Tuesday, 30 April 2019 14:33

President’s message: Federal election 2019

WSROC President, Cr Barry Calvert WSROC President, Cr Barry Calvert

Over the last few months, in the lead up to the federal election, our members have identified the following regional issues which they believe could be best addressed by WSROC advocacy.

Roads to Recovery Program
WSROC welcomes the Federal Budget’s $1.1 billion boost to Roads to Recovery (R2R) Funding over the next 10 years. However, NSW’s steadily growing local road maintenance backlog shows that R2R base level funding is inadequate and continues to put community safety at risk.

With 80 per cent of the road network managed by local councils, there is an urgent need for a more sustainable funding model for roads. A recent NRMA report indicates that Greater Western Sydney’s growing road maintenance backlog increased by 34 per cent from the previous year – amounting to $293.5 million. This is a critical funding shortfall that must be addressed.

Councils need support to ensure that our local communities have access to a road network that is realistically funded, with a forward-facing view that encapsulates growth projections, addresses the backlog, and works to reduce the risk of accidents. With the Federal Budget due to return to surplus in 2019, now is the time to ensure the Roads to Recovery program and road safety are a primary concern for the elected government.

 

Energy
Western Sydney councils and WSROC continue to work toward the key goal of sustainable, reliable and affordable energy for the region. Recent projects under the award -winning Light Years Ahead energy program include a residential street light replacement program, and a solar program which is currently installing 500Kw solar in the Hawkesbury LGA. Further initiatives are currently being scoped.

We share our community’s concern about rising electricity costs. Western Sydney residents use 100 per cent more energy for cooling than other areas of Sydney due to the region’s hot climate. This puts upward pressure on household energy bills, electricity infrastructure, and exacerbates urban heat islands as air-conditioners pump hot air into Western Sydney streets.

Toward the federal election, WSROC continues to urge for action to extend energy, emissions and cost saving interventions, as well as regional energy infrastructure which can adequately support emerging technologies and opportunities.

Relief in the form of affordable energy, cool community facilities and passive heating and cooling design strategies are now a matter of urgency for policy makers.


Waste
Waste management is essential to a well-functioning city and should be considered as a critical service - like water and transport. Western Sydney carries the burden of being the final point of disposal for most of Sydney’s waste, yet over the past five years, the councils of Greater Western Sydney received a return of just eight per cent of the waste levy paid out to the NSW Government.

There is currently a projected shortfall of over 1.4 million tonnes of waste processing capacity (equivalent of approximately 14 facilities) across Sydney by 2021. There are no new putrescible waste facilities planned for Western Sydney at present and existing landfills have limited lifespans. The number of suitable sites for new waste infrastructure is both limited and rapidly declining due to residential encroachment.

The significant population growth projected for Western Sydney needs to be considered in the context of a growing waste problem. Planned infrastructure will be vital in mitigating adverse impacts to current and future communities, as well as ensuring councils can meet state resource recovery targets.

WSROC has called for more of the NSW Government Waste Levy to be returned to Greater Western Sydney, to enable local government to respond to these challenges and play a more strategic role in managing the region's waste. However, there is a need for national leadership in recognising waste as an essential service, and to set a national direction on the management of waste across Australia. This requires a coordinated approach, across all levels of government, ensuring adequate resourcing with a vision for waste management to progress towards a circular economy.

 

Last modified on Friday, 03 May 2019 11:01