Mayors in the 12 local government areas of NSW hardest hit by Covid-19 are up in arms after Premier Gladys Berejiklian refused to meet them collectively to discuss “the devastating impacts of the State’s health orders on their communities”.
The President of Local Government NSW, Linda Scott, asked the Premier on 16 August to meet with the association and the affected community leaders, as well as the Minister for Health and the Police Commissioner.
But Scott said that Berejiklian had this week declined the meeting request.
Premier declines ‘a golden opportunity’
“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,” Scott stated.
“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.”
According to Scott, Berejiklian’s rejection of the meeting request breaches the commitment made in the Intergovernmental Agreement, which the Premier signed on behalf of State Government and Scott signed on behalf of local government, in October 2019.
“In this agreement, the Premier promised to consult with Local Government NSW 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,” she said.
Disappointment not politically motivated
Scott rejected suggestions that 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.”
Local Government NSW said it would continue to push for the collective meeting on behalf of the mayors in affected communities.