Mayoral Minutes 2022

1. Thoughts, Aspirations and Highlights

Date: 8 February

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

Campbelltown City Council in its current form was established in 1948 by joining the Municipal District of Campbelltown and the Municipal District of Ingleburn (with part of the Nepean Shire) into one. In January 1949, the newly formed Council held its first meeting at which it elected Phillip Solomon as the first Mayor of the “Amalgamated Municipality of Campbelltown”. On 4 May 1968, the municipality was proclaimed the City of Campbelltown during the mayoralty of Clive William Tregear, Campbelltown’s longest serving Mayor.

Across our Council’s 73 years history, we have had 27 individual Mayors, of tenures ranging from a single year to 8 unbroken years. I am honoured and humbled to have been elected by my fellow Councillors, to serve as the 28th Mayor for the community of this great city of Campbelltown.

A Mayor is bound not just by the formal machinery of State as defined under the Local Government Act 1993, but also with the social norms developed through the wishes and aspirations of our residents for which the role signifies, and the path laid down by our predecessors in Council who have contributed to those practices and expectations which we observe today.

The role of a Mayor, and that of a Councillor, is akin to a brief chapter in a book written for the ages, an enduring narrative with more yet to be added and none of greater or lesser worth than the other. With this, allow me to begin our newest chapter by acknowledging the hard work and achievements of the former Mayor and Councillors.

The COVID-19 pandemic extended the last term of Council to more than 5 years, during which the Council twice elected Cr George Brticevic as Mayor. Under his leadership and with the support of his Deputy Mayors, Cr Lound and Cr Oates, the Council undertook a significant amount of strategic planning work for the future of the City.

This included 11 amendments made to our Development Control Plans and the adoption of 6 separate environmental policies and initiatives. Most notably, the adoption of Campbelltown’s Koala Plan of Management in 2018 and Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre Masterplan in 2020, which were the hallmarks of the term’s achievements. We have also continued our strong advocacy on behalf of the community on 19 separate State Government planning policies.

During its last term, the Council also appointed and reappointed its Local Planning Panel, established its Design Excellence Panel, re-endorsed our Western City Planning Panel Representatives, and approved 16 Planning Proposals.

As stated within the Local Government Act 1993, a critical role for the Mayor is "to ensure the timely development and adoption of the strategic plans, programs and policies of the council". I hope that all are in agreement that Cr Brticevic has indeed achieved this requirement, for the betterment of every resident in Campbelltown. There is no doubt that the people of Campbelltown will reap the benefits of his foresight and commitment for many years to come.

There have been many great initiatives introduced over the past Council term, and I wish to thank Cr Brticevic for all his great work and strategic achievements as Mayor.

I understand and accept however, that while we all commit to making the best decisions for our community at the time, no strategic planning can ever be considered complete or perfect, and I am sure that with the help of all Councillors, we will continue our tradition to review, revise and adopt our various strategic plans as the needs of our community and great city evolve.

Importantly, Campbelltown City Council has a strong tradition of doing its best to care for its natural environment and facilities that encourage social cohesion and education, physical activity as well as cultural and leisure activities. The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that as of 2021, Campbelltown had an estimated resident population of about 175,000 people, with an average age at a relatively youthful 36 years, and a significant number being couples with dependent children.

With a relatively young population it is important that we focus on Campbelltown’s open space areas which includes 1,189 hectares of protected national park (equivalent to roughly 2,400 football fields) and 379 identified open space areas equating to 1,400 hectares, including active sports grounds through to passive bushlands, parks and fully inclusive play spaces that all of our community can enjoy.

Our Council also operates 24 community halls with 17 available for community hire, 4 libraries which are visited more than 500,000 times annually, and 3 leisure centres with visitation of 350,000 per year. We maintain about 800 km of road, almost 2,000 km of footpaths, kerbs and gutter, and 422,000 m2 of car parks, and an extensive flood mitigation and stormwater network.

In NSW, Council assets are rated on a 5-point scale ranging from very poor to very good. In 2019 to 2020, 82 per cent of all our assets were regarded as good or very good. Over time, Council has been reducing the asset renewal backlog to provide improved and better amenity for residents and the community. In 2014 Council had an asset backlog of over $33 million, at the end of January 2022 the asset backlog has reduced to less $10 million.

However, I believe more can be done for the community and improving our public space infrastructure needs to be a priority based on the current condition ratings.

Unfortunately, it is our public space infrastructure that had the highest proportion of assets deemed to be in a poor or very poor condition. Whilst there have been significant efforts through Council’s Asset Renewal Program over the past few years, asset condition remains a high priority for residents. Maintenance and cleansing needs to be managed to ensure that the increased utilisation of our assets doesn’t decrease their quality.

To ensure that Campbelltown is best placed to meet both the economic and social needs of its current and future residents, as well as responding to unforeseen and ongoing challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, we need to ensure that the clear directions set before us from our strategic plans support us in responding to those needs. Of course one of the most important of these is a program that ensures to continued revitalisation and beautification of our city; one that will give rise to an even cleaner and more beautiful city, one that uplifts our residents quality of life and standards of living, fosters civic pride, promotes cultural integration for social harmony and encourages investment and jobs growth.

It is expected that our population will continue to increase at a relatively fast pace over the next 25-30 years. During the period from 2016 to 2021 our population increased by approximately 15,000 people (10 per cent). Approximately 10,200 buildings were approved across Campbelltown having a total estimated value of $4.44 billion with approximately 7,400 buildings being constructed. This is compared to the 10 year period between 2000 and 2010 where there was virtually zero growth across the Campbelltown area.

The past decade has also seen an unprecedented increase in the number of development proposals of a significant scale. More recently this includes multi-story mixed use development along the rail corridor and includes the following major residential projects planned or currently under construction:

  • Figtree Hill (Gilead) by Lendlease - Stage 1 is projected to deliver some 1,700 dwellings with first homes anticipated for release in 2023.
  • Menangle Park by Dahua Group - Anticipated to provide around 4,500 dwellings upon completion with first homes expected for 2022.
  • Macarthur Heights by Landcom - Projected nearing completion with some 1,100 homes already completed.
  • Willowdale Estate by Stockland - Spans across both the Camden and Campbelltown Local Government Areas and is planned to deliver about 3,700 homes.
  • New Breeze (Bardia) by Dahua Group - Nearing completion with a final yield of some 1,280 residential dwellings.
  • Kellicar Road Precinct Planning Proposal - A high-density mixed-use development located in the heart of Campbelltown City Centre, which is projected to deliver some 1,800 dwellings and an increased number of employment and commercial opportunities within the city’s Health and Education Precinct.
  • 22-32 Queen Street Planning Proposal - Proposes to demolish and redevelop the site as a high-density mixed-use development projected to deliver about 750 dwellings and a range of employment opportunities.
  • Campbelltown RSL Planning Proposal – Proposal to construct new mixed-use, RSL building including a 78 room hotel and approximately 430 residential apartments.
  • Glenfield Precinct Planning - Proposes the partial development of the Hurlstone Agriculture High School grounds at Glenfield, which could deliver another 3,000 dwellings with a range of densities to provide for the varying dwelling needs of our community near the Glenfield Railway Station.
  • The Greater Macarthur Priority Growth Area - Includes plans for increased densities at the urban renewal precincts along the Macarthur to Glenfield Urban Renewal Corridor, and in the order of 40,000 home sites across the Glenfield to Macarthur Urban Renewal Corridor and the areas of Gilead, Menangle Park and Appin.

Considering the above, it is imperative that we continue to act positively and mindfully to the pressures that come with significant growth and ensure that those pressures are able to be responded to sustainably as well as ensuring that growth is balanced and does not take singular precedence over our natural environment. We will try and negotiate the optimal path for delivering the requisite future social and physical infrastructure that sustains and elevates the wellbeing of our current residents and future generations, while protecting and ensuring a sustainable future for our most valuable natural environmental resources.

I am committed to our city's aspirations for the protection of our natural environment and we must strive to balance this with the continued evolution of the built environment during this phase of the city’s growth. It will undoubtedly not be easy, and we certainly cannot do it alone.

My commitment is to work with all sides of government at both state and federal levels to ensure that Campbelltown receives its fair share and our community is not overlooked or forgotten.

However, we cannot sit back and wait for this to happen, and we must act now and we must continue to act. In this regard I have asked the General Manager to:

  1. Undertake an urgent review of our public space infrastructure;
  2. Develop an actionable plan that ensures our public spaces are always well maintained;
  3. Plan a continuous city beautification program for cleaning and maintaining our assets for the enjoyment of all our residents.

I recognise that such a program may come at a significant cost and requires reapportionment of Council resources as well as seeking alternate funding sources. The General Manager will develop a way forward that outlines the key actions and milestones to achieve this, including an appropriate Councillor and community engagement plan. Once the General Manager has completed the review, the Council and the community will be presented with a plan including options and resourcing implications for examination, debate and consultation.

This is but the first step in a long and comprehensive plan that I wish to highlight to my fellow councillors and community, and I intend to use my Mayoral Minutes to keep you informed of our progress, breakthroughs and setbacks. Ours is a shared journey, and as I have said publicly, I am committed 100 per cent to transparent decision-making and to providing everyone with all of the available information so as to help people make their own informed decisions and evaluate the decisions of others.

Monthly Highlights

As my first order of business as Mayor, I had requested a meeting with each Minister and Shadow Minister in State Government, and with our local MPs, to explore opportunities jointly for Campbelltown; and some meetings have already taken place, and I look forward to giving you an update on the outcome of all these discussions in the near future.

I was also honoured to announce the recipients of the 2022 Campbelltown City Australia Day Awards at an online ceremony shared on Australia Day. Although it was disappointing that we were unable to hold this important ceremony in person, it was nevertheless a cause for celebration to acknowledge all our worthy nominees and winners. On behalf of all, I wish to thank Aunty Glenda Chalker for her Welcome to Country and Hamani Tanginoa who performed the Australian National Anthem in both English and Dharawal. I very much look forward to a time when we can return to hosting such wonderful and important ceremonies like these in person.

This year we had some very worthy nominees, and in recognition of her efforts and dedication to working with some of the most vulnerable in our community and advocating for an end to gender–based violence, local resident Lesley Robson was awarded 2022 Campbelltown Citizen of the Year. Our other award winners were for Sportsperson of the Year, Mitchell Austin, and for Community Group Initiative of the Year, Lomandra Community Pantry, and for Environmental Citizen of the Year, Alexis Bowen and finally, the winner of the Diversity and Inclusion Award, was Renee Allara. Again, I extend my congratulations to all of the nominees and winners and thank those who took the time to submit the nominations.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise Uncle Ivan Wellington, our 2021 Citizen of the Year for his tireless contributions to our community. Uncle Ivan dedicates much of his day to share his knowledge of Aboriginal culture and to mentor the youth in our community and on behalf of all of us, I thank him for his resolute commitment.

2. Reflections, Considerations and Updates

Date: 8 March

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

Since being elected to the role, I have received countless communications from our residents, providing me with valuable insights on some of the great work the Council has been doing and where we could do better.

Without feedback from our residents, we cannot know how we are tracking or how we can improve. Our responsibility is to provide the services that our communities require and always strive to improve on this.

However, I have also received an unusual but interesting third type of request, asking the Council to deal with or intervene in things that are not remotely related to the role of Local Government or that of a Mayor or Councillor. This has raised my interest in how people perceive the roles of Local Government and Councillors. The confusions of the roles and responsibilities of Local Government are understandable. They vary drastically from country to country and even from state to state within Australia. In NSW, these roles and responsibilities have changed significantly in local government history.

Through its 180 years of evolution in NSW, Local Government has had its roles and responsibilities developed through a complex struggle for control, between the NSW State Government, Councils, and the residents.

Now, Local Government in NSW operates in an increasingly complicated environment, with roles and responsibilities under more than 50 different pieces of legislation and direct relationships with more than 20 NSW and Commonwealth Government agencies.

I hope that together, over this term of Council, we will work to understand our residents' needs and aspirations better while informing them about the roles and responsibilities of our Council. These understandings are critical to being effective community advocates and democratically elected representatives.

