Fight for recognition continues

President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Councillor John Campbell believes that 1998 is shaping up to be a very important year for Local Government.

"A Federal election is likely with a major issue being taxation reform," he said. "ALGA will be looking at the fine detail of every proposal and its potential impact on communities. All political parties are on notice, we will be making our views known about any proposed change to the tax system deleterious to Local Government and local communities."

However, John Campbell added that the ALGA was pleased with results of the recent meeting of the Local Government Ministers Council.

"Agenda items presented by ALGA on tax reform, particularly taxing corporatised Council owned operations, were well received," he said. Councillor Campbell said that the Constitutional Convention scheduled for next month provides a further opportunity for Local Government.

ALGA has written to all Convention delegates and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman urging that at least one day be set aside for discussing wider changes to the Constitution beyond that of Head of State.

"I believe the Convention delegates have the foresight and vision to not waste this coming together, by setting a process in place to deal with other Constitutional change, including recognition for Local Government," he said.

Pointing to the fact that Local Government continues to be frustrated by not being included on the Environment Ministers and Planning Ministers Councils, John Campbell said that when the question was asked recently why Local Government would not be part of the State/Federal liaison group for implementing Greenhouse gas reductions, the answer was Local Government is not in the Constitution therefore it is not invited!

"This makes me doubly determined to ensure we achieve Constitutional recognition," he said. "The States are notorious for putting their own needs well ahead of Local Government."

John Campbell advocates an ongoing process to raise the status of Local Government in all communities and its importance to the process of governance in Australia.

"We need to educate communities about our role and then proceed with a campaign for Constitutional recognition, protecting Councils once and for all against arbitrary acts by State and Territory Governments," he said.