Message from the Minister

Once again it is a great pleasure to be in contact with everyone involved in Local Government in Australia through this edition of National Perspective.

This edition includes a range of articles describing Federal Government initiatives that will be of interest to Local Government. Especially important is the fact that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has commenced the review into the Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995. Details of the review are included in this National Perspective.

The latest information about the National Awards for Innovation in Local Government and an update on last year's winner of the National Award is in this edition.

It also contains some interesting articles about the need for a fair go for rural and regional Australians and what the Federal Government is doing to achieve this aim. The Government can better deliver services and raise standards of living in country Australia by developing a wider understanding of the problems that people face in the bush.

In March, Regional Development Ministers from around Australia and the Australian Local Government Association were involved in a meeting convened in Canberra to discuss how all levels of government can collaborate on programmes and services for regional Australia.

The meeting, a commitment from the Regional Australia Summit held in October last year, set up a taskforce to help work through some immediate and concrete opportunities for improved collaboration and cooperation between all spheres of government. This included areas of shopfront service delivery, regional leadership development and one stop shops.

A very successful way that the Federal Government is putting services back into many small communities throughout Australian is through the Rural Transaction Centre Programme (RTC). This Programme aims to ensure that people in small communities have a range of basic services that many people take for granted.

I am delighted that the first RTC in South Australia was opened , in the offices of the District Council of Barunga West at Port Broughton on 7 April. My colleague, the Member for Grey, Mr Barry Wakelin MP officiated at the opening ceremony.

The District Council of Barunga West received $120,000 from the Federal Government's $70 million, five-year RTC Programme to set up the RTC. The RTC will provide much needed banking, Medicare easyclaim and other services in the area. So far over 200 towns nationwide have been assisted under this programme.