This year, with the staged release from June 2022 of the 2021 Census data, provides an optimal opportunity to undertake more profound research into our community’s needs and aspirations, their general perception of our roles and responsibilities and how to see and prioritise the four key themes that form the basis of the Integrated Planning and Reporting framework.

Rather than turning these Mayoral Minutes into a historical account or substantive debate about the roles and responsibilities of Local Government, I want to focus on a vital issue that is critical to our city today, the Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) Framework.

We will deal with other issues as they arise, discussing my plans to understand our community further in future minutes and motions.

Integrated Planning and Reporting

The Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) framework first came into effect in 2009 and outlines a number of our statutory obligations regarding documenting and reporting our plans for the future. The underlying assumption of the framework is that all council planning should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the community's priorities and expectations.

The intention of IP&R is to take the community's aspirations and convert them into a series of plans that outline the goals and strategic actions required to achieve our community's vision. However, it also must be developed with due regard to NSW Government's State Priorities and other relevant state and regional plans.

The Framework is intended to provide a reporting structure to enable Council to communicate their progress against the plans and provide a process for review to ensure the goals and actions remain relevant and can be adjusted over time when needed. The Framework requires strategic objectives in four key categories; social, environmental, economic and civic leadership, commonly referred to as “the quadruple bottom line”.

The IP&R suite of documents begins with the Community Strategic Plan (CSP), which is prepared by Council on behalf of the community, reflecting its needs and aspirations over the following 10 year period. The CSP is our highest level plan and is used to inform the development of the Delivery Program and Operational Plan. The Delivery Program and Operational Plan sets out the activities that Council will undertake in response to the community's needs and its plan to deliver essential services.

The legislation requires each Council to publish a State of Environment Report at the end of each council term, and you can read Campbelltown City Council’s State of Environment Report in the 2 November 2021 Council Business Paper. The legislation also requires Councils to review and adapt their CSP by 30 June following a Council election. You will see our CSP included in this Council business paper (Item 8.13) for consideration.

I would have liked more time to work through the process. However, additional time was not provided for the adoption of the CSP when the election was changed from September to December. As such, we must move quickly to ensure we meet the deadline.

I am comforted that this is a community plan that residents have had the opportunity to contribute their aspirations to and that the plan is contemporary and agile to meet the needs of our growing community.

The CSP goes through a comprehensive engagement process which commences with a review of existing engagements and data to establish a baseline and analyse existing insights. A number of consultation activities occur to further explore the themes and insights including surveys, face to face engagement and workshops. All of these collective insights assist us in ensuring the plan is reflective of the community and their aspirations and desires for the future.

I would like to acknowledge the work of staff who have worked tirelessly to capture the aspirations of our community to ensure it is reflected in this plan. I also would like to thank our past Councillors, who contributed their knowledge and assisted in developing the original plan that formed the foundation of our new CSP and our new and returning Councillors who have contributed to the current plan bringing fresh eyes and ideas.

 I encourage our entire community to have their say on the Community Strategic plan when it goes on public exhibition as this will inform the activities undertaken by Council through the Delivery Program and Operational Plan. I further encourage the community to continue to contribute to our future by having a say on the many plans and projects we deliver.

 We undertake community engagement in a diverse range of way and you can regularly contribute and have your say on our 'Over to You’ platform that can be found on Council's website.

 The IP&R framework clearly states that the role of the Mayor is to:

  • ensure the timely development and adoption of the strategic plans, programs and policies of the Council
  • promote the effective and consistent implementation of the strategic plans, programs and policies of the Council
  • promote partnerships between the Council and key stakeholders
  • advise, consult with and provide strategic direction to the General Manager in relation to the implementation of the strategic plans and policies of the Council
  • in conjunction with the General Manager, ensure adequate opportunities and mechanisms for engagement between the Council and the local community.

In conjunction with the General Manager, we will do all we can to achieve our policy objectives and deliver for the city, and I will keep you informed each step of the way.

Advocacy Update

Since commencing in the role of Mayor, I have written to more than 70 MP’s asking them for a meeting to discuss Campbelltown’s future and advocate for many of our existing and future projects, including all our local MP State and Federal, all NSW Ministers and All NSW Shadow Ministers as well as the Crossbenches.

To date, I have had positive meetings with Mr Greg Warren MP: Member for Campbelltown and Mr Anoulack Chanthivong MP: Member for Macquarie Fields, as well as Dr Mike Freelander MP: Federal Member for Macarthur, and Ms Anne Stanley MP: Federal Member for Werriwa.

I am thankful to our local MPs for taking the time to meet and listen to me and for sharing some of their invaluable knowledge of the area. I look forward to working closely with them to achieve the best possible outcome for the people of Campbelltown through our synergy and collaboration.

I have also met with Mr Peter Bryan Sidgreaves MP: Member for Camden and Mr Nathaniel Smith MP: Member for Wollondilly, as well as Cr Matt Gould: Mayor - Wollondilly Shire to talk about the border regional perspective and better ways of collaboration.

I also have meetings scheduled or in the process of scheduling with The Hon. Angus Taylor MP: Federal Member for Hume, Cr Theresa Fedeli: Mayor - Camden Council and Cr Ned Mannoun: Mayor – Liverpool City Council to continue the prospective regional conversation.

In the last month, I have met 4 Ministers, The Hon. Anthony Roberts MP: Minister for Planning, and Minister for Homes, The Hon. Natalie Ward MLC: Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence The Hon. Geoff Lee MP: Minister for Corrections and The Hon. Rob Stokes MP: Minister for Infrastructure, Minister for Cities, and Minister for Active Transport.

I have also met with 4 Shadow Ministers: Ms Julia Finn MP: Shadow Minister for Sport, and Shadow Minister for Youth, Mr Tim Crakanthorp MP: Shadow Minister for Skills and TAFE, and Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education, Mr Paul Scully MP: Shadow Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and Ms Yasmin Catley MP: Shadow Minister for Customer Service and Shadow Minister for Digital.

I would like to thank our local MP, Mr Greg Warren MP, for providing me with access to Parliament House, making his office available to me while I am in Parliament and organising an encouraging and productive last-minute meeting with Mr Chris Minns MP: Leader of the Opposition.

I have also met with The Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox MLC: President of the Legislative Council of NSW, and The Hon. Mark Latham, MLC leader of One Nation in NSW. The Legislative Council plays an essential role in our democratic system, and I am thankful for the time they have taken to talk to me about Campbelltown and the support they can provide through their critical roles.

The last month was undoubtedly a busy time for NSW Parliament, with a new Cabinet returning from Christmas break, Super Saturday by-elections and the first week of Parliament seating for 2022, as well as ongoing challenges of COVID-19. Meeting so many MPs, Ministers, and Shadow Ministers is a testimony to the importance both sides of government place on Campbelltown.

The conversation included discussion on the infrastructure needs of our city, shortfalls in our access to essential services, planning matters and the Campbelltown Community and Justice Precinct (CCJP), to name but a few topics.

I am thankful to everyone for making the time to talk with me and their positive feedback and support for our city. I am grateful to them for their goodwill and advice, and I am looking forward to working with the Government and the Opposition during my term as Mayor.

Rest assured that this process is not over. I have many more meetings scheduled with the other Ministers, Shadow Ministers and Crossbench over the next few weeks, and I will make sure to advise you of the progress as it happens.

West Invest

Last year, the NSW Government announced WestInvest, a landmark $5 billion program to secure families' best quality of life and make communities in West and South-West Sydney even better places to live.

This week the next step of this initiative was launched, offering 15 local Councils, including Campbelltown, the ability to receive a minimum of $20 million per Council, to expedite local projects that meet the WestInvest criteria with additional funding available on a pro-rata basis for up to a maximum of $35 million per Council (based on population size).

The WestInvest program supports local infrastructure that improves community amenity and boosts economic recovery. The funding will be made available to Local Governments for projects across 6 categories:

  1. Quality green and open space
  2. Community infrastructure
  3. School modernisation
  4. Arts and cultural facilities
  5. High street activation
  6. Local traffic programs.

We are very excited to have the opportunity to receive a minimum of $20 million to spend on our city. The General Manager and the Directors are reviewing the funding criteria and scoping possible project options to be presented to the Council for their discussion.

Outstanding Items

In my last Mayoral Minute, I shared that I have asked the General Manager to undertake an urgent review of our public space infrastructure and develop an actionable plan that ensures our public spaces are always well maintained, and to plan a continuous city beautification program for cleaning and maintaining our assets for the enjoyment of all our residents.

Since my conversation with the General Manager, our staff have spent more than 8,500 hours servicing our parks and open space areas.

I also understand that the General Manager and the Director of City Governance are well advanced in their reviews and are in the process of finalising their plans to achieve the stated outcome. I would like to thank them both for their hard work, I am looking forward to seeing the program, and I hope to bring it to the Council in the near future.

Finally, today I want to highlight one of the critical topics of conversation I have been having, the Community and Justice Precinct.

Community and Justice Precinct

The next stage of planning for a new Community and Justice Precinct in Campbelltown was announced in November 2021, with the Morrison Government and the Perrottet Government announcing $1.2 million in joint funding under the Western Sydney City Deal to progress the project and develop the Final Business Case.

The envisioned Community and Justice Precinct is a new style of justice precinct combining Federal and State justice services alongside community services, providing high-value career opportunities and a more supportive experience for those utilising justice services in the rapidly growing Western Sydney region.

The Community and Justice Precinct is a catalytic project for our city, in addition to bringing jobs and services, it will serve as an essential piece of economic and social infrastructure in the heart of our CBD. While it is still in its planning phases, there continues to be strong interest from Government and other key stakeholders to see this project realised.

The 3 tiers of Government continue to work together on the next stage of planning for the Precinct – the concept design stage – which will involve urban and landscape design, technical studies, open place strategy and environmental effects.

We look forward to talking to our community further about this project in the coming months when we commence community engagement, seeking input from our community to help inform the overall masterplan for the Community and Justice Precinct.

3. Take Care Campbelltown

Date: 8 March

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

Over the last few weeks our region has experienced unprecedented weather that has brought with it many challenges, some that are yet to be realised and that we will be working to overcome well after this storm event has passed. 

Throughout these past few days, SES and RFS volunteers have worked alongside Council staff and NSW Police to monitor road conditions and flood damage while responding to incidents as they occur. 

The Emergency Services and the many volunteers that assist in emergency situations are to be commended and we are forever grateful for the hard work and countless hours they contribute to our city, even when some of their own homes might be under threat from rising waters or the ongoing rain. I would also like to acknowledge the Council staff who are going above and beyond to support the community. 

Our first priority is ensuring the safety of the community until this weather event has passed and we will then get on with the job of restoring up our streets and drainage, and repairing the storm damage over the coming days and weeks. 

With forecasts for heavy rains continuing, I would like to take this opportunity to urge our community to continue to remain vigilant, take care and keep an eye on updates from Emergency Services. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who are currently experiencing challenging circumstances across Campbelltown and our broader region. We know that as the weather eases, our community will continue to support each other.

4. Paying tribute to Paul Hawker

Date: 12 April

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to former Mayor and long-serving councillor Paul Hawker, who sadly passed away last month following a courageous battle with brain cancer.

Paul was a passionate voice for Campbelltown, who devoted his time to improving the lives and opportunities for residents of our city.

Paul was first elected to Council in 2004, serving for 12 years as a councillor, including one year as Mayor from 2015 to 2016. He retired prior to the 2016 election to devote more time to his family and his other many other community commitments.

A Vietnam veteran, Paul served in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment from 17 May 1970 to 1 June 1971, later going on to enjoy a career as an officer in the Military Police.

His dedication to public service was an inspiration to fellow councillors and his advocacy and commitment played a major role in securing Campbelltown’s place as a regional city.

Paul understood that Campbelltown would be an important regional centre in the years to come and helped lay the groundwork for much of the strategic planning work that is enabling Council to seize the opportunities for our city today.

He worked tirelessly during his 12 years on Council to ensure that residents were always at the forefront of Council’s thinking and he was a staunch advocate for their interests, both on a larger scale and in the day-to-day business of Council services.

