Health and Housing Issues Papers released for comment

Article image - Health and Housing Issues Papers released for comment Mayor Troy Pickard, ALGA President

The second and third Issues Papers developed to inform the Commonwealth Government’s White Paper on the Reform of the Federation were released in mid-December.

Issues Paper 2, Roles and Responsibilities in Housing and Homelessness, while largely focussing on the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the State and Territories, also discusses Local Government’s involvement in this area.

It explores the policies of States, Territories and Local Government that have directly influenced housing supply; including land release, land planning and zoning, stamp duty and land taxes.

The paper also acknowledges Local Government’s involvement, in some instances, in the provision of community housing and importantly, that the provision of community housing by not-for-profit organisations can result in lost rate revenue for councils as such organisations seek rate exemptions.

The regulation of planning and construction approvals by Local Governments and the variation in these approvals is also addressed.

Issues Paper 3, Roles and Responsibilities in Health, discusses the role that all levels of government the Commonwealth, States and Territories and Local Government, have in being responsible for health services; be it as funders, policy developers, regulators or service deliverers.

The varied and important roles performed by Local Government in this field, from ensuring and retaining general practitioner services and enforcing food standards to the delivery of preventative health and immunisation services are recognised.

The paper acknowledges that Local Government plays a small but important role in funding health care, providing around $388 million in 2012–13.

The recognition of Local Government’s involvement in these areas is important.  While not “traditional” Local Government responsibilities, it is vital in the Federation debate that Local Government’s delivery of a vast range of services is part of the discussion and helps build a picture of the diverse involvement councils have in their communities.

The Australian Local Government Association will be reviewing these Issues Papers and providing comment on them and I encourage all councils to think about their own involvement in these issues and what they want to see in terms of reform in the forthcoming Green Paper.

There are further Issues Papers covering Education and Federal Financial Relations, while the Green Paper setting out options for reform is expected to be released in the second half of the year, ahead of the White Paper in early 2016.

The Issues Papers are available on the Reform of the Federation website