NSW Premier refuses to meet collectively with mayors of 12 COVID-hit communities

The NSW Premier has refused to meet collectively with mayors in the 12 local government areas (LGAs) hardest hit by COVID-19 to discuss the devastating impacts of the State’s health orders on their communities.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott asked Premier Gladys Berejiklian on August 16 to meet with LGNSW and the affected community leaders, as well as the Minister for Health and the Police Commissioner, but this week the Premier declined to take the meeting.

“The Premier says she wants to hear the voices of local communities and is willing to meet with community leaders but has rejected this opportunity to meet collectively with the 12 mayors working night and day through the impacts of the current outbreak,” Cr Scott said.

“I’m surprised the Premier would reject such a golden opportunity to build consensus in facing down this very real threat to the well-being of our most vulnerable communities. These leaders are willing to set aside the time, but the Premier seems unwilling.

“The Premier’s rejection of our request actually breaches the commitment made in the Intergovernmental Agreement, which the Premier signed on behalf of State Government and I signed on behalf of local government in October 2019.

“In this agreement, the Premier promised to consult with LGNSW and our sector before any significant policy decisions were made and to work with us to achieve positive outcomes for our communities. But on this occasion it has not happened.”

Cr Scott rejected suggestions her public disappointment with the Premier’s response was politically motivated.

“The 12 affected local government areas have mayors and councillors of every political stripe, including Liberal, Labor and Independents,” she said.

“This is a bipartisan attempt to work better together for NSW communities that need our support. There’s never been a more crucial time for all elected leaders to put aside any political differences and work together.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW would continue to push for the collective meeting on behalf of the mayors in affected communities.

“I am continuing to call on the Premier to honour her Government’s commitment to work with us as equals and meet these 12 mayors and councillors who are working so hard to support our communities and are feeling ignored,” she said.

“Mayors and councillors are continuing to provide effective and meaningful leadership to support our communities through droughts, floods, bushfires and COVID. They are on the frontlines of this battle, getting calls from anxious community members on a daily basis.

“The NSW Government should be working with us to lead our communities out of these dark times rather than ignoring something as simple and potentially beneficial as a collective, sit-down online discussion.

“I hope the Premier reconsiders and accepts our offer soon.”

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