From the politicians:
The Hon Paul Fletcher MP
Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government
Minister Fletcher spoke on day two of the conference, highlighting the Coalition’s focus on innovation and the recently announced Smart Cities policy.
“As Australia transitions from the mining boom, innovation will be key to providing new opportunities, new jobs and new sources of growth,” said Minister Fletcher.
“Local government has much to gain from an innovation agenda, both in terms of more efficient service delivery, but also services that better match the needs and wants of the community.”
The Minister highlighted the work of the Digital Transformation Office – the body responsible for promoting digital innovation within the federal government – which he said is “looking for solutions to some of the problems that plague digital services for all levels of government.”
The Minister also outlined the main item of the Coalition’s pre-election offering to local government: its Smart
“The program will make available $50 million in grants, to be allocated through a competitive selection process. The funding will support local governments in applying innovative technology-based approaches to improve the liveability of cities and their suburbs,” said Minister Fletcher.
“As we noted in the policy document, councils are at the forefront of service delivery and are increasingly required to meet rising expectations of service on restricted budgets.”
The Hon Julie Collins MP
Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Local Government
The Shadow Minister addressed delegates on the third day of the conference, announcing an elected Labor Government would “restore the relationship with local councils”.
A firm pledge to restore the indexation to Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) from 2017 was welcomed by ALGA.
The Shadow Minister also announced Labor would reintroduce the Australian Council of Local Government (ACLG), to be convened on an annual basis.
“This won’t be a talk fest – it will be a serious working meeting to discuss our relationship, national priorities and how the Federal Government and local government can work together,” said Ms Collins.
Ms Collins also outlined Labor plans to introduce a $10 billion infrastructure financing facility through Infrastructure Australia and to increase the participation of women in local government.
Also on the cards under a Labor Government is $20 million in funding for local government plebiscites to be held in New South Wales to settle the issue of amalgamations, said Ms Collins:
“While Labor will start to restore the relationship with local councils by reintroducing the Australia Council of Local Government, we will also restore the link between local councils and their communities and give ratepayers a genuine say in how their councils
Resolutions passed at the National General Assembly are available online at alga.asn.au/site/misc/alga/downloads/events/2016NGA/2016_Resolutions.pdf