Category Archives: Campaign

Council calls for stronger tenants’ rights

Post by Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore, Co-Chair of the Marrickville Council Affordable Housing Committee

I was proud earlier this month that Marrickville Council endorsed a detailed submission to the Residential Tenancies Act review, an important review of NSW’s key rental laws, developed through the Affordable Housing Committee.

The submission calls for a shakeup of current tenancy laws, to provide stronger rights and legal protection for tenants, including those living in share housing.

Read a copy of the submission HERE.

Council’s submission details the stark reality of the housing unaffordability crisis in the inner city and inner west, with an increasing number of people living in rental accommodation for the long term, rents continuing to rise much faster than CPI, and less than 1% of rental properties now considered ‘affordable’.

Council’s submission calls for an end to “no grounds” evictions – which would ensure that renters have a stronger right to stay in their homes, and there must be a valid reason for them to be evicted.

The current laws are not only unfair, but help drive up rental prices, because a landlord who wants to massively drive up the rent in one hit can simply kick out a tenant who doesn’t agree, and re-advertise at the higher rent.

For more information about the Greens work on housing affordability please see the campaign page.

Local firefighter Jim Casey Grayndler candidate 2016

Local Firefighter Jim Casey wins Greens preselection for Granydler, flags a strong community campaign on saving the climate, housing affordability, and stopping Westconnex.

Career firefighter Jim Casey has been preselected to contest the electorate of Grayndler for the Greens at the federal election next year.

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale has thrown his support behind Casey. “Jim has served proudly as a firefighter since 2001, and has stood up for the rights of his co-workers in his role with the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union”, he said.

Casey, 45 has lived in inner Sydney for the last quarter century and is currently the State Secretary of the NSW FBEU. He lives with his partner and their two young children.

Commenting on the preselection outcome, Casey said he was honoured to be the Greens candidate and determined to put tremendous energy into winning the seat.

“As a firefighter I have seen with my own eyes increased extreme weather behaviour brought about by climate change.  We need action now.

“Sydney is a beautiful, diverse, and vibrant place. But it is at risk of becoming unliveable. We need to take on the challenge of housing affordability, of decent public infrastructure, and sustainable development if we want our city to remain a place for all.”

Di Natale adds, “Jim represents Greens values in action, and he would make a wonderful representative for the people of Grayndler.”

Further information: Jim Casey 0420 828 502 (Candidate), Django Merope Synge 0420 365 887 (Greens NSW)

1 December 2015

GREENS CALL ON COUNCIL TO STAY STRONG ON MERGERS

Wed 11 November 2015

Marrickville Greens Councillors called on Inner West mayors to respect the resolutions of their Councils and continue to stand up against forced amalgamations, after the Councils adopted near identical resolutions that claim to resist amalgamations and to submit merger options under protest – with a view to them only being implemented if the Baird Government forces the issue.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “It’s clear that the vast majority of residents in the Inner West want their Council to stand alone and not merge and that’s the position that Marrickville Council took last night.”

The Greens voted against submitting a ‘Plan B’ merger for a Marrickville-Ashfield-Leichhardt Council, as the Greens believe that Councils should not be merged without a vote of affected residents.

Clr Ellsmore said, “The Greens are concerned that the Labor Mayors for Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield have given the Minister for Local Government, Paul Toole, the impression that our Councils wish to merge, when the resolutions adopted by all three Councils last night explicitly opposed any voluntary amalgamation.

“Local Councils belong to their residents, not Premier Mike Baird. The community should decide on any merger.

“The Liberal Government would like nothing more than to abolish progressive inner city Councils like Marrickville and Leichhardt. It is these Councils that have stood up to WestConnex and will look out for the communities’ interest as the State Government pushes for open slather for development in significant ‘growth corridors’ through the Inner West.

“It is deeply disappointing that Labor Councillors have backed a Plan B merger option and are actively promoting it in the media.

“Only last month they were making strong public statements they would stand up and fight for their Councils. What has changed?

“The Liberal Government does not have the power to sack financially sound and successful Councils like Marrickville, and they have created bogus size and scale criteria to create an excuse to merge Councils. The Greens will continue to fight against forced amalgamations and the right of communities to determine the future of their Councils,” Clr Ellsmore said.

The Greens were successful in amending the motion to conduct a community consultation on the proposed plan B merger with Leichhardt and Ashfield Councils. A copy of the motion passed is below.

