Councils champions for our regions

Immediately preceding the National General Assembly, some 270 delegates attended a full day Regional Cooperation and Development Forum staged by ALGA and National Economics.

Using the theme, 'Foundations for Rural Communities' delegates were addressed by a number of keynote speakers. They included Dr Peter Brain from National Economics; Dr Ed Blakely, New School University New York; and Dr Tom Forgan, CEO of the Australian Technology Park.

The 'State of the Regions 1999 Report' was also launched during the Forum. In addition, best practice case studies on sustainable regions were presented, as well as a review of the recent Regional Summit, convened by the Commonwealth Government.

Then Senior Vice President of ALGA, Councillor John Ross, in summing up the proceedings, said that the future always arrives but it is how we prepare for it that is vital. Referring to the growing disparity between the regions, he said those not doing well continue to slip backwards.

"From Forums such as this, we can learn from those doing well which can assist areas that are struggling," Councillor Ross said. "Local Government has a central role as advocates for the social capital of our regions. Enormous gains are to be made if we tap into best practice models.

"Ensuring our local workforce has the necessary skills is vital. If the skills are not there, we have nothing saleable." Referring to Dr Forgan's key message that 'intellectual capital is at our doorsteps', John Ross said that Local Government must be the 'champions for our local communities'.

"Regional economic development is very much a key part of Local Government," Councillor Ross said. He urged delegates to go home and deliver this vital leadership.