Celebrating our future

In officially opening the 4th National General Assembly of Australian Local Government, Governor General, Sir William Deane, congratulated the Australian Local Government Association on its Golden Jubilee. He said that the Assembly theme, 'Celebrating our Future', highlights past achievements and provides a basis to look ahead.

With an annual budget in excess of $10 billion and employing 150,000 people, the Governor General said that Local Government is certainly big business.

"Delivering services affecting every child, woman and man, Local Government touches, directly and constantly, the day to day experiences of every citizen," Sir William said.

He praised the efforts of some 300 Councils that, through ALGA's Civics Program, are conducting local constitutional conventions to assist their residents in understanding issues to be debated at the Constitutional Convention proper, scheduled for early next year.

"Though I do not wish to enter the debate myself, I warmly support any steps that will ensure the debate is well informed," he said.

Now a tradition at the start of the General Assembly, Wally Bell delivered the Indigenous welcome on behalf of the Ngunawal Nation.

"I welcome you onto our mother earth," he said. "Land to Aboriginal people is regarded as our mother, where we have come from and where we will return. Under Aboriginal law, any visitors to our land are made welcome."

Wally Bell said that Local Government has been prominent in its support of Indigenous issues, particularly on Stolen Children and Native Title.

"Local Government can lead the way in the Reconciliation process, spreading the message in local communities so we can move forward together," he said.