More information:    Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

The formal statement from Marrickville Council outlining Council’s position can be found here: http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/newsandnotices/mediareleases/ashfield-leichhardt-and-marrickville-to-submit-joint-merger-preference/.

The Greens encourage residents to make their voices heard by:

For more information see the Save Marrickville Council campaign page.

Motion passed

10 Nov 2015: C1115 Item 1 MAYORAL MINUTE: COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO IPART ASSESSMENT AND THE NSW STATE GOVERNMENT’S ULTIMATUM TO COUNCILS

 

THAT: 

  1. Council reinforce to its community, staff and the NSW State Government that its preferred option is to stand alone and is fundamentally opposed to forced amalgamations;

 

  1. Given the legal predicament we now find ourselves in and the ultimatum issued by the NSW State Government, submit a first merger preference for Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield Council and a second merger preference for Marrickville and City of Sydney Council by 18 November 2015;

 

  1. Council signal strongly to the State Government that it will:
    1. immediately withdraw its merger preferences if the State Government does not proceed with forced amalgamations;
    2. not support an Inner West Council amalgamation proposition comprising Marrickville, Leichhardt, Ashfield, Burwood, Strathfield and Canada Bay Councils under any circumstances;

 

  1. Council urgently undertake a community engagement process to inform residents of the latest developments. The community engagement process must highlight that Marrickville Council’s ongoing preferred option is to stand alone, and provide a genuine opportunity for residents to consider and provide feedback on the potential benefits and risks of an amalgamated Marrickville-Leichhardt-Ashfield Council, including through a survey and community information sessions; and

 

  1. A report be provided back to the first Council meeting in 2016.

 

Crunch time – Help save Marrickville Council

On 10 November 2015 an Extraordinary Marrickville Council meeting will be held to determine whether Council should “volunteer” to amalgamate as part of a new mega inner-west Council.

The Greens think residents should decide what their local councils look like. The Greens call on Labor and Liberal Councillors to stand up to the Liberal Government and vote for no mergers without community support!

Make your voice heard and sign the Petition to Save Marrickville Council.

If you live in the Marrickville Local Government Area you can also email councillors@marrickville.nsw.gov.au to raise your concerns about amalgamation directly with all of your local Councillors.

What is proposed for Marrickville Council?

Despite community opposition, the Baird government continues to push ahead with its plans for forced amalgamations across NSW. The NSW Government has told Marrickville Council it should amalgamate into a mega inner west Council, because it has been assessed as “unfit” by IPART.

The IPART Assessment of Councils found Marrickville Council to be a financially strong Council, but “unfit” because it too small. 71% of Sydney Councils – including City of Sydney – were found “unfit” because they are too small. Small Councils (the government claims) create too much “red tape” for government and developers.

The State Government had originally proposed that Marrickville Council merge with five other Councils to create a mega inner west Council with a population of 400,000. With none of the inner west Councils supporting this option, IPART has now suggested a merger of 3 or more Councils for Marrickville.

 

2015-11 Merged inner west Council image from website (3)

Crunch time – 10 November 2015 Extraordinary Council meeting

On 10 November 2015 the elected Marrickville Councillors will debate whether to put a voluntary merger option to the NSW Government.

Despite the State Government not having the power to sack Councils, some Labor and Liberal Councillors have suggested that Marrickville Council must consider voluntarily merging. They have proposed a merger between Marrickville-Leichhardt-Ashfield or potentially other Councils. See the Labor and Liberal proposals contained in the 10 November 2015 Council papers here.

If Council “volunteers” to merge, more powers are triggered for the Minister to suspend Council if he wishes. A public process may be held to consult with residents –  but the Minister does not need to listen to residents if they reject the proposed merger option!

This could mean no elected Council to stand up on issues like WestConnex and an uncertain future for the services and support that Marrickville Council provides.

Elected Councillors need to stand up for the residents who voted for them. The Councillors of Marrickville were democratically elected to serve their constituents and the Greens believe all Councillors should stand up to empty State Government threats.

What’s wrong with amalgamations?