As Mayor, Paul hosted a special event to welcome the Kangaroo March to Campbelltown in 2015 and officially opened a new World War One memorial in Mawson Park in 2016 as part of the city’s Anzac Centenary commemorations. He always wore his badges with pride at these events and spoke passionately about his service and the important role veterans played in educating future generations.

He was also advocated for upgrades at Macarthur Square valued at more than $200 million and worked hard to achieve countless upgrades and improvements in many of our city’s parks and playgrounds.

He was the former chair of the Community Safety and Campbelltown Arts Centre subcommittees and also served on the Corporate Governance Committee, the City Works Committee, the Association of Mine Related Councils, Macarthur Zone Bush Fire Management Committee, Macarthur Zone Rural Fire Service District Liaison Committee and the Sydney Metro West Region Joint Regional Planning Panel.

In addition to his role as a Councillor, Paul also served as President of the Macarthur Regional Organisation of Council’s, Local Government NSW Director and was a member of the Fit for the Future Ministerial advisory group.

His service to the community extended beyond Council with his involvement in the Ingleburn Lions Club and Campbelltown Rotary, where he served as president. He was devoted time to the United Hospital Auxiliary Campbelltown Branch. He was an active member of the Ingleburn RSL sub-branch and was a passionate advocate for our city’s veterans, proudly participating in a range of events and initiatives across our region.

Paul’s funeral was held at the St Peter’s Anglican Church in Campbelltown on Thursday 31 March. The tributes spoken about Paul at the service were a testament to the man that he was, a fierce advocate for Campbelltown, a man who called a spade a spade and above all else, a passionate and caring family man.

On behalf of Council and the community of Campbelltown, I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to Paul’s wife Sigrid, his son Aaron and Daryl and their partners, his grandchildren, extended family and friends.

5. Thoughts and Reflections

Date: 12 April 

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

I would like to start this month's Mayoral Minute with some personal reflection on a number of matters. Firstly, I hope you all will join me in paying tribute to a friend, former Mayor and long-serving Councillor Paul Hawker. I started my Council service with Paul in 2008, and recall many open and frank debates and conversations that contributed to developing my understanding of the role Council. Most notably the important role we play in ensuring our city thrives and grows and continues to be a place where people want to live and work, where we take full advantage of opportunities and tirelessly advocate for the needs of our residents. I talk about Paul's contribution to our city, life, and memories in a dedicated Mayoral Minute.

April marks a significant time for many people of faith in our community, with people of differing beliefs celebrating important religious festivals over the coming weeks. For people of the Muslim faith, they are already well into Ramadan – a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer.  This weekend, Lent will come to an end, and Christians will celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday to mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, while later this month, those of the Christian Orthodox faith will be celebrating their Holy Friday and Easter Sunday. This month also sees the start of the Jewish Passover, the first and most significant of the Jewish pilgrim festivals.

With so many celebrating or reflecting during this time of year, it is a reminder that one of our city's strengths has always been its vibrant and successful diversity and multiculturalism. By sharing our beliefs and customs with our neighbours, we can better understand each other and live harmoniously.

While our faith may be different, the similarities in each of them help to bind us together as a community and work towards the common good. I believe working together and putting the interest of our community ahead of our differences, we will continue to become a stronger and more resilient community.

As we move forward together it is essential to acknowledge our history and learn from our past mistakes, and in April, we must also remember the Appin Massacre.

The Appin Massacre tragically occurred on the 17 April 1816. It was carried out in reprisal for disputes between white settlers and ordered by the then Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie. There was no evidence the group of Dharawal people who were targeted had any link to prior clashes in the area.

Documents in the NSW State Government archive record how soldiers attacked the group at their camp at 1 am, driving them towards a precipice with gunfire. While 14 bodies were counted, others were believed lost and unaccounted for in the gorge. Only 2 women and 3 children survived according to the account of Captain James Wallis, who led the attack.

Since 2000 the Appin Massacre has been commemorated annually at a memorial service at Cataract Dam and Council has recognised this important date in our history with a commemorative flag raising held each year in the Council Forecourt where there is also a plaque marking this tragic chapter in our regions history.

Flooding, Hazard and Resilience

During extreme weather events and emergencies, our number one objective has to be the safety of our community. During the recent weather events that impacted our city, 88 of our Campbelltown SES volunteers attended operational duties multiple times, and Campbelltown flood rescue technicians attended at least 16 flood rescues across the Campbelltown and Camden LGAs. 

They also attended several other flood rescues within surrounding LGAs and supported the Camden SES during this event. Over 7,000 sandbags (both empty and full) were provided to the community via remote sandbag filling points, and approximately 200 tonnes of sand was used.

The residents of Menangle Park were put on flood evacuation notice on two separate occasions due to the river height levels reaching above the major flood level, fortunately however the river flooding at Menangle Park had no impact on properties. Cambridge Avenue, Glenfield and the Nepean River crossing at Menangle Park were impacted and closed at various times throughout the ongoing weather event.

The constant rain also caused widespread damage to the local road network, with more than 200 minor road issues being lodged by the community. Council's Civil Works team is undertook temporary pothole patching works and also provided support to neighbouring LGAs. Thirty-eight heavy patching projects have also been identified and our teams are currently assessing and planning for these works.  Council crews also responded to numerous blocked drains and culverts, carrying out cleaning and safety diversions where water caused localised flooding of roads.

I would like to thank our staff and volunteers for all their dedication and hard work, without their efforts, one cannot imagine how much worse this could have been. I also would like to thank our residents for their patience and resilience.

As our city continues to grow, we become increasingly reliant on vital support services, including health, transport, utilities, telecommunications, and social services. Over the last few years, we have seen this reliance tested through devastating bushfires and floods, dangerous heatwaves and storm events, as well as an evolving disease pandemic. These challenging years have made it clear that we need to maintain and increase our resilience as a city.  

Resilience is defined as the capacity of communities to survive, adapt and thrive no matter what kinds of chronic stresses (slow-burning pressures that impact everyday life) and acute shocks (abrupt events that can stop a city) they experience.

Campbelltown has commenced work to undertake a Resilience Hazard Assessment using best practice methodology applied to other cities in Australia and overseas. However, resilience is a team sport and requires all of us to work together to embed the necessary steps to achieve our objectives.

Campbelltown is also a member of Resilient Sydney, collaborating with all 33 metropolitan Council’s of Greater Sydney to develop and implement a city-wide resilience strategy. Our General Manager is a founding member of the Resilient Sydney Steering Committee.

We recently celebrated our community's resilience with an exhibition at our Arts Centre that features the portraits of 10 local individuals who demonstrate resilience in our community. I would like to congratulate local artist Emmanuel Asante who was not only one of 10 people included in these fantastic portraits, but was also the artist who painted them after conducting sitting sessions online during the lockdown of 2021, with the support of the team at the Campbelltown Arts Centre.

The exhibition also marks the completion of our Resilience Hazard Assessment and I look forward to bringing that to the Council and the community over the next few months.

Council will be strengthening our relationships with our community and the services that support them and will build on relationships that have further developed during the pandemic. Council contributes an invaluable resource to our city's resilience, as we respond to our community's evolving needs.  

Advocacy Update

This month I have had number of positive meetings with the Hon. Matt Kean MP: Treasurer, and Minister for Energy, the Hon. Ben Franklin MLC: Minister for the Arts, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Regional Youth, the Hon. Steph Cooke MP: Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, and Minister for Flood Recovery, the Hon. James Griffin MP: Minister for Environment and Heritage, the Hon. Victor Dominello MP: Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, the Hon. Wendy Tuckerman MP; Minister for Local Government, and the Hon. David Elliott MP: Minister for Transport and Minister for Veterans.

I have also met with 3 Shadow Ministers: Mr David Harris, MP: Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, Shadow Minister for Jobs, Investment and Tourism, Ms Jennifer Aitchison MP: Shadow Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Mr Jihad Dib MP: Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change. I also meet with the Hon. Robert Borsak MLC, the Hon. Mark Banasiak, and the Hon. Emma Hurst from the Legislative Council.

The conversation, as was the case with last month's meetings, focused on the infrastructure needs of our city, shortfalls in services, planning matters and the Campbelltown Community and Justice Precinct, as well as topics within the portfolio of each of the Ministers and Shadow Ministers that are critical for our city's growth.   

This month I also attended my first City Deal meeting with the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP: Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts and representatives from the other councils. The City Deal has a long history and includes many projects and commitments that I am now familiarising myself with. The City Deal is also currently going through an independent review as committed in the original agreement, to evaluate the ongoing effectiveness of the City Deal Framework and recommend any improvements. I will be advising the Council of any updates as I grasp the variety and complexity of the projects.

I also welcome the Federal Government's commitment of $77.5 million to develop a business case in support of Stage 2 of the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport line, linking Glenfield to the Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird Walton) Airport.

A connection to Glenfield would ensure our community has access to a fast, reliable, and accessible service to the International Airport, the surrounding economic infrastructure and associated jobs. I hope to see the business case completed in time to enable a continuation of works to connect our community to the new Airport while the machines are still in the ground after Stage 1.

Outstanding Matters

In my last two Mayoral Minutes, I shared that I have asked the General Manager to undertake an urgent review of our public space infrastructure and develop an actionable plan that ensures our public spaces are always well maintained and plan a continuous city beautification program for cleaning and maintaining our assets for the enjoyment of all our residents.

I am pleased to advise that the planning for the program has begun, and Councillors have been briefed. The program is subject to budget approval, and I am sure all the Councillors will join me in supporting the required investment to deliver on this plan for our city. I will detail how we will start on this journey of cleaning, maintaining and city beautification as part of my future Mayoral Minutes relating to the budget.  

6. Thoughts, Opportunities and Priorities

Date: 10 May

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

On the 26 April 2022, the Council unanimously passed that the draft Delivery Program 2022-26 and Operational Plan 2022-23 (including the Budget and Fees and Charges) and draft Long-term Financial Plan 2022-32 to be placed on public exhibition from 27 April 2022 to 25 May 2022.

The Delivery Program identifies 37 essential services and over 150 actions and deliverables in 2022-23. The Program sets out the Principal Activities we will undertake during this elected term to address the Community Strategic Plan, with City Revitalisation and City Resilience being our 2 overarching strategic priority areas.

City Revitalisation is not an easy task. It's a complex endeavour that requires cooperation between Council, Governments (State and Federal), private stakeholders and residents to work together to achieve our City's inspiration.

City Revitalisation is my, and I am sure of all the Councillors, commitment to making the whole of Campbelltown an attractive place to live, work and play. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the best outcome for our community, and our $280 million draft Operational Plan 2022-23 is the next step to achieve our objective for the first year of this term.

Council's budget includes a rate increase of 1.2 per cent, set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW and significantly below CPI. 

The Operational Plan contains ongoing capital works of $69 million, including:

  • $25.8 million in road and road-related projects
  • $1.4 million in drainage and flood mitigation
  • $7.9 million in open space, including parks and sports field major improvements
  • $3.8 million in land and buildings
  • $3.9 million in Plant and equipment
  • $26.6 million in community facilities.

In addition to our ongoing works, the Operational Plan also includes further investment in the City's presentation to build on civic pride through a new City Amenity and Appeal Program worth $2.4 million:

  • Acceleration of shade sails will see 6–8 new shade sails delivered in 2022-23 ($300,000).
  • Investment in public space to improve our public space assets ($400,000).
  • CBD and high profile zones will have enhanced maintenance, including improved quick response capacity, hot pressure washing and improved weed control ($600,000).
  • Facility improvements at leisure and childcare centres to improve the presentation and the user experience ($1.1 million). 

 The draft Operational Plan and budget are financially sound and robust, meeting or exceeding all financial benchmark indicators set by the Office of Local Government.

Our second overarching strategic priority area is City Resilience. As I detailed in my last Mayoral Minute, resilience is defined as the capacity of communities to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter what kinds of chronic stresses (slow-burning pressures that impact everyday life) and acute shocks (abrupt events that can stop a city) they experience.

The City Resilience priority reflects our commitment to helping our community continue, and build on, the robust resilience we demonstrated in the face of fire, floods and COVID-19 over the last few years. A focus on resilience is timely and essential as we get exposed to more shocks and stresses, which can cause substantial disruption and lead to adverse outcomes.

