Tensions between country mayors and the local government minister have seemingly simmered down after a "refreshing" series of face-to-face meetings.
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Local government minister Ron Hoenig made his first ministerial trip to regional NSW last week to meet with mayors and speak at the Western Division Councils of NSW annual conference in Cobar.
His visit to the region follows a war of words which erupted between himself and Narromine council mayor Craig Davies in June over budgeted increases to the emergency services levy.
"To hear the rant of Minister Hoenig is to listen to the voice of arrogance," Cr Davies said at the time, slamming the minister's response to a question on the challenges faced by local governments.
"He's unworthy of his very privileged position and will damage this government and relations between Local Government and the Ministers. What a shame."
But after meeting minister Hoenig last week, Cr Davies has changed his tune.
"Despite the comments that the minister has made previously, we left that meeting very positive - his message was positive and he really wanted to understand the issues we face in western NSW," he told the Daily Liberal.
"It was probably the most refreshing perspective I've received from any local government minister since I've been mayor."
As well as meeting with the Narromine mayor, minister Hoenig sat down with Bogan Shire Council mayor Glen Neill and Warren mayor Milton Quigley.
Cr Davies said some of the major focuses of his meeting with minister Hoenig included water allocation and planning laws around housing.
"In the last drought in 2019 there were 39 sites across western NSW that were days away from running out of water and having water trucked in," he said.
"There needs to be a reallocation of the natural water resources which sit within western NSW so that these communities can have the confidence to continue to grow and build their industries and be prosperous."
The pair also touched on the issue of compensation for councillors and mayors in the bush.
"I can't say that all mayors work like I do but I do around 40 hours a week most weeks, for that I get paid $38,000 a year. I'm digging into my savings to continue to operate," Cr Davies said.
"I don't believe that mayors or councillors should be overpaid but mayors should be paid a living wage. As long as we can get by, most of us are happy.
"If you compensate people properly you'll get the right people"
At the Western Division Councils of NSW annual conference, minister Hoenig spoke about the importance of the local government sector in representing communities in regional NSW.
He also acknowledged some of the challenges facing local councils in the region, including financial sustainability and cost-of-living pressures.
Member for Barwon Roy Butler also spoke at the conference.
"I spoke at the conference about creating a more effective partnership between regional councils and government, one that ... is based on a more equitable model of distributing resources and delivering services to the bush," he said.
"Many local councils already have solutions to issues that affect their communities but they need to do it in a strong, reliable, collaborative relationship with the state government."
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