Un­der­paid coun­cil­lors want par­ity

The Riverine Herald - - GAME ON -

NSW coun­cil­lors are the low­est paid lo­cal gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the coun­try ac­cord­ing to Mur­ray River Coun­cil mayor Chris Bilkey. But hope­fully not for long. Cr Bilkey said coun­cil would de­mand the gap is closed at the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment NSW con­fer­ence.

The dis­par­ity in NSW coun­cil­lors’ fees and those re­ceived by coun­cil­lors in Vic­to­ria in par­tic­u­lar will form the ba­sis of a mo­tion the coun­cil will put to the con­fer­ence in Al­bury from Oc­to­ber 21 to 23.

Cr Bilkey said in­creased NSW fees would also hon­our the ad­di­tional work be­ing done, par­tic­u­larly those in merged coun­cils like Mur­ray River.

‘‘In our case (fol­low­ing the merger to Mur­ray Shire and Wakool Shire to form Mur­ray River), the size of our shire has tripled,’’ Cr Bilkey said.

‘‘Coun­cil­lors are trav­el­ling more to at­tend meet­ings, and it means they are away from their homes a lot longer.

‘‘All these things mean coun­cil­lors are work­ing longer hours.

‘‘Coun­cil­lors across NSW are the low­est paid of any lo­cal gov­ern­ment group in Aus­tralia — Vic­to­ria is about two times what we get, and in some cases more — there has to be uni­for­mity across the states.’’

An­nual fees for NSW ru­ral coun­cil­lors such as Mur­ray River are a max­i­mum of $11,860 per councillor, with a max­i­mum ad­di­tional $25,880 for the mayor.

Vic­to­rian coun­cil­lors in sim­i­larly rated coun­cils are al­lowed a max­i­mum fee of $20,231 per councillor and may­ors can earn up to $60,442 a year.

Cr Bilkey said clos­ing the gap would also go a long way to se­cur­ing ef­fec­tive coun­cils of the fu­ture.

‘‘If we want to build healthy coun­cils in the fu­ture, we need to at­tract peo­ple with strong en­tre­pre­neur­ial and busi­ness skills,’’ Cr Bilkey said.

‘‘They are not go­ing to be at­tracted if they are go­ing to be los­ing in­come to be a councillor.

‘‘The fee is a huge dis­in­cen­tive to serve the com­mu­nity as a councillor, and we need to re­move that dis­in­cen­tive and bet­ter re­ward our coun­cil­lors.’’

Cr Bilkey said the an­nual LGNSW con­fer­ence is an op­por­tu­nity to raise river­ine­herald.com.au is­sues of im­por­tance to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and to vote on new poli­cies for change.

‘‘We need to look at how we can best strengthen the lo­cal gov­ern­ment sec­tor in New South Wales and im­prove ser­vices and con­di­tions for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties,’’ he said.

‘‘In putting for­ward our mo­tions we are look­ing to­wards im­prov­ing on the de­liv­ery of in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices, and we are call­ing on all spheres of gov­ern­ment to work in part­ner­ship if we are to meet the on­go­ing chal­lenges be­fore us.’’

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