In this month's business paper, 3 Officer reports focus on our City's Resilience, including items:

  • 8.1 - Local Housing Strategy - Approval Conditions and Affordable Housing Initiatives
  • 8.2 - Amendment to Campbelltown Local Environmental Plan 2015 - Natural Disasters Clause
  • 8.11 - Our Resilience Hazard Assessment.

These items help build the foundation of our strategies and reflect lessons we have learned, using best practice methodology applied to other cities in Australia and overseas.

The business paper also has 2 items in response to the motion passed during the last term of Council that deal with our communities Resilience:

  • 8.4 - Response to Support for the Homeless in Campbelltown Notice of Motion
  • 8.5 - Response to Glenalvon House Notice of Motion 

While the recommendation in both reports are not conclusive, they demonstrate the further work we must undertake with our community in the coming months and years to achieve the envisioned City Resilience priority.

I look forward to tonight’s debate on all of the 5 issues. 

Admittedly, the concept of City Resilience is relatively new to me. The credit for the result achieved so far, including the Resilience Hazard Assessment, our city’s collaboration with all 33 metropolitan Council’s and our community's recent resilience art exhibition, has to be given to the former Mayor Cr George Brticevic, our General Manager and our dedicated Council staff.

As I develop the necessary understanding of the resilience issues facing our city, I intend to bring key recommendations from our expert partners and professional staff to the Chamber for public discussion and consultation.

For now, we will continue to foster City Resilience through the range of projects and programs highlighted in our Delivery Program and Operational Plan.

We will continue to support a higher than statutory pensioner concession rebate of $300 per annum and undertake a $745,000 community and cultural events program, which will see the return of favourites like Chill Fest, Feast Campbelltown and our flagship Festival of Fisher's Ghost celebrations.

Advocacy Update

With the exception of a few NSW Ministerial meetings scheduled over the next few weeks, I have now completed all of the meetings I set out to undertake when I first commenced as Mayor. I am awaiting the result of the Federal election before I start on our next round of advocacy meetings in Canberra. I look forward to meeting and working with the newly elected Government, and our Local Members for the benefit of our city. 

One key item of discussion that continues to be a priority in all of my discussions with all tiers of Government is the Community and Justice Precinct, an essential piece of social and economic infrastructure in our city and region more broadly. As I have previously mentioned in past Mayoral Minutes this project will bring jobs, critical services and much needed investment in our CBD. It must remain high on the agenda and it is important that we continue our strong advocacy around this project at every available opportunity. As such, I have asked the General Manager to explore any other mechanisms that may assist us securing this city-shaping opportunity for Campbelltown.

Outstanding Matters

In my previous Mayoral Minutes, I have outlined my request to the General Manager to undertake an urgent review of our public space infrastructure and develop an actionable plan that ensures our public spaces are always well maintained and that we plan for a continuous city beautification program for cleaning and maintaining our assets for the enjoyment of all our residents.

The program is highlighted above and consists of the City Amenity and Appeal Program worth $2.4 million. I would like to thank the General Manager and the staff for being able to derive such a program quickly. I believe that the success of this program will be the beginning of our further commitment to the continuous city beautification and amenity program. I look forward to the program implementation and the feedback from our community.

I am also pleased to advise that the planning for the WestInvest allocation of $26.6 million committed to Campbelltown has begun, and Councillors have been briefed. There are a broad range of proposed projects across our Local Government Area that are intended to benefit the diverse needs and demographic of our city. I look forward to sharing more information about these projects over the coming months.

7. Billabong Parklands Project Audit 

Date: 12 July

Recommendation: That the information be noted.

I intend to keep this Mayoral Minute focused on 2 key items on the agenda, Campbelltown Billabong Parklands - Project Update (Item 8.5) and WestInvest (Items 8.12 and 8.13).

Billabong Parklands Project

The Billabong Parklands project was part of what I believe was a rushed resolution relating to the City Deal. The resolution passed at an Extraordinary Meeting of Council on 28 August 2018, a meeting I was absent from. The meeting had one item on the agenda, to endorse the implementation plan for the City Deal and clearly identified all Councils in the deal - Campbelltown, Wollondilly, Camden, Liverpool, Fairfield, Penrith, Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains. Campbelltown was not unique and each of the 8 City Deal Councils were considering a similar report and recommendations at their own Council meetings in the week commencing 27 August 2018.

The Deal as adopted by the Council on 28 August 2018 had a significant number of commitments made to Campbelltown and the other 7 Councils involved, and I intend to work tirelessly to ensure that Campbelltown receives what it is owed.    

A fundamental commitment made by Campbelltown Council that day was to commit $3.75 million and accept a contribution of $15 million from the State and Federal Government ($7.5 million each) to build the Campbelltown Billabong at Apex Park, Bradbury under the Deal’s $150 million Liveability Program. The Liveability Program set out specific criteria that Council had to meet, and as detailed in the reports, the Billabong meets such criteria. The funding deed for the project was executed in May 2019.

In an online meeting on 8 December 2020, Council selected one of three options presented and resolved to increase Council’s contribution to the project by an additional $12.25 million bringing the total project budget to $31 million. Unlike the first meeting, the voting for this motion had 4 votes recorded against the increase, of which I was one.

In June 2021, Council received advice regarding the successful application for a grant of $4 million of which a total of $3.656 million was committed to areas of Apex Park that adjoin the Billabong Parklands site. I have been advised that the funding was applied for under the NSW Public Legacy Program, a program which required no co-contribution from Council. The objectives of this program was to stimulate local economies through the acceleration of the assessment and determination of local Development Applications.

The funding program provided very specific criteria relating to improvements to public open space and parklands, and could only be considered for projects that had progressed to a sufficient level of design in order to be eligible. At the time, the design of the areas of Apex Park that adjoin the Billabong Parklands site met this requirement outlined by the program and as such, was selected.

As the report highlights, the Billabong Parklands project will be delivered within the allocated budget by September 2023. While I believe that such a timeline is optimistic, I am sure that our professional staff understand how important this project is, and they will do all they can to achieve the stated targets. 

Some people have asked me if can we stop the project or revert it to the original budget? This seems to be the wrong question regardless of its answer. The question that should be asked is whether the Council should attempt to stop or scale back this project, and the answer to that question is a resounding NO.

On 8 December 2020, Campbelltown City Council resolved with a 10 - 4 majority to increase the project's funding and build the currently under construction Billabong. Council, on that day committed to the people of Campbelltown to construct this project. Just as we expect other levels of government to keep their commitments, we must keep our commitment to the people of our city, regardless of our personal views.

I believe that the decision to build and expand the Billabong Parklands project was made in good faith by the Councillors who voted for it, and that resolution should be respected.   

The Councillor Handbook 2021 states:

While councillors are free, subject to their obligations under the Council's code of conduct, to advocate a position on matters before the Council for a decision, once a decision has been made, they are required to 'uphold' the policies and decisions of the Council.

The requirement to uphold the policies and decisions of the Council should be read in the context of the implied freedom of political communication under the Australian Constitution. In practical terms, councillors remain free to speak about the policies and decisions of the Council, but they must accept and abide by them and must not misrepresent them.  

In my first Mayoral Minute, I highlighted that the Mayor and the Councillor are not only bound by the formal machinery of State as defined under the Local Government Act 1993 but also by the social norms developed through the wishes and aspirations of our residents for which the role signifies. The path laid down by our predecessors in Council who have contributed to those practices and expectations which we observe today.

Therefore, regardless of my personal view on the project, I believe any attempt to hinder this project would not be in the spirit of the Local Government Act 1993, the Councillors Handbook 2021 or my commitment to respect the Council resolutions that have occurred in the past. 

I also want to clarify an item that the report does not detail, the operational cost of the project after its delivery. It is unclear at this stage as to the exact yearly cost; however, a rough estimate would be in the magnitude of $2 million per year. 

This may seem like a high ongoing cost for the project. However, when we consider the size of the project which sits within a 4 ha site and incorporates a main swimming lagoon approximately 1,600 m2 in size, a smaller children’s pool, cascades, streams, a splash play area and amenities together with the associated maintenance and operations of a site of this scale and level of inclusions, it is not unreasonable.

Council subsidises the operation of many of our assets, for example, Campbelltown Arts Centre to the magnitude of $2.38 million, the Campbelltown Stadium to the magnitude of $1.62 million, our Leisure Centres to the magnitude of $3.01 million and our Libraries to the magnitude of $4.25 million (Net annual operational results FY21).

The approach to services that should be subsidised, or those that should be user-pay, is a much more complicated debate that we as a community should have in the future. I intend to include a few questions on this subject as part of the mayoral survey that is currently being developed. I look forward to engaging with the Councillors and the community to understand their views and expectations.

For now, I will be doing my best to ensure that the Billabong project will deliver its intended objectives to the people of Campbelltown within the new timeline and on budget. Together, we will continue to explore all options to minimise the operational costs of the facility or find alternative funding options to offset them, while ensuring the Billabong remains accessible for our residents.


The WestInvest is a Grant Program of $5 billion to be spent on infrastructure projects to enhance the liveability in the 15 Local Government Areas in the west and the south west of Sydney. The program has 2 distinct components, Significant Community Projects – Direct Council Allocation (Item 8.12) and Significant Community Projects – Competitive Grant Round (Item 8.13).

Significant Community Projects – Direct Council Allocation allocates $400 million to be directly given to the 15 local Councils based on their population size, to be spent on projects that meet the criteria detailed in the report. Based on its current population, Campbelltown Council has been allocated $26.615 million.

A different approach was taken in preparation for the spending of Council’s allocation, rather than building a flagship project like the Billabong, Council has selected to create as many small and medium-size projects across the Local Government area as feasible.

The project list detailed in the report, demonstrates an attempt by the Council to spread the improvement projects across the LGA and target these projects to address a diverse range of community needs and interests.

The projects were selected following deep community engagement through our many strategic documents and plans including our Community Strategic Plan, Community, Sport and Recreation Plans and Strategies and our Resilience Hazard Assessment.

The second category, the Competitive Grant Round allocates $1.6 billion to community groups, non-government organisations and local councils. To make the most of this competitive round and ensure that our community can secure their share of this funding, Council has put forward a diverse mix of projects to support a range of themes and benefits for our community including playspace upgrades, arts and culture projects, sporting field and amenity upgrades, amenity and safety improvements, traffic and connectivity enhancements, as well as upgrades to some of our town centres.

Through this round we are also supporting a range of applications that have been put forward by local community and sporting groups to undertake upgrades or new projects that meet the program’s criteria.

I look forward to hearing about the success of our applications and sharing this with both the Council and our community, and celebrating the commencement of these projects across our city in due course.

Advocacy Update

Due to the federal election and change of government, our advocacy efforts were put on hold. However, now that we have a new Cabinet, I have commenced writing to selected Ministers to seek a meeting and their support for our city.

I look forward to the next round of advocacy meetings and working with our new Strategic Advocacy Group when Council approves the terms of references. 

8. Sustainable Implementation of our City's Future

Date: 12 July

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 


In April 2020, Campbelltown Council adopted the Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre Master Plan, following the vision being launched at a special stakeholder event at NSW Parliament House and unanimously adopted by Council in July 2018.

The Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre Master Plan concentrated on the Campbelltown, Macarthur and Leumeah City Centres. It introduced an ambitious vision for a more liveable future that will leverage our city's growth to build resilience and reduce the impacts of climate change. 

The strategic plan introduced a framework developed from comprehensive research and public consultation with our community. The plans were drafted and tested and checked and redrafted with feedback from Councillors and the community. The Council engaged broadly with the community, our stakeholders and experts and gathered and interpreted essential data.

The plan included a unified vision for our city and set forward 6 growth pillars, 25 commitments, 10 city-making moves and 35 actions. Through these focus areas, commitments and actions, the plan provides a framework to inform decision-making into the future that is ambitious and measurable.

I encourage everyone to reread the document.

Council has been recognised for its collaborative approach to developing the Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre Master Plan, winning the Place-Based Collaboration Award at the 2020 Greater Sydney Planning Awards.

