Local Government, but after yesterday I think he’ll be considered by many as the Minister ‘against’ Local Government.

“His attack was as ill-informed as it was appalling, blaming local councils for their struggles to cope with the sudden and dramatically increased Emergency Services Levy Contribution charges.

“The Minister knows full well that the levy has been completely subsided by the government for the last three years and that councils were only given notice of the abandonment of this practice and the massive double-digit increases that came with it at the eleventh hour of their budget deliberations.

“The Minister should be ashamed of his blatant cheap shots yesterday in the House and should apologise for his remarks.”

Mr Marshall said the Chair of the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), Carmel Donnelly, let the cat out of the bag and exposed the Minister’s remarks as hollow and disingenuous at last Friday’s meeting of the NSW Country Mayor’s Association when she indicated the government’s announcement of the increased ESL levy and not continuing to subsidise the cost for local government, caught the IPART unaware, as it set next year’s rate peg cap assuming the ESL would not be imposed on councils.

“Ms Donnelly made two things quite clear to the Mayors – first, IPART was not aware the government intended to re-impose the ESL on councils, with a dramatic increase and two, IPART’s 2023-24 rate peg cap figure was determined assuming there would be no ESL imposition on councils finances next year,” Mr Marshall said.

“This makes a complete mockery of what Minister Hoenig had to say yesterday in the Parliament and vindicates our local councils’ claims for assistance from the government.

“Instead of spurning and ridiculing our councils, the Minister should be requesting the IPART, at a minimum, to make a supplementary rate-peg calculation, considering the ESL impact on council’s bottom line next financial year.

“If he was genuinely interested in being the Minister ‘for’ Local Government, he would do what he could to help our councils, not simply wash his hands of the problem and attack the councils for raising legitimate concerns with him.”

“He must apologise to the local government sector.”

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