Meeting with Minister for Local Government
Published on 02 June 2023
Mayor Neil Reilly, Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP and our CEO Jane Stroud this week met the Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig at Parliament House, Sydney.
The meeting on Wednesday came shortly after the Minister made strong statements about local government finances, including Kiama Council, in parliament.
Mayor Reilly said the minister’s view of Council’s situation was neither a surprise nor shock, given all of these issues were self-disclosed to the previous NSW Government in December 2021.
“I understand why we were mentioned: we have a state-imposed Performance Improvement Order,” Cr Reilly said.
“However, as the Minister said, our financial situation and structural deficit are linked to our involvement in aged care.”
“It is what myself and my fellow Councillors had been telling our community throughout the term of this Council.”
“Our State of the Organisation Report first detailed these issues publicly in February 2022.”
“The NSW Auditor General made this keen observation, way back in August last year.”
“The Minister’s statement to Parliament was about the Emergency Services Levy, which is unrelated to our financial challenges.”
“Most importantly we aren’t asking for the NSW Government to bail us out.”
“We developed and implemented our own Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) in April 2022.”
“We have worked hard to prepare liquidity strategies, property divestment plans and resolved to divest ourselves of aged care, subject to required reclassification processes.”
“In May this year we adopted a new SIP, which continues the work being done to address our financial and governance challenges.”
Mayor Reilly said he used the meeting to thank the Minister for his frank appraisal of the previous Council’s decision-making concerning aged care capital investments.
Discussion at the meeting noted the extensive work done by the current Council to meet the Performance Improvement Order, with the last compliance report due to the NSW Government in a matter of weeks.
“The positive message that I took from our meeting was that the Minister and our local member, Gareth Ward, were well briefed on our situation, shared many of our views and understand the steps we are taking towards correcting our situation.”
“This is particularly pleasing and a reward for our CEO Jane Stroud, who made the very difficult decision back in 2021 to initiate the reviews, chart a new course and share that information with the community.”
“Jane has had the very difficult task, as an incoming CEO, to get a handle on our situation, get a new team of councillors up-to-speed, and lead the work on finding a way forward.”
“I have appreciated Jane’s efforts and her support to myself and my fellow councillors in leading the public discussions about the best way forward for this Council and the community it serves.”
“It’s not an easy thing to do, but doing the right thing often isn’t easy.”