WALGA’s first Convention

Having formed as a single organisation in December 2001, the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) recently held its first Local Government Week Convention in Perth. The theme was Local Government – Heartbeat of the Community.

The five day event, which ran from 2 to 6 August at the Burswood Convention Centre, focused on a number of topics including Local Government roles, relationships and good governance. In his opening address, outgoing President of WALGA Councillor Ian Mickel delved into a number of issues ranging from road funding, State/Local Government Partnership Agreements to the future for Local Government in WA.

“Roads are the backbone of Australian communities, and funding for local roads from both the Federal and State Government in Western Australia is continuing to decline,” Councillor Mickel said.“It’s absolutely essential that the Federal Government recognises the importance of our road network, not only to our economy but also the wellbeing of our communities.”

He said that if the sale of Telstra went ahead, a significant percentage of funds should go to road funding. In his address, WA Premier Dr Geoff Gallop called for the formation of key partnerships between State agencies and Local Government.

“It is crucial that as State and Local Governments, we work together to ensure the growth of communities happens in a connected way to other communities and to the outside world,” said Dr Gallop.

On the issue of public liability, the Premier announced that a risk management and public safety awareness campaign was being developed for businesses and communities. It is planned that the campaign will be done in cooperation and consultation with Local Government, as well as businesses and community groups.

President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, Mayor Lynn Mason, outlined to delegates the various partnership arrangements Local Governments in Tasmania have with the State Government, under the Premier’s Local Government Council and Partnership Agreement between Tasmanian State and Local Government.

“There is a need to provide space in all negotiations for the Councils that have a different view from the ‘Local Government’s position’, without self destructing on the sword of local political agendas,” said Lynn Mason. “Partnerships are in our best interests, and those of the State. Neither sphere is going to go away in the immediately foreseeable future, so we might as well get on with getting on with each other.”

Local Government Week 2002 Convention also saw the election of a new WALGA President, Councillor Clive Robartson from the City of Melville.

“Western Australia is a vast State with many different issues and challenges,” said Councillor Robartson.“Our Association must continue to remain relevant and provide leadership and strategies that adequately address the needs of both regional and metropolitan Councils. Local Governments will increasingly face the need to ensure all local decisions are sustainable, not simply economically, but also socially and environmentally. This issue will be at the top of the Association’s political agenda.”