New Ministry provides renewed opportunities for Local Government
There have been some extraordinary developments in Federal politics since my column last month. We have a new Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, and we now have a Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, who will work with the Hon Warren Truss MP, who continues as the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and the senior Minister in the portfolio area. We also have a Minister focused on cities, the Hon Jamie Briggs, Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, who will work with Minister Hunt in the Environment Portfolio.
The new Ministry provides a renewed opportunity for Local Government to influence an evolving Australian Government agenda on the Reform of the Federation and Reform of Taxation processes, and ALGA looks forward to working with the Government on these priority areas.
Regardless of the shape of Federation or taxation reform, the key issues still remain for Local Government. As a whole, Local Government continues to face challenges in the area of financial sustainability. We seek to be as efficient as possible in delivering services and infrastructure but that is not enough to overcome the gap between our income and expenditure. A fair share of national taxation is needed for Local Government to undertake the roles and responsibilities that are required of us and that the community expects of us.
It is also critical to ensure that any reform to the Federation or taxation going forward strengthens Local Government, not weakens it. The relationship between the Commonwealth and Local Government must remain stable and enduring for the benefit of all local communities. It’s a relationship that delivers not only for local communities but also for the national interest.
Our communities expect their local representatives to work in partnership with their state and Federal representatives to deliver the services and infrastructure they need. Our challenge in intergovernmental relations is to meet those expectations. To that end, Local Government will need to be at the table and involved in any discussions about the future of the Federation, and in ensuring our communities are best served by all three spheres of government. The new leadership in Canberra offers that opportunity and I will be pursuing it strongly in my meetings with Prime Minister Turnbull and his new team.