Message from the Minister

National Awards for Local Government 2005

The National Awards for Local Government for 2005 were launched on 2 May and I would encourage as many councils as possible to enter. The Awards play an important role in promoting best practice in Local Government across a wide range of functions from engineering and planning to promoting cultural diversity and healthy lifestyles.

If your council has successfully developed and implemented an innovative program in recent years I would encourage you to enter it into at least one of the 16 categories of the National Awards. There are some different categories this year. The seven major categories and 16 awards are as follows.

  • Sustainable Development with one award – Innovation in Regional Development
  • Community Capacity Building with four awards – Strength in Diversity; Strong and Resilient Communities; Strengthening Indigenous Communities; and Youth Engagement
  • Community Services with three awards – Health Services; Planning for an Ageing Community; and Valuing and Promoting Quality Child Care
  • Engineering and Infrastructure with two awards – Transport Engineering and Asset Management
  • Environment with two awards – Local Greenhouse Action and Integrating Biodiversity Conservation into Planning and Management
  • Management Practices with three awards – Performance Improvement; Information Technology; and Increasing Women’s Participation
  • Community Business Partnerships with one award – Community Business Partnerships.

Entries close on 10 June and can be submitted online at Category judging is due to be completed by 27 July with the overall national winners to be announced in November in conjunction with the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly.

I would also like to encourage you to visit the Department’s web site to look at the national and category winners from past years. The web site contains a wealth of information on a wide range of policies and programs that have been successfully implemented to the benefit of the councils concerned and more importantly the residents of the communities served by those councils. There is more information about some of the previous award winners in this edition of National Perspective.

Financial Assistance Grants

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Financial Assistance Grants – the direct payment of untied grants to all Local Governments from the Australian Government.

In 1974–75, $56 million was provided through the Financial Assistance Grants, a relatively modest amount compared to this year’s $1.5 billion. By the end of 2003–04, $22.6 billion had been provided to Local Government through this programme.

This funding aims to strengthen Local Government and bring all councils up to the same capacity to provide services. It represents about nine per cent of Local Government revenue, however for some councils it is more than 50 per cent of their revenue – usually rural councils with a small rate base and population relative to their service responsibilities.

Local Government National Report 2003–04

A full report on the Financial Assistance Grants is provided each year in the Local Government National Report. The Report for 2003–04 is due to be tabled in Parliament shortly and will be sent to all