Northern Rivers councils put forward a host of motions at the Local Government NSW conference.
Northern Rivers councils put forward a host of motions at the Local Government NSW conference.

What our councils pushed for at local government conference

IT COULD become more expensive to access information held by government bodies, after a motion that passed at the Local Government NSW conference.

Lismore City Council brought the motion calling for LGNSW to lobby the Information Privacy Commissioner to increase fees under the Government Information (Public Access) Act.

This was carried 72 to 28 per cent at last week's conference.

In the motion, the council called for an increase to processing of right-to-information applications, capped at $60 per hour.

The GIPA Act currently includes a $30 fee to apply for information held by government bodied, and a processing charge of $30 per hour of work required to fulfil the application.

In its motion, the council said this fee hadn't changes since it was introduced in 1989 under the Freedom of Information Act.

"The cost of processing an application is more than $30 per hour as the hourly pay rate of the staff processing the application is greater than $30,” the council said.

"According to the Reserve Bank of Australia website, a basket of goods and services valued at $30 in 1989, would in 2018 cost $63.50.

"This Notice of Motion seeks to increase the processing charge for applications to $60 per hour to cover staff costs and in recognition of the many hours spent processing these requests.”

Local councils have the power to waive or reduce processing fees based on an individual's situation.

In the 2017-18 financial year, the council processed nine GIPA applications.

Six were approved in part, two were withdrawn and one was refused.

The previous year, the council received 10 applications.

Also at the conference, Lismore City Council brought a motion that LGNSW declare a climate emergency, which was carried 51 to 49 per cent.

Also carried were the council's calls for the group to lobby the State and Federal Governments to increase Youth Allowance and Newstart, to make grant funding available for councils to trial electronic voting, and to establish social justice committees - like one that's already in place in Lismore - across all councils.

Tenterfield Shire Council's call to lobby the State Government for "an increased level of park and forest fire management activities and increased dams and water infrastructure points for firefighting purposes” was also carried.

Rous County Council's motion asking for integrated policy on groundwater extraction, which was put to them by Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader, also received support.

The motion called for the State Government to expand the scope of its Integrated Mining Policy to include "water mining”, particularly in relation to regional water security (quality and quantity), environmental and social impacts and the place of consultation in decision-making.

Ballina Shire Council garnered support for its motion on minimising harm related to poker machines.

That motion called for Liquor and Gaming NSW to increase inspections, monitoring and compliance activity and report the outcomes of this increased activity on its website on an annual basis.