Local Democracy – The Greens believe the community should decide what their Councils should looks like. Nearly 75% of residents voted against merging when consulted about amalgamations in 2015. Residents have asked Council to remain independent.
The Greens believe any new proposal to change Council boundaries must first go to the community to receive their support. The Liberal Government has set a deadline of one month for new merger options – no community consultation is proposed.
Services – The people of Marrickville appreciate the services and advocacy delivered by Marrickville Council. Marrickville Council spends more of its income directly back on residents than any other Council in NSW.
There is no evidence that services improve when councils are amalgamated. In fact, specialised services that our community loves so much, such as Council run-childcare & community festivals, will be threatened.
More efficient? – Local Councils aren’t wealthy, but they are – actually – very efficient. They have to be. Over the last few years State and Federal Government have withdrawn more and more grant funding across the board, and asked Council to pick up the slack. This includes, for example, cutting Meals on Wheels funding, reduced funding to maintain roads, and charging new fees for the use of public school buildings for subsidised childcare.
Under the amalgamation plans most estimated savings are proposed by “efficiencies” that involve sacking or outsourcing staff, or reducing services to the lowest common denominator across the merged Councils.
Cost – The cost of amalgamations will be many millions of dollars, rates are likely to increase (as happened in Victoria, Queensland and Auckland) and individual ratepayers will inevitably get less access to their local Councillors if mega-councils are created.

Does Baird have the power to sack Councils

No. Legal advice has been released which clearly shows that the Liberals need new legislation to sack Councils. This is why they are pushing the “voluntary” option. Read detailed legal advice on the website of David Shoebridge MLC.

What is IPART and “Fit for the Future” anyway?

IPART is the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. It sets special rates variations for councils
and is not independent of Government. The State Government asked IPART to assess all Councils as
to whether they were “fit for the future”, in terms of financial sustainability and size.

The Greens believe that the recent IPART report into local councils involved a flawed process that gave a rigged outcome. It recommended that of the 152 statewide councils, 103 councils merge, even though the vast majority were assessed as being financially ‘fit’. A NSW Parliamentary Inquiry has recommended that the government reject IPART’s findings.

Want to know more?

Save Marrickville Petition http://www.jennyleong.org/marrickville_council

Marrickville Council’s website http://yoursaymarrickville.com.au/amalgamations-and-marrickville

No Forced Amalgamations website which includes a summary of the business modelling undertaken by each of the six inner-west Councils  https://noforcedmergers.wordpress.com/

Save Marrickville Council campaign page with details of the community consultation undertaken to date https://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/issue/save-marrickville-council/

Save Our Councils statewide community campaign http://www.saveourcouncilsnsw.com/

Council considers legal options to challenge amalgamations

Media release, 21 October 2015

Marrickville Council is seeking urgent legal advice about its options to fight any attempt to sack or force a merger by the NSW Government, following a motion passed at its Council meeting at its October 2015 meeting.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore moved the motion, and said, “Marrickville Council does not support forced amalgamations. The community has told us it does not want Marrickville to merge with neighbouring Councils, and we will explore every avenue to protect our strong Council and the community services it provides.

“The IPART Assessment of Councils report released yesterday was no surprise. It found two thirds of Sydney Councils ‘unfit’ – not because they don’t have strong finances, but because they are smaller than the NSW Government wants.

“Marrickville and surrounding Councils, including Leichhardt, Ashfield and Strathfield – were found to meet all the criteria to be ‘fit’, except ‘scale and capacity’. Under the rigged criteria Marrickville Council could have a billion dollars in the bank and we would still have been found ‘unfit’, because we’d still be too small in the government’s eyes.

“Current NSW laws do not give the Minister the power to sack strong, functional Councils like Marrickville. The Minister also cannot change the boundaries of Councils (ie force mergers) without holding a public inquiry.

“However, with so few Sydney Councils taking up the State Governments pro-development amalgamation agenda, the release of the report has seen the State Government step up its threats about sackings.

“Prior to the release of the report yesterday morning, Liberal Premier Mike Baird held a web conference with Sydney Mayors at which he advised they had ‘one last chance’ to voluntarily merge.

“Only an hour later, upper house MPs for the Shooters and Fishers, Fred Nile, the Greens and the ALP were holding a press conference with the ‘Save our Councils’ coalition outside Parliament, confirming they would block any attempts to change legislation to force amalgamations. Without one of these groups the Liberal Government doesn’t have the power to change legislation in the NSW Parliament.

“The Government’s amalgamations agenda isn’t going to plan, and they know it. It is our responsibility as a Council to ensure that we are ready to act if the State Government does something stupid, like mass sackings of Councils. We will work with neighbouring Councils on legal options to challenge any action by the State Government to harm Councils outside the current laws,” Clr Ellsmore said.

More information:    Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

Greens State Planning Spokesperson David Shoebridge MLC 0408 113 952

 

What Marrickville Council passed

The amended text of the motion passed 20 October 2015 (Item 15):

That Council:

  1. Receive urgent legal advice as to its options to fight any decision or order made by the Minister for Local Government or Chief Executive of the Office of Local Government, to place Marrickville Council into administration pending forced amalgamation or implementation of the State Government’s Fit for the Future policy in respect of amalgamations;
  1. The legal advice should include:  a) Whether the findings of the IPART Report “Assessment of Council Fit for the Future” released on 20 October 2015 provide any grounds to the NSW Government to sack councils or force boundary changes;  b) Whether the State Government has any options to bypass or shortcut the public inquiry requirements of boundary changes; c) In the case where part or all of the Council was sacked, who would have standing ie the right to bring a court case, and what remedies would be available; d) If a sacked Council could access Council resources to undertake a challenge; and e) What are the prospects and risks of any action.
  1. Urgently liaise with other Sydney Councils about opportunities for coordinated legal and other options to fight any attempt by the NSW Government to sack Sydney Councils.

 

Highlights from the findings of the IPART ‘Assessment of Councils Fit for the Future Proposals’ released on 20 October 2015

Download a copy of the full report here: IPART Assessment of Councils

(At page 2) IPART assessed 87 Council proposals as not being fit for the future, which represents 63% of the proposals received.

Of the 87 proposals assessed as not fit, 60 were assessed as not having sufficient scale and capacity, but did meet the financial criteria [this includes Marrickville]

The main reasons for councils being assessed as not having sufficient scale and capacity included that “A merged entity could better integrate planning and development, resulting in improved planning decisions and enhanced economic growth.”

(at p9) IPART “assessed all Inner Metropolitan Sydney councils that had a preferred merger option, but submitted a stand-alone proposal, as not fit, as they did not meet the scale and capacity criterion.”

(at p 49) Details of the findings for the “Inner West” Councils are contained at 2.1.2 of the IPART Report, including proposed inner west merger map.

IPART found that “Ashfield, Leichhardt, Marrickville and Strathfield (are) not fit for the future as they did not meet the scale and capacity criterion although each Council met the financial criteria overall.

IPART accepted the independent modelling commissioned by these Councils [the Morrison Lowe Reports available on Marrickville Council’s website] and found $396 million in benefits from merging over 20 years spread across the 6 Councils. [The fine print on p283 reveals this figures “includes the full government grant”]

Independent modelling commissioned by IPART through Ernst & Lowe found a much lower figure of benefits – $194 million per annum over 20 years. [Divided between the 60 Councils that’s less than $2 million p/a each. That is less than 2% of Marrickville’s operating budget. Importantly, it is significantly less than Marrickville Council has already achieved in efficiency dividends itself over the last 3 years, and it matches or is less than further Marrickville Council is already on track to achieve under its current 10 year financial plan.]

The assessment table showing Marrickville Council meets the financial stability criteria is attached at p105.

The two page report on Marrickville Council specifically is included at p283.

Marrickville invited to appear at Local Government Inquiry

23 July 2015

Marrickville Council is one of only three Councils invited to appear at the Sydney hearing of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Local Government on Monday 27 July 2015, alongside Fairfeld and Mosman Councils. The hearing will take place from 9.00am to 5.30pm at NSW Parliament, with Marrickville Council due to appear at 2.15pm. See full hearing schedule HERE.

The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry was established by the upper house and includes Greens NSW Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge MLC . It has broad terms of reference including to examine the financial stability of local councils, and the costs and benefits of amalgamations, including evidence from other jurisdictions.

Marrickville Greens Councillors have successfully moved motions through Marrickville Council for Council to make a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry, and to provide tools to residents to make their own submissions. The Greens oppose forced amalgamations and want to keep Local Government local. Key reasons why the Greens do not want Marrickville Council to merge can be found HERE.

The Greens are also supporting the community campaign. At this week’s Council meeting a further Greens motion was formally adopted for Council to support the Save Our Councils coalition, a multi-partisan coalition of Councillors, Mayors and local community groups from across NSW which is fighting for the right of communities to decide what happens to their Councils.

Read the submissions

You can read a copy of Marrickville Council’s submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Local Government HERE.

You can also read the very detailed Marrickville Council submission to IPART, outlining why it does not want to merge into the “super inner west Council” as proposed HERE. Applying IPART’s own (flawed) criteria residents and Council would be worse off under nearly all of the measures. Council’s IPART submission and the Marrickville Council No Forced Amalgamations page link to the detailed independent modelling commissioned by Council (the “Morrison Low” reports) which further details how Council would be worse off.

Public submissions

The Parliamentary Inquiry is due to report on 17 August 2015 – before the report from IPART with its assessment of whether individual local councils are “fit for the future” is made to the NSW Government. The IPART report won’t be released to the public, so Councils won’t be told whether or why they’re being recommended for merger.

It’s too late to make a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry but residents can send a submission to IPART until 31 July 2015. You can do this through the IPART website – an email or letter is all that’s needed.

Get involved in the community campaign!

 

Council’s bike budget hits $1.2 million

Marrickville Council’s bike budget will be more than $1 million this financial year (2015-6), following a strong boost in Council’s internal budget and several successful grant applications. Campaigning by the Greens and bike groups last year led to a doubling of Marrickville Council’s  internal bike budget. The further increases this year meets the broader campaign target set by the Greens, and indicates the growing recognition within Council that building bike paths are “core business” for Council.

Questions on Notice by the Greens (linked and extracted below) reveal the details of the proposed spending, which was debated and passed with the support of the Greens Councillors, Labor Councillors and the Mayor as part of the 2015-6 Marrickville Council Budget at Council’s June meeting. Liberal Councillor Tyler and Independent Councillor Macri voted against the budget in its entirety.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore, who is the Chair of the Marrickville Transport Committee and a regular cyclist, said: “The bike spending of $1.2 million in a single year is a very significant increase. It comes off the back of years of campaigning by local residents, bike groups and the Greens.

“Local residents put a high value on building new, safe bike paths, as the inner west has one of the largest and fastest growing group of cyclists. Importantly, the Marrickville Local Government Area also now has the largest percentage of women cyclists of any Local Council area in NSW, at 26%[i],” Clr Ellsmore said.

Clr Ellsmore said, “Over the last few years Council has made significant new investment in its roads and footpaths. The Greens have been arguing for a long time that bike paths, just like footpaths, are key infrastructure and deserve proper investment.

“The Greens ran a campaign in the lead-up to last year’s budget vote calling for a significant increase for bike path. At the time, research released by the Greens showed that only 9% of the priority bike paths in Council’s Marrickville Bike Strategy 2007-2016 had been completed.

“As a result of the flood of submissions we received from commuters, families and recreational cyclists calling for greater investment in bike paths, Council voted to increase the amount of money it was committing from own coffers to last year’s bike budget by $200,000. Council also agreed to better integrate bike path planning with Council’s general road and footpath upgrade programs.

“The proposed 2015-6 bike path budget doubles the bike budget again, and makes good on Council’s promise to make building better bike paths part of our core business. Building better bike paths is an important part of making our local areas safer, healthier and more liveable,” said Clr Ellsmore.

The proposed new spending includes planning for several regional bike routes paths, as well as completion of a number of existing bike projects, as detailed in the Answers to the Questions on Notice tabled at the 19 May 2015 Council meeting (attached). A further late $200,000 grant was received, on top of the spending outlined in the 19 May 2015 Questions on Notice.

The draft Marrickville Council Budget 2015-6 also includes other significant increases to other Council infrastructure including roads, footpaths, stormwater drains and parks. Details of the 2015-6 Council budget can be found at Item 4 of the 19 June 2015 Marrickville Council meeting papers at

http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/elected-council/business-papers/

More information: Details of the Greens 2014 bike funding campaign can be found at

https://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/budget-win-for-cyclists/

End Notes

[i] See details in the Super Tuesday Bike Commuter Count 2015, available to download from https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/media/vanilla_content/files/Bike%20Futures/Counts/SuperTuesday/2015/ST2015%20Report_NSW_Summary.pdf . Marrickville Council participated in the count for the first time in 2015, following a Greens Notice of Motion. The count includes a sample of a number of sites. Sites will be expanded in future years.

Details of spending

A full copy of the answers to the Questions on Notice can be downloaded here – 150519 Mville Council QoN Bike Path Funding.

Extracts:

2015-05 Answer 205-6 Proposed Budget

*Note – These figures combine internal and external grant funding. 2013/4 included some significant grants from the State Govt.

For 2015/6 a further grant was received after May 2015. The 2015/6 figure includes $500,000 allocation by Council directly – the largest ever provided – with the additional income from government grants following a significant increase in the number of grant applications made by Council for bike projects.

2015-05 Answer to Q15 Bike Plan total cost

2015-05 Answer to Q14 Bike Plan

      

The State Govt grants for 2015/6 are a mix of planning and implementation – noting an additional grant was received post May 2015.

   2015-05 Answer to Q16 Bike Plan Grants

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