Saffin hosts NSW Shadow Minister for Local Government in Lismore, Kyogle
LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin today (Tuesday, January 21) hosts NSW Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren MP for roundtable discussions with Lismore City and Kyogle councils.
Ms Saffin said Mr Warren, who is also NSW Shadow Minister for Veterans, is keen to hear from both councils how the recovery process is going following bushfires which impacted on the Nimbin area and on Woodenbong and Bonalbo late last year.
Mr Warren said: “As Shadow Minister for Local Government, it is important that I talk to and visit as many councils as possible so I can gain a greater understanding of the situation they are dealing with.
“The devastation suffered in parts of the North Coast is absolutely heartbreaking,” Mr Warren said.
“But it is inspiring to see how much communities throughout our state – like here – have rallied together to support each other.”
Ms Saffin said Mr Warren’s listening tour of the Northern Rivers – which yesterday (Monday, January 20) involved meetings with Tweed Shire, Byron Shire and Ballina Shire councils – would cover any issues of concern to local government, including roads.
Ms Saffin said the four councils in her electorate – Lismore City, Kyogle, Tweed Shire and Tenterfield Shire – crave more detail on how the NSW Government will take back financial responsibility for the maintenance of up to 15,000 kilometres of regional roads.
“This is why I again wrote to NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole last October, asking when his independent expert panel would be appointed and how councils will have to justify priority roads under new arrangements,” Ms Saffin said.
“Where council outdoor gangs currently undertake that maintenance on the ground, it of course would be beneficial for Transport for NSW to contract such work back to the respective councils to safeguard local jobs and keep local economies strong.
“All councils are seeking assurances from the NSW Government that there will be an ongoing commitment to funding for the maintenance and upkeep of these roads once they are transferred back to the State.”
Minister Toole on January 13 this year wrote to thank Ms Saffin for supplying him with the four councils’ specific nominations for regional road transfer, as part of ‘a full review of road classifications announced under the Future Transport 2056 Strategy’.
“This is a complex process and a transition of this scale will take time to complete,” Mr Toole advised.
“The policy framework, guiding principles and process for the transfer and review are currently being developed.
“The process will be overseen by an independent expert panel, to be announced shortly.
“…The NSW Government recognises the importance of road maintenance work to councils and their workforce, and will be asking the independent panel to consider this as part of its work.”
Ms Saffin has arranged for Mr Warren to meet with Lismore RSL Sub-Branch Vice President Darryl Hawke and Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Far North Coast (NSW) Sub-Branch Incorporated President Sheldon Maher OAM.