Reimagining is a guidance document for the future development of our city-centre but is not a regulatory document that did not change or enforce zoning or development control. The Campbelltown (Sustainable City) Development Control Plan 2015 and Campbelltown Local Environmental Plan 2015 cover such controls.

Since Reimagining, the Council has also undertaken significant strategic planning work in developing the Campbelltown Local Housing Strategy and the Campbelltown Employment Lands Strategy.

Also, substantial work has been undertaken in developing the South West Sydney Community and Justice Precinct and the Campbelltown Health and Education Precinct, both outlined in Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre Master Plan as key transformative projects that will significantly contribute to the activation and advancement of our city centre.

The NSW Government has also updated and introduced numerous regulatory planning policies through the Department of Planning and Environment, the Greater Cities Commission and the Western Parkland City Authority.

Actually, over the past few years, there has been an unprecedented strategic and visionary plan to work locally and across the Sydney metropolitan area. I believe the time has come to shift into the next phase.

It's time to move from (Re)imagining to implementing.

This is not an easy task. Council has to update its planning controls and internal and external policies to enable the growth of our city. Council has to partner with the NSW and Commonwealth Government, private enterprise and residents to deliver on our vision and commitment to the community. 

The Council must be pragmatic and flexible in its implementation phase; regardless of how good a plan is, changes must be made as it shifts into implementation. We must be committed to our vision and objectives but flexible enough to hear our partners' suggestions as we advance in the implementation journey.

I have asked the General Manager to accelerate development of the necessary policies to shift Campbelltown into the implementation phase and bring these to the Council Chamber as soon as possible. I look forward to working with my fellow Councillors and the community to achieve the vision and objectives we established in the Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre Master Plan.

Financial Sustainability

In the last few months, Campbelltown has placed the Budget set of documents, the Delivery Program and Operational Plan on public exhibition, received feedback, undertaken minor adjustments and adopted for 2022-23.

The Council budget includes projected total revenue growth from $189 million to $196 million, derived through grants, rates, fees, investments and other activities.

Notably, the area with the strongest revenue growth of 19.6 per cent or $1.4 million is anticipated from rental income, reflecting Council’s efforts to diversify its revenue sources and reduce reliance on traditional Council revenue streams.

In these Mayoral Minutes, I intend to discuss Council income in detail and the importance of increasing our revenue and decreasing our reliance on rates and grants as part of our Resilience Hazard Assessment and our ability to deal with financial shocks.

I started by looking at the Fit for the Future program instigated by the NSW Government in 2014 and the assessment methodology set by IPART as the Expert Advisory Panel appointed by the Government to assess all Councils across the state.

However, due to unforeseen time limitations, I could not cover the wealth of information that I needed to formal a clear view and instigate the discussion. We now have what the IPART and the Government intended to do and their rationale, as well as the benefit of hindsight and the ability to judge outcomes.

I will postpone the detailed discussion to my next Mayoral Minute. For this one, I will focus on only one financial sustainability aspect related to implementing our vision for the Campbelltown City Centre, as discussed above. The use of Council assets in the Campbelltown City Centre.

Campbelltown City Council has significant land holdings in the City Centre. Such holdings are a critical factor in the success of the vision and growth objective.

While I was not part of the Council that decided to purchase most of our assets in the City Centre, I believe they intended to use these properties to invest and revitalise our city.

However, such investment must be financially sustainable. It must return to our ratepayers a financial benefit that will help ease the burden that growth places on our city's finances. This is not an easy task, and several models can be used to achieve these objectives.

Council has explored a variety of ways to utilise our land holdings, including deriving an ongoing income from its valuable land assets, while retaining ownership.

An excellent example of such was the development of the under-utilised land on Farrow Road that is now home to a brand new Bunnings for our community through a long-term ground lease of the site, which is providing both local jobs for the community and financial returns for Council into the future.

However there are many other models that could be used to achieve such an outcome. We must have an informed discussion with our community and establish strong policies that ensure transparency and accountability.

I have asked the General Manager to start working on such policies and engage the Council and the community as soon as possible to ensure that we are prepared for the implementation phase that we are instigating.

Quiet Hour

I was recently impressed by the popularity of Council’s Quiet Hour initiative, as part of this year’s Chill Fest event. This initiative was brought to the Chamber in 2018 by Councillor Margaret Chivers, seconded by Councillor Ben Gilholme and supported by the Chamber. The initiative called for the incorporation of a ‘Quiet Hour’ or similar at all multi-day community events, to enable inclusive participation for people with disability, and their families and carers. 

This year we had applications from more than 339 groups, equating to more than 1200 community members registering their interest to attend. This is a significant increase from 2021, where we had 700 community members apply for the Quiet Hour session, which unfortunately wasn’t able to proceed due to the impacts of the June 2021 lockdown.

The initiative had similar success at the Festival of Fisher’s Ghost in 2019, where 803 community members participated.

The overwhelming response to this year’s Quiet Hour at Chill Fest has led us to work with our event partner, Joylands to expand the number of sessions so that all community members who applied could participate. This indicates that there is a need within our community that we need to acknowledge, and I look forward to working together to see how we can address this need in the future.

Advocacy update

I have recently written to the new Commonwealth Government seeking meetings to discuss important matters for our city and continue to advocate for opportunities for Campbelltown. I am also continuing to regularly meet with key representatives from Government, industry and community to continue to bring attention and momentum to a range of important advocacy topics.

I am pleased that the establishment of our new advocacy group is well underway and I look forward to bringing updates on this to the Chamber in the future.


As our city and neighbouring LGAs experience yet another significant and damaging weather event, our thoughts are with all of those who were impacted by the recent rain and flooding.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our emergency services, particularly the State Emergency Service and the volunteers who work tirelessly to protect our community and assist in times of need.

I encourage everyone to take care as they move around our region, and be patient as we, together with our neighbours in Camden, Liverpool and Wollondilly assess the impacts and the recovery effort and clean up continues.

9. Our City, Our Region, Our Future.

Date: 9 August

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 

I was recently invited to visit a local school to help share my insights into how the community, particularly young people, can help influence outcomes for their city. To set the scene and provide a platform for the discussion, I was advised that the students had prepared ideas and given speeches on several topics.

The ideas generated demonstrated our young people's passion for their future and their city. Some of these ideas that were shared with me included improving infrastructure and the appearance of buildings to make Campbelltown more appealing, creating housing affordability, initiatives to assist unemployment, and creating tourism opportunities through an Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre.

This highlighted how our young people's passion, creativity and ability to think outside the box could influence positive change in our city by providing a different perspective. As such, I have asked the General Manager to initiate the following two projects: establish an online Campbelltown Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre and launch the Your City, Your Future ideas competition.

Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre

Campbelltown is located on custodial lands of the Dharawal people, who have a strong and rich tradition and ongoing connection to the land. The Campbelltown Local Government Area is home to many sites of Dharawal cultural significance, including the Minerva and Jingga Pools, the Bull Cave and number of important meeting places and flora and fauna that is significant to our First Nations people.

Campbelltown is also proud to have one of the largest urban populations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in New South Wales and we undertake numerous activities to nurture and promotes the importance of our Aboriginal culture, including through our programming and collection at Campbelltown Arts Centre, our support of significant National activities such as NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week and Sorry Day, the Campbelltown Yarning Circle, a number of award and recognition programs, our Reconciliation Action Plan, consultation on major projects and initiatives and through important strategic plans and documents such as our Aboriginal Interpretation Strategy – Our Voice, Our Place.

A virtual Aboriginal Art and Cultural Centre will provide a central place that will detail our city’s Aboriginal history and culture, along with highlighting our current connection with the local Aboriginal community and our expanding community programs. The Centre will aim to showcase our city’s Aboriginal heritage and will also virtually educate and attract visitors from across the country and beyond, encouraging more visits and the promotion of cultural tourism in Campbelltown. 

I have suggested that, in the first instance, we will work with our local Aboriginal community and peak organisations to collect and combine all information into a central location and help leverage existing programs. We will also contact the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Linda Burney MP and the NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon. Ben Franklin MP seeking their support to expand the initiative and our ongoing Aboriginal programs.

Your City, Your Future

The second initiative is a new civic engagement activity that will call on bright, young minds from across Campbelltown to think big and share their thoughts with us. In the coming weeks, I will launch Your City, Your Future – an ideas competition that will call on our local High School Students to share their big ideas for the future.

We will acknowledge the top three ideas submitted, and in addition to promoting the ideas received, the students will be presented with a certificate and medallion. There will also be an opportunity for a class to workshop ideas as a group and enter, and we will also recognise the school that submits the most ideas.

I look forward to promoting this to our local high schools shortly, calling for online entries before sharing these ideas with Councillors and the community, and announcing the winners later this year.

Subject to the outcome of the competition and the interest and ideas we receive, I hope we will be able to embed the competition and youth engagement in our Community Engagement Strategy which is currently being prepared and will be brought to Council later this year for consideration and adoption.

Our Region, Our Future

According to the Minister for Cities, the Hon Rob Stokes, the (then) Greater Sydney Commission was established in 2015 with bipartisan support as a revolutionary model for metropolitan governance in Australia. The model intended to remove the disconnect between State and local government and overcome the difficulties of trying to plan for large cities without the coordination between these levels of government.

The Hon Rob Stokes highlighted these issues in the Greater Cities Commission Bill 2022 Second Reading Speech by saying:

On one hand, the State Government has disproportionate fiscal powers and service delivery responsibility for infrastructure and services like public transport, roads, health and education. It also has a broader interest in the economic and social progress of a much larger community over space and time. On the other hand, local government, with great restraints on its fiscal and political autonomy, has less capacity to help meet the State's broader objectives. Local communities that deliver housing and jobs growth shoulder the burden of growth, while investment in necessary infrastructure may not have been proportionate to manage that growth.

The Commission's intention was to coordinate the city planning efforts and bring together the efforts of State and Local Governments to develop the government's long-term growth objectives. The Commission developed the Greater Sydney Region Plan, which established a vision of Sydney as a Metropolis of Three Cities: Western Parkland City, Central River City, and Eastern Harbour City. The Commission’s remit was recently expanded to encompass the Lower Hunter and Greater Newcastle, Central Coast and Illawarra-Shoalhaven. The Commission is now known as the Greater Cities Commission.

The idea of the Western Parkland City spans eight vast local government areas: Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly. Covering an area of more than 8,000 m2, or two-thirds of Greater Sydney, the Western Parkland City will accommodate most of Sydney’s impending population growth to be home to over 1.5 million people by 2036.

The importance of the Western Parkland City and the building of Sydney’s new airport within it was further reinforced by the Western Sydney City Deal established in 2018 and negotiated between the Federal, State and eight local governments with significant involvement of the Greater Sydney Commission. In 2018 the Western City and Aerotropolis Authority was established (changed to the Western Parkland City Authority in 2020) to deliver, coordinate and attract investment to the Western Parkland City.

Regardless of diverse views about the merits of the comprehensive planning that has taken place in the last seven years since the establishment of the Greater Sydney Commission, I hope we can all agree that the high-level strategic planning for Western Sydney has been has come a long way and the broader interest of economic and social progress of Sydney has been considered and established.

Now I believe that attention must be turned to our sub-region or, more importantly for our city, to our region of Macarthur. We must pay attention to our local communities who are dealing with the delivery of the housing strategy and shouldering the burden of the State’s growth. Attention must be focused on developing the necessary social and physical infrastructure that our region needs to deal with this growth.

Macarthur is a significant part of Western Parkland City and consists of the three local government areas of Camden, Wollondilly and, of course, Campbelltown. Macarthur's population has increased from 291,684 in 2016 to 351,816 in 2021, an increase of 21 per cent in 5 years, and this growth is expected to accelerate to reach 558,317 in the next 15 years. The number of dwellings that are housing this population growth has increased from 94,071 in 2016 to 117,045 in 2021, an increase of 24 per cent and is expected to reach 170,685 in the next 15 years.

We know that around 63 per cent of Campbelltown workers leave our city every day for work, this is also consistent with the experience of our neighbouring LGAs Camden and Wollondilly. While the pandemic may have had some impact on reducing this, this situation needs to be rectified through a strong commitment of Government to bring a focus to the generation of local jobs.

I am sure many will join me in welcoming the growth of housing and economic activities in our areas and look forward to it continuing. However, to ensure the sustainability of this growth and ensure we continue to look after our natural environment and increase our liveability standards, we need to work collectively and with government, elected and appointed, to focus their attention on prioritising our regions needs.

Macarthur’s future and identity should not and cannot be lost in the bigger picture of Western Sydney growth strategy. We must demand attention and come together to lobby all levels and sides of government to receive our fair share of funding, jobs and infrastructure as we continue to shoulder our fair share of population growth.

I have written to the Mayors and General Managers of the Macarthur region, inviting them to a meeting where we can discussion opportunities to ramp up our combined advocacy efforts for the benefit of our region. I look forward to an open and productive discussion and I am sure we will be able to work together to influence better outcomes from our communities.

Advocacy update

Following the establishment of our Strategic Advocacy Group and adoption of the terms of reference, I am pleased to advise that our first meeting has taken place and was highly successful. Our members have provided a range of valuable insights and advice to strengthen our city’s advocacy efforts and I look forward to providing further updates as the group progresses.

10. Inspiration and limitation

Date: 13 September

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 

I am heartened by the ongoing debate this Council has had in the last few months. Councillors have been entering into what I believe to be a good-spirited debate about the roles and responsibilities of the Council and what we are and should be providing for our community. Our community is best served by having their Councillors engage in such debates, defining and redefining our roles and responsibilities as we strive to meet our community’s needs.  

Of course, we are not unique; the debates about the roles and responsibilities of Local Government are always ongoing, and the theoretical approach to Local Government discussion is always constant.

The tension in the discussion exists between the role of Local Government as the ability of elected political representatives to self-govern on the one hand and that of service providers on the other. Scholars argue that the tension between democracy and efficiency are reflective of tension between how councils originally evolved in Australia, by a decree of the state to regulate local resources or by a petition of the community to self-govern these resources.  

Interestingly, Campbelltown Council was the result of a petition to the Governor by prominent residents who wished to create a Municipality. The Governor granted the creation in 1882, and the first election occurred on the 23rd of February 1882. Nine aldermen were elected from which the first Mayor, John Ahearn took office.

Volumes are written about Local Governments in the Australian and international context. I hope to contribute to these debates in the future. Here I will only share some of the ideas that I believe to be the most important for making decisions in the best interests of the people of Campbelltown.

The first underlying principle that should always guide our decisions, as best argued by Wickwar (1970) is:

Since Local Government, like all public administration in the modern state, is essentially a creature of law, its political theory has been, to a large extent, identical with its legal philosophy. As such, a legal perspective on local government would assert that local government is simply what the law determines it to be.

Simply stated, council roles and responsibilities are best defined by the Local Government’s laws and regulations developed by the NSW Government. I previously highlighted that there are over 50 pieces of legislation that govern Local Government in NSW, providing scope and limitations that we will work through in the future.

While we, and Local Government NSW, actively advocate to the NSW Government on issues and legislation that we believe need to be addressed for the Council to deliver better for the community. We should not, we will not, and we cannot function outside the limits of the legal framework set for us by the NSW Government.

I hope my fellow Councillors will join me in this agreement and continue to work and advocate for our community to ensure our advancements within this complex legal framework.

Unfortunately, the next item in this Mayoral Minute is a NSW Government directive that I and many in Local Government disagree with. However, as I will explain, our decision was to comply with it, to ensure we do not disrupt our services or shake the trust of our community.

Accounting Treatment of NSW Rural Fire Service Assets

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) has been a significant part of the history and landscape of NSW emergency response and the lead combat agency for bushfires for over 100 years. The RFS works on risk management programs to reduce bushfire hazards, reduce fire ignitions and develop regulations for bushfire-prone areas to reduce the likelihood and consequence of fires occurring. The RFS in NSW works closely with other agencies to respond to structure fires, motor vehicle accidents and storms that occur within their districts.

We all must acknowledge the tremendous efforts of the NSW RFS, particularly the RFS brigades that operate in the Campbelltown LGA, and their contribution to safeguarding our community against some of the most uncontrollable natural disasters in our history.

There has been a long-standing dispute over the accounting treatment of the NSW RFS Red Fleet in NSW. The NSW Government determines the RFS assets are the “property” of councils and must be recorded in the Council’s financial statements, with the Council required to absorb all depreciation costs and risks associated with control of the assets.

Many Councils and Local Government NSW (LGNSW) disagree. Councils do not have any decision making power in acquiring, deploying or disposing of these Red Fleet assets. Comparable assets held by Fire & Rescue NSW and the State Emergency Service are not vested anywhere other than with the organisations that purchase, use, maintain and dispose of them.

The dispute escalated with the Auditor-General’s 2021 Report on Local Government, which has reinforced this position and is now applying pressure on councils and the Office of Local Government (OLG) to conform to this determination. The latest Audit Report has made further impositions on Council by:

  • recommending Council undertakes a stocktake of RFS assets and records the value in Council’s financial statements;
  • warning that if Council does not recognise the assets it will be found non-compliant and will have a high risk finding reported; and
  • calling on the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (OLG) to intervene where councils do not recognise rural firefighting equipment.

Should Council not follow the Auditor’s direction, and if the circumstances surrounding this do not change, Council will receive a qualified audit report. A qualification in relation to a set of year-end financial statements is a serious matter, with potential implications that include:

  • Significant reputational damage to Council, Councillors and Employees;
  • potential intervention from the Office of Local Government (e.g. a Performance Improvement Order);
  • lack of eligibility for certain grants; and
  • lack of eligibility for NSW Treasury low-cost loan initiatives.

I acknowledge the ownership of assets has a level of subjectivity and interpretation based on the differences between documented agreements and what happens in practice. On balance, Councils believe the RFS brigade assets control lies with the NSW Government. However, in the interest of complying with the Audit Office directive, Campbelltown Council will recognise RFS Red Fleet assets in the FY22 Financial Statements and continue to advocate for change.

We will continue to support the Local Government NSW (LGNSW) position and write to our local Members of Parliament, NSW Treasurer, Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and the Minister for Local Government, as well as the Shadow Treasurer, the Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and the Shadow Minister for Local Government:

  • Expressing Council’s objection to the NSW Government’s determination on ownership of Rural Fire Service assets;
  • Calling on the NSW Government to take immediate action to permanently address inequities and inconsistencies around the accounting treatment of Rural Fire Service assets by acknowledging that rural firefighting equipment is under the control and the property of the Rural Fire Service; and
  • Amend s119 of the Rural Fires Act 1997 (NSW) to make it clear that Rural Fire Service assets are not the property of councils.

Advocacy Update

We are coming to a critical time in the NSW election cycle, when political parties are formalising their plans and promises for the upcoming NSW state election in March 2023. As such, it is also a time when we must formalise our advocacy agenda as a Council and a community.

I have asked the General Manager to prepare a Campbelltown advocacy priority document, as we have done in the past, to be endorsed at the October Council meeting. The advocacy document intends to state our primary strategic direction clearly and what we hope the NSW Government will provide for us to achieve it. I look forward to that discussion and working with our colleagues in the NSW Government to ensure we get our fair share in the years ahead.

Unfortunately, all attempt to meet with Federal Ministers have not yet been successful. I hope that will change after the October budget update. I will continue to write and seek meetings to advocate for our community regardless of responses. 

I acknowledge that members of our community often work and use services outside our LGA, elsewhere in our region. I have recently met with the other seven Mayors of the Western Parkland Councils (Blue Mountains, Camden, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly) to talk about regional priorities and commonalities.  While we agree on some things, we disagree on others.

We will continue to use this forum to work through these issues. Regardless of the outcome of this forum, I will continue to work with my Mayoral colleagues from neighbouring Councils to improve the outcomes for our communities.

Actions Update

I have committed to numerous actions through my previous Mayoral Minutes and would like to provide an update on the progress.

Our enhanced City Cleansing Program, as part of our focus on city amenity and appeal, is well-underway. We recently took possession of a new hot water pressure cleaning truck, which will contribute to improving the everyday aesthetic and cleanliness of Campbelltown’s major central business districts. Under this program, we will increase our focus on road sweeping, litter collection, asset and infrastructure cleaning and improved weed control and landscape maintenance in the Campbelltown and Ingleburn CBDs.

Already this year we have completed a range of city enhancing projects including new play space upgrades at Bon Wrightson Reserve in Campbelltown and Colorado Reserve at Kearns, along with new fitness equipment at Harvey Brown Reserve in Blair Athol.

Beautification works at the corner of Dumaresq and Hurley Streets are also now complete, which included a series of car park, footpath and landscaping works. Works are also well underway on a range of streetscape improvements in the Ingleburn town centre, where we’re improving the appeal and aesthetic of this important centre with footpath and pavement upgrades and new plantings.

Planning has also begun for a range of new and upgraded play spaces that will be commencing soon at Leumeah, Macquarie Fields, Kearns and Ruse.

I would like to thank the Council staff for their efforts in undertaking these works and their commitment to this program that will enhance our city and neighbourhoods. I will continue to provide updates on these achievements as they continue.

11. First Catholic Mass in the Macarthur

Date: 13 September

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 

Sunday 1 September 1822 saw the first Catholic Mass in Macarthur, held on a wintry, wet and stormy day in Campbelltown, at the site of the present-day Mawson Park.

As a result of the rainstorm that faced Father John Joseph Therry and the parishioners, they made their way to the nearest building – the unfinished St Peter’s Anglican Church. While the Anglican rector, Thomas Reddall was not pleased with this, the matter went no further and remains an intriguing occurrence in our city’s history. 

Campbelltown continued without a Catholic church for many years. In 1825 a parcel of land on a hilltop overlooking Campbelltown at the corner of Broughton and George Street was donated, however it was many years before the church building was completed.

Father Therry offered the first Mass at St Johns on 27 July 1834 while the church was under construction. The construction continued until 1841 when the Church of St John the Evangelist was officially opened with a Solemn High Mass by Father Murphy, the Vicar-General of NSW.

Later, in response to the difficulty of parishioners to travel up the hill to attend the church, a better location in Cordeaux Street next to the presbytery was chosen and work began on a new building. The new church which was officially opened on 22 May 1887.

It was great to celebrate this important part of Campbelltown’s past and recount more than a century of history of St John the Evangelist Parish, Campbelltown at a special Mass of Thanksgiving on 28 August 2022.

I would like to thank the Most Reverend Brian Mascord DD and priests of the Diocese for the invitation to attend the concelebrated Mass and for the opportunity to recognise the 200th anniversary of the first Catholic Mass be celebrated in Campbelltown and the Diocese of Wollongong.

12. Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II

Date: 13 September

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 

Last Friday morning we learned of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our longest reigning monarch and the only one that many of us have ever known in our lifetime. The outpouring of emotion and sheer number of touching tributes and messages of condolence around the world are a testament to her legacy and the impact she left on the world.

As our longest-reigning monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presided over some of the most important moments of the 20th century and led both The Royal Family and the Commonwealth through a period of significant change that has shaped the role and functions of the monarchy in our modern society.

For many of us, Her Majesty held a special place in our hearts, not just for the longevity of her reign, but also for the great reverence she showed Australians. She was the first reigning monarch to visit our country and held us in particularly high regard, having visited Australia 16 times during her reign.

Her first and most famous visit, a whirlwind tour of Australia that took in an enormous number of Australian cities and towns in 1954 only a short time after her ascension to the throne, retains a significant place in our national memory.

And while Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip did not visit Campbelltown during their tour, I’m sure there were many residents who travelled to other parts of Sydney and beyond to celebrate her visit and catch a glimpse of the Queen.

In fact, an important piece of memorabilia, the Governor-General’s carriage which transported them to several locations around NSW, is preserved nearby at the NSW Rail Museum and I encourage everyone to visit and take in part of our history.

I know there are many people in Campbelltown who have been saddened during these past few days by the Queen’s passing. But it’s also a time to reflect on her reign and look forward with positivity.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne during the post-war years and was faced with the great challenge of defining the monarchy’s role in a changing world. Through her words and her actions, she became a unifying and much loved figure for people across all walks of life in many different places.

