Local Government’s Important Role in the Federation and Taxation White Paper Processes
If the Australian Federation had a report card it would read ‘reasonable performance, however room for improvement’.
In general terms, most of us agree that the current arrangements between the three spheres of government require modernisation and it is for this reason that the Australian Government has announced two White Papers – one on Reform of the Federation and one on Taxation.
The White Papers will be completed by early 2016.
The debate about how governments work together will be a major priority of Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), and local government more broadly, over the next 18 months.
This is the first in a series of regular columns that I will use to keep the local government sector informed of developments in this process.
It is vital that councils across Australia engage in the discussion and provide their views to the Task Force responsible for developing the White Papers.
It is important that the role of local government, in delivering crucial local services and infrastructure, is understood and that tax revenues are allocated between the spheres of government to ensure they can meet their respective responsibilities.
ALGA will be taking the lead in presenting a whole of local government perspective to the Task Force.
I believe, however, that it is also important that individual councils get actively involved and make submissions on the Issues Papers which are being released for public comment over the next few months, and on subsequent Green Papers which will explore options for reform when they are released in the second half of next year.
ALGA wants to ensure any change to the Federation strengthens local government, not weakens it, and that the relationship between the Commonwealth and local government remains strong for the benefit of all communities.
The first Issues Paper, A Federation for our Future, was released in September.
As subsequent issues papers are released, dealing with health, education, housing and homelessness and federal financial relations, ALGA will continue to review and comment on these important discussion documents.
I encourage councils across Australia to participate in this process.
It is vitally important that other spheres of government hear the collective voice of the local government sector.