Message from the Minister

I am pleased to bring you this special issue of National Perspective which showcases the winners and commendations from the 1999 National Awards for Innovation in Local Government. Local Government can be proud of the quality of entries for these Awards. With a record-breaking 338 entries this year - 98 more than last year - this year's entrants were competing in a high calibre field.

All entrants deserve congratulations, and I would particularly like to congratulate all the category winners and those that received commendations. Picking winners is always a difficult task.

Special congratulations go to Ipswich City Council on winning the overall National Award and Cabonne Council on winning the National Rural Award.

The Awards are an effective way of publicising and promoting the level of innovation in Local Government and sharing councils' expertise and knowledge with their peers.

The Awards provide recognition and also a forum for demonstrating leading practice amongst councils. I am particularly encouraged by the growing number of rural entries - an indication of Local Governments efforts to take a leading role in service provision and regional development.

The recent Regional Australia Summit, held at Parliament House in Canberra, was a great success. The Summit brought together government, business and community leaders to look at current challenges in regional Australia and to suggest workable solutions.

Local Government was well represented at the Summit and made an important contribution to both the Summit and its workshops. The messages that were received from the Summit will be taken forward by a steering committee which is now being formed. I urge you to read the communique from the Summit at www.dotrs.gov.au/regional/summit.

Since the last issue of National Perspective the first Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) was launched at Eugowra by the Prime Minister. This was closely followed by the opening of the St Mary's RTC in Tasmania. This important initiative is gaining momentum with another four RTCs expected to open their doors in time for Christmas and three more early next year.

1999 has once again been a busy year for Local Government. I wish you all the best in meeting the opportunities and challenges that the new millennium provides. I also wish you and your communities a peaceful and safe Christmas and New-Year.