On behalf of our community, I offer our deepest condolences to His Majesty King Charles III and our best wishes for his reign.

13. Community Engagement, Advocacy and Strategic Planning

Date: 11 October

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 

In my previous Mayoral minutes, I spoke of the Council's role as a public administration and its legal limitation. The Council, however, must also deliver essential services and perform diverse functions for our community under such a role. I intend to return to this debate shortly as issues arise in the business.

 In this Mayoral Minute, I would like to cover three essential functions of the council, Community Engagement, our advocacy priorities and our ability to undertake strategic planning.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is the mutual respected communication and deliberation that must occur between the Government and residents, enabling the residents to actively participate in the formulation of Government policies and provision of services. The objective of resident participation is to give residents a degree of power and ultimately give them some control over decisions that impact them.

The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) measures public participation on five levels ranging from informing to empowering. Informing is when the government provide balanced and objective information to enable the residents to understand the problems, alternatives, and solutions. Empowering is when the government places final decision making in the hands of the residents.

Significantly influential works on public participation can be credited to Arnstein’s (1969) article “A Ladder of Citizen Participation”, which noted that the idea of resident participation is a little like eating spinach: no one is against it in principle because it is good for you. However, it also pointed out the critical difference between going through the empty ritual of participation and giving residents the real power needed to affect the outcome of the process. 

Community engagement strategies are often criticised as either tokenistic and lacking the requirement to make participation meaningful or as deficient and dominated by special-interest groups. These criticisms are less a function of the strategies, which are legally defined, and more a process of their implementation.

In the business paper, item 8.1, we introduce the Draft Campbelltown Community Engagement Strategy for public consultation, and I invite our community to provide their feedback on the strategy to ensure we are meeting their expectations.

I am committed to engaging with our community in a meaningful and empowering manner and ensuring that all our residents voices are heard, not only those of special-interest groups. Based on the community feedback on the strategy, we will work together to achieve an effective community engagement policy that addresses these issues and enables effective engagement with all of our residents.

An excellent example of our commitment to effective community engagement is our community consultation insights gathered through the recent engagement with our community and across our region regarding the South West Sydney Community and Justice Precinct, item 8.16. This engagement was undertaken across a variety of platforms and included a comprehensive survey and face-to-face engagement activities to seek input from the community to understand the community’s vision for the Precinct. Our engagement reached over 1 million people through e-newsletters, social media, signage, newspapers, and 11 face-to-face activities. Surveys were completed by 542 community members, providing invaluable feedback on the Precinct.

As a result of the effectiveness of our engagement, we now have another tool to use in our ongoing advocacy to the state and federal governments to establish the Community and Justice Precinct in Campbelltown.

Since I was elected to the role, I have been meeting with Ministers and Shadow-Ministers as well as Members of Parliament from the crossbenches to advocate for Campbelltown and seek support for our critical projects, including the Community and Justice Precinct. In the next section, I highlight our advocacy plan for the next six months.   

Advocacy Priorities

We are coming to a critical time in the political cycle, with less than 6 months to go until the state election. This is when political parties and local candidates form their policies and plans for the area.

We must engage with all political parties and election candidates and provide information about our community’s needs. As a first step, we have created Our Call for Support to the NSW Government Item 8.17.

We are seeking government support to:

  1. Connect Campbelltown: delivering infrastructure for one of the fastest growing regions in the country.
  2. Invest in jobs and services in our City Centre through the Community and Justice Precinct and establishing a Service NSW Centre in Campbelltown.
  3. Invest in Regional Infrastructure including:
    1. Campbelltown Arts Centre expansion
    2. Campbelltown Sports Stadium expansion
    3. Campbelltown Hospital expansion (stage 3)

This is only the first step. I intend to dedicate significant time over the next 6 months to continue with our advocacy program and again meet and re-meet with all sides of politics to ensure our voice is heard. I have freed up my personal schedule to ensure I have the time and resources to pursue a strong advocacy campaigning schedule.

The information and projects highlighted in Our Call for Support to the NSW Government Item 8.17 are not our only objectives but rather serve as a summary of a number of the significant projects that we are pursuing.

I have asked the General Manager to review all of our requests to the State Government in the last 12 years and highlight all the issues that we have not been successful in advancing. These items will also fuel our election advocacy campaign in the lead up to March 2023.  

Strategic Planning

The third critical role I want to talk about today is the council's role as a strategic planning authority. Council has had actual control over land use planning given to them under the Local Government (Town and Country Planning) Amendment Act (NSW) 1945, which was modelled on British planning legislation and provided a systematic, formalised approach to development.

In 1979, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EPAA) mandated public participation in the planning process and the need to coordinate the interests of public and private stakeholders in the development of council plans. Since its introduction, the EPAA has been amended more the 150 times and has more than doubled in size. These amendments have continued to erase democratic representation within the NSW planning system.

Council’s elected representatives lost the ability to approve or reject development applications in March 2018. That power is now vested in professional panel members that are selected mainly by the NSW Government. Since the amendment, Government argued that the community and the elected councillors were still playing a significant role in the strategic planning of their LGAs and that ‘the panel will free up Councillors to focus on the long-term strategic planning to lead the delivery of the region’s goals and priorities.

However, the Greater Sydney Commission, now the Greater Cities Commission, for the first time in Sydney’s history, has powers to compel council local plans to conform to their strategic district and metropolitan plans. The Greater City Commission’s Assurance Reviews have the effect of overriding council planning controls and powers.

We should not take this as a cynical approach to planning but rather as the state government's attempt to unify the decision-making process and create synergy in Sydney's strategic planning. As I have argued elsewhere, our planning panel and the Commission, just like most councillors before them, are community-spirited people who are interested in delivering the best outcome for the community and not for personal gain.

However, the risk in this post-political planning system is the overlooking of the essential characteristics of local places. This is the risk we are seeing in the latest discussion paper by the Greater Cities Commission, introducing the Six Cities Plan.

I commend the Greater Cities Commission’s approach in commencing the conversation through the discussion paper and on some of the key elements of the plan, including the embedding of the First Nations Voice, aspiration of universal digital access and fast data connectivity and the 20-year vision for the Housing supply, diversity and affordability, with the inclusive places linked in infrastructure ideology.

Campbelltown is home to a significantly large Aboriginal community, and we actively work to embrace our Aboriginal heritage and culture. We believe that including the identification and incorporation of First Nations’ peoples aspirations into the Six Cities regional plan is a crucial step to ensure this occurs across the cities.

While I welcome any action to bridge the digital divide in many pockets of Campbelltown and the Western Parkland City, I believe that we must also be looking at the connectivity and accessibility. Our Resilience Hazard Assessment identified that 14.8 per cent of households across Campbelltown did not have access to the internet at home, and 61.5 per cent of local students had difficulty accessing technology and devices including mobile phones and internet. We will continue to raise these issues with the Commission and the Digital Equity and Inclusion Office, which has been established within the Western Parkland Councils.

Council is currently undertaking a significant strategic planning review as we move to convert our city planning control to line with our vision of Reimagining Campbelltown, as I highlighted in my previous minutes. We have done significant work on realising our vision in the last few months, and I hope to introduce the next step in the next month's Mayoral Minute. I look forward to an informed discussion with the Commission and our residents about these plans, including housing diversity in our city.

I hope the Commission will hear our concerns in response to their Discussion Paper outlined in Item 8.15, including:

  1. Maintaining the centres hierarchy, particularly the importance of Campbelltown in the Western Parkland City.
  2. Acknowledging the strategic importance of Glenfield.
  3. Maintaining the Local Government’s voice and direct relationship between the Councils and the Commission in co-developing the City/District Plans.

We will continue to advocate for Campbelltown’s strategic importance in the Greater Sydney Region to be acknowledged through the Western Parkland City Authority, Greater Cities Commission and other government agencies.

Festival Activities

Over the coming months, we will be celebrating many of our much-loved community events as we head into a busy end to the year. The Festival of Fisher’s Ghost will return to the first weekend in November, after being disrupted by the pandemic over the past few years. There are a diverse range of activities and events planned and I encourage everyone to get out and about and enjoy the program.

I look forward to seeing our community spirit on show and celebrating our wonderful community and city.

14. Housing Affordability

Date: 8 November

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 

Local government has long been recognised as having a dual role: a local service provider and a democratic instrument of self-government. Over the years the democratic role of council has been diminished in New South Wales through the ongoing interventions of planning policies and council planning decision-making. Currently, we see a stronger focus by the Australian Government on housing affordability. I hope that this does not result in further diminishing of Council’s ability to self-govern and provide planning controls for its residents.

This month the Australian Government has released plans, as part of the October budget, to work together to fix the housing crisis. The Government has set an “aspirational target of one million new, well-located homes to be delivered over 5 years from mid-2024”. Under the plans, there is a target to deliver an additional 10,000 affordable dwellings with the States and Territories over 5 years. The Albanese Government has further committed to establishing a $10billion future fund to deliver affordable housing. The plan would mean "the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation would oversee construction of 30,000 homes as either social housing and affordable homes funded by a new Housing Australia Future Fund.”

While some politicians, scholars and jurists, including myself, believe that the federal government has no power or authority to intervene in cities' urban planning, the federal government have an undisputed interest in housing sustainability; especially housing affordability and the housing market's stability. What has been announced so far seems to be in line with such responsibility and a step forward in easing housing pressure. If the conversation of such fiscal policy translates to actual development, delivery would fall on state and local government. We must prepare for this in Campbelltown.     

The federal government have been investigating housing affordability in Australian cities since as early as the 1970s, with numerous committees and inquiries publishing reports on the issues, including but not limited to the National Indicative Planning Council for Housing which published a series of reports on housing affordability in the early 1970s, the Priority Review Staff Reports into Housing Costs in 1975 and the Committee of Inquiry into Housing Costs Report in 1978. More recently, the Productivity Commission 2004, the National Housing Supply Council 2009, and the Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability in Australia 2015.

The Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability in Australia (2015) stated that the federal government’s role is essential in securing housing for all Australians. The Committee asserted that the federal government have “a legitimate role, and indeed a responsibility, to use policy interventions to improve the efficiency, efficacy and, critically, the affordability of the housing market".

I applaud the Australian Government's commitment to housing affordability and the delivery of affordable housing. However, I hope they will resist the urge to intervene in the details of local urban planning to deliver their aspirational target. Perhaps, a more effective approach, I believe, is to move away from complex deals and rather provide councils direct grants to update their policies and planning instruments to enable the delivery of the ambitious targets under the existing grant structures.    

Any plans to increase Sydney's housing supply will impact Campbelltown. We must be ready to deal with future growth. We must plan for a denser city. But we also must continue to fight for social equity and ensure we receive our fair share of infrastructure investment to support such growth.

Firstly, I want to highlight that we are doing our fair share of having social and affordable housing in Campbelltown. Early this month, I had the pleasure of attending and participating as a panellist in a Mayoral Summit on Affordable and Diverse Housing hosted by the City of Sydney.

The summit highlighted the growing housing affordability issue in Sydney and the importance of creating affordable housing closer to where employment is located. Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, pointed out that less than 1 per cent of the Sydney LGA’s housing stock is social or affordable housing, and their plans to help grow their stocks through development contribution under the provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979 and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021.

Campbelltown has participated in developing the Western Sydney Affordable Housing Strategy, drafted in 2021 through the Western Sydney Planning Partnership and in May 2022, endorsed preparing an Affordable Rental Housing Strategy for the Campbelltown LGA. As a result of these strategies, Campbelltown Council will be able to negotiate affordable housing contributions if it chooses after completing its affordable housing contribution scheme in 2023.

However, it is worth noting that currently, we have 8.7 per cent of all our housing stock as social and affordable housing, which is significantly higher than the average across NSW and Greater Sydney. What Campbelltown does not have, as I highlighted previously, is adequate employment for all of its working residents. Currently over 62 per cent of our resident workers leave the LGA every morning to attend work in other LGAs. 

I fear it may be an easier target to increase social and affordable housing in Campbelltown and other fringe metropolitan councils, where land cost is relatively cheaper, and there is less community resistance to significant housing development. That will compound the problem and again move affordable housing away from where it's needed and away from the major employment hubs, for political ease. 

One of the reasons Campbelltown has not completed its affordable housing strategies is because we must review and update our strategy to incorporate the Department of Planning and Environment’s 17 approval conditions. One of these conditions is to increase our housing target range for 2021-2026 from a range of 4,700 – 8,200 new dwellings, to a range of 7,100 – 8,250 dwellings by 2026.

Campbelltown's lack of housing diversity makes it difficult for many people to find suitable accommodation and enter the housing market. Council policies enacted during the 1990s have contributed to this lack of diversity and robbed generations of access to affordable home-ownership. While that is not reversible now, I intend to explore these issues in future writing to enable us to learn from our mistakes and highlight how the road to bad policies is sometimes paved with good intentions.

For now, we must move on and ensure we are creating the housing diversity required for a Metropolitan Centre and ensure we have opportunities for our future generations. This is not an easy task. We have a complex planning system with complicated approvals required to amend our planning instruments, constantly changing state government planning requirements and, sadly, uncooperative government departments.

Several critical strategies to achieve our housing and diversity targets have been held up for years, including the NSW Government’s Glenfield to Macarthur Corridor Strategy, which our community was invited to comment on in 2015 and has yet to reach a logical conclusion. The Ingleburn CBD LEP amendment and the Glenfield Place Strategy are all parts to complement the strategy and are currently on the way independently of the overall progress of the NSW government policy.

As I highlighted above, the risk we are facing is the growing housing pressures. The federal government will want to increase the housing supply and pressure the state government to accelerate housing approval. We are an easy target and could see our city's density and housing targets again increase significantly without the proper planning and, more importantly, the supporting infrastructure.

Of course, development approval is not the only factor contributing to increased cost of housing. There are a range of factors including the financial system, availability of credit, taxation, material supply chains, material costs, labour shortages and infrastructure prioritisation and delivery, which all contribute to the housing affordability. I hope the government will also consider these issues.

Councils have not been bystanders and must acknowledge that we have played a role in the delays to development in our cities, whether on a strategic or approval level. I will not attempt to justify these issues in Campbelltown. Instead, I will confirm that the General Manager is significantly improving our position and is currently undertaking a review of the organisational structure, a resourcing plan and a recruitment process to deal with these delays.

I hope to bring to the Chamber and to the public, the plans for how we will deal with the city's growth in the very near future and the details about some of the non-traditional roles that our Council may have to undertake to activate and revitalise our main streets and CBDs.

Financial Position 

The other role that council provides is that of a local service provider. In this business paper we see Council’s Annual Report and 2021-22 Annual Financial Statements.

I’m pleased that we continue to maintain a strong financial position exceeding all benchmarks for statement of performance measures. We are building further diversification in our operating income through multiple sources including a commercial property portfolio and numerous significant successful grant applications. In FY21/22, $41.4m, or 20 per cent, of Council’s operating income was from grants and contributions.  We received $24m from the (previous) Australian Government and $10.5m from the NSW Government, with the remainder received from developer and other contributions.

In this current financial year, the NSW Government recently announced our success in securing $26.615m in WestInvest funding under the non-competitive local government allocation. This funding will support delivering great spaces for our growing community including transformation of Campbelltown City Centre, Macarthur Recreation Trail from the Australian Botanic Garden to Campbelltown Station, Simmos Beach Parklands, Glenfield Urban Bike Park and a range of walking paths and outdoor fitness facilities right across the Campbelltown Local Government Area. These projects will enhance our suburbs and provide opportunities for our residents from all walks of life. We will eagerly await an announcement of any further WestInvest funding under the competitive round, later this year.

Over the coming year, we will work to decrease our reliance on grant funding as such funding may be unsustainable as the economic and political environment changes. We must continue to strive to be self-reliant and minimise our exposure to the increasingly volatile economic and political conditions on the horizon. Campbelltown is well-positioned to utilise its asset base not only to revitalise and grow the city, but also to return a substantial benefit to our community. This will also be explored as we develop our plan for the future.

Disability Inclusion Action Plan and Domestic Violence Strategy

I am pleased to see the culmination of two important bodies of work, with the Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) and the Domestic Violence Strategy being presented to Council for consideration.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our staff and Councillors who have championed Council’s response to these critically important issues within our community. I would particularly like to acknowledge Cr Margaret Chivers and former councillor Ben Gilholme for their contributions in this space and for continually highlighting matters such as these in the chamber to ensure they are addressed through our plans and policies.

Ending domestic and family violence is a challenge that requires a whole-of-community approach and by working together, we can help give a voice to survivors and take real action towards ending domestic and family violence.

We also have a responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion in order to enhance the experience of people in our community living with disability. Through the DIAP, we have a clear plan to ensure we are delivering on our commitment.

Thank you to all the community members and stakeholder groups who contributed to the preparation of these important plans, I look forward to sharing our achievements with the chamber and the community in the future.

Festival of Fisher’s Ghost

This month we kick-off our festival season with the return of the Festival of Fisher’s Ghost. The festival began in 1956 and has been a much loved fixture on our annual calendar of events ever since. It is jam-packed with events and activities including the carnival, twilight street fair, outdoor events, music concerts, and arts and cultural activities.

We are committed to continuing to deliver this important festival for our community and will continue to seek feedback and engage with our community to ensure it continues to be a fantastic event, now and into the future.

15. Acknowledging the contributions of our Deputy Mayor

Date: 15 November

Recommendation: That the information be noted. 

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Councillor Warren Morrison who has dutifully filled the role as Deputy Mayor since January 2022.

During this time Cr Morrison has actively advocated for our city, attending community events, forums and opportunities to celebrate all that is great about Campbelltown. He is a well-respected leader in our community, and his passion is evident in everything he does.

His support has enabled many successful events, from sports and recreation to business, arts and culture. His connection with the community and community leaders is a testament to his commitment to his role as both Deputy Mayor and Councillor.

I would like to thank him for fulfilling the role of Deputy Mayor with such passion and for supporting me during my first term as Mayor. Cr Morrison has been an enthusiastic and committed Deputy Mayor and will no doubt continue this passion for Campbelltown as a Councillor over the coming years. 

16. Thank You and Looking Forward to 2023

Date: 13 December

Recommendation: That the information be noted.


I would like to first start by thanking the Council Staff, Management, and Councillors for all their hard work this year. 

As we started the recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic, we were hit with unprecedented rainfall. While we were lucky not to suffer any significant flooding events like many other councils across the state, the rainy weather has caused considerable damage to our road infrastructure.

We continued to deal with the project deliverable backlog resulting from the lockdown and supply chain issues as best as we could under such rainfall. We are focusing on ensuring we can get back on track as soon as possible.

I intend to deal with the details of what we have achieved early next year, once all the data has been collected.

Today. I want to share a few quick numbers to highlight the foundation we are laying for delivering the vision of the Campbelltown of the future: the capital of opportunity and culture for the Macarthur Region, a city that is designed for people, ambition and innovation.


We have undertaken a robust program of advocacy to make representation to the state and federal government on critical issues facing Campbelltown now and in the future. We wrote over 150 letters to Ministers and Shadow Ministers in both governments and have successfully engaged with NSW Ministers and Shadow Ministers in more than 30 meetings.

We have also successfully secured $45,775,201 in grant funding from the NSW Government and $2,065,290 from the Federal Government. We are hopeful that we will also receive further funding under the NSW Government’s WestInvest program later this month.

We have established several alliances with neighbouring Councils and we have been working effectively with them to advocate for our local government areas’ mutual interests and the benefits of the greater region.     

We have also established the Strategic Advocacy Group to advocate Council’s position with the federal and state government and key stakeholders for Campbelltown’s Community and Justice Precinct and other catalytic projects in the Campbelltown LGA, as endorsed by Council in June 2022.

I intend to continue our advocacy program, and we will continue collaborating with other councils in the region to achieve a better outcome for our communities.

We have several key projects that we’re calling for the NSW Government and Opposition to support, in the lead up to the March 2023 election, as endorsed by the council in the October meeting, including the Community and Justice Precinct and essential transport connections. We must continue to work hard to ensure they are on the following election priority list for all political parties.   

Advocacy cannot be and will not be our only priority to achieve the sustainable growth we aspire to. We must prepare the legal framework for such a change to ensure that our residents and city prosper.  As an organisation, we also need to resource ourselves to align with delivering our vision for our city.

LEP Review

We have recently developed and/or endorsed the following as preparatory material to guide the growth of our city:

  • Campbelltown Community Strategic Plan
  • Resilience Hazard Assessment
  • Integrated Place-Based Transport Strategy applying the Movement and Place Framework
  • Net Zero Strategy
  • Bankable Feasibility and Investment Strategy
  • Voluntary Planning Agreement Policy
  • Active Transport Plan
  • Hurley Street Streetscape Master Plan
  • Unsolicited Proposals Policy
  • Structure Plan for the City Centre
  • Transformation Scoping Study for Bow Bowing Creek
  • Place and Experience Plan for the City Centre
  • Glenfield Precinct Plan and Glenfield Development Control Plan

We have also contributed to a variety of other strategies including the Western Parkland City Blueprint, Regional Economic Development Strategy, Six Cities Region Plan Discussion Paper, Western Sydney Destination Management Plan and TfNSW’s Future Transport Strategy as well as a variety of internal policies and frameworks that will enable us to deliver a sustainable city. 

This year we have also tested and trialled a variety of programs and interventions to revitalise our CBD including Streets as Shared Spaces, Festival of Place, Public Art and Street Appeal Program. 

This extensive program continues the work of previous studies including: 

  • Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre Master Plan and Campbelltown-Macarthur Place Strategy
  • Local Strategic Planning Statement
  • draft Local Housing Strategy
  • draft Employment Lands Strategy
  • Stage 1 Master Plan for Community and Justice Precinct

In today's meeting, we note the intention of the Council to now combine all of this knowledge and commence the review and amendment of the Campbelltown Local Environment Plan 2015 (CLEP 2015). We will be receiving quarterly updates on the progress of the review.

I am excited about the review process and look forward to the quarterly progress and update report.

This is a critical junction in the development of our city and will knit together all the urban planning work that has been done not just by the Council but also by the State Government to deliver a comprehensive legal framework.

Over the last few years we’ve also had private Planning Proposals and significant Development Applications from the market. This engagement has been spurred by the vision clearly articulated in Reimagining Campbelltown and distilled through the subsequent pieces of work. Engagement with the private sector will continue in parallel with the LEP review.

An LEP review is not easy and requires significant effort and strategic thought, but it's an important task we must undertake as soon as possible. Our intention is to initially focus on the Campbelltown CBD and then work through the rest of the city.

I look forward to a detailed discussion of the LEP review process and all the supporting policies and strategies we are working on early in the new year. 

Community Engagement

In October we also endorsed the draft Community Engagement Strategy and placed the strategy on public exhibition. As we noted in the Community Engagement Strategy, we intend to continue to engage with our community in a number of ways, including public forums, to ensure we deliver constructive, considered and meaningful consultation with our community. 

I look forward to deepening the engagement with the community next year including the launch of our new public forums.

Return of festivals and events

The return of major festivals and significant events in the city has been a welcome change from the previous few years. We have seen the return of Ingleburn Alive, Campbelltown City Challenge Walk, Chill Fest, NAIDOC, FEAST, Fisher’s Ghost Festival and Fun Run. I am also looking forward to the return of our New Year’s Eve event at Koshigaya Park.

It has also been nice to see community groups returning to gather together in our public spaces and undertaking their own diverse festivals and events.

I want to thank all the event organisers and the Council staff for their hard work getting these events to be a safe and enjoyable feature of our city.

As a growing city, we must invest in better facilities that can easily accommodate significant festivals and events. I have asked the General Manager to investigate creating further suitable spaces in our city for such events.

 Merry Christmas

With the festive season upon us, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish our staff, Councillors and our community a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope everybody has a restful and safe break.

I look forward to continuing our momentum in 2023!