"On top of the membership you've got the cost of councillors going to their conference — $80,000 as an average cost to belong to the body — and if that body is resisting any kind of change and reform ... it's not a body I want to spend ratepayers' money on being part of," deputy mayor Andrew Jefferies said.
In a mayoral minute supported by all 11 councillors at last Tuesday's council meeting, mayor Michelle Byrne said this year's local government conference was "a very sad indictment on the state of our representation".
"Should LGNSW fail to lift its standards and become a worthwhile industry body, I believe this council should seriously consider whether or not it is worth being a member," she wrote.
"Instead of hearing ideas about how we will adapt to the changing nature of our industry, all I heard was fierce opposition to the idea of local government reform.
"As the peak industry body, LGNSW should not be opposed to change and reform when it is needed most.
"At times, when the conference should have been debating and deciding issues of significance to our industry, there were lengthy delays in adopting standing orders, hearing continual points of order, and disputing whether or not motions had been passed because decisions were based on a 'show of hands' rather than by using the electronic voting system."
A motion was moved by Cr Byrne and seconded by Cr Jefferies to receive the minute and authorise the mayor and deputy to speak with other mayors and deputies regarding future membership.
"We'll be talking to Hornsby and Hawkesbury [Councils] to start with . . . to explore a joint pull-out," Cr Jefferies said.
There was a half-hour discussion of the mayoral minute during which Cr Alan Haselden suggested a third motion, also supported, to "communicate this mayoral minute to Local Government NSW as an expression of its real concern at the content and conduct of this conference".
LGNSW president Keith Rhoades said as it was the first conference since the Shires and Local Government associations merged, the format may need a "tweak".
Cr Jefferies said: ‘‘We’re talking about not just the conference, we’re talking about the direction this body is taking.’’
■ A Hornsby Council spokesman said: ‘‘Hornsby Council agrees that local government needs to be reformed and that councils across the state must be more proactive to help bring about these essential changes. We believe the best way to convince other councils of the need for reform is to continue engaging with them at events like the conference.’’
■ The Hills Cr Ray Harty said: ‘‘I think we should be very careful about wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water [and] stay in and agitate to make sensible change that makes it [the LGNSW] function."
■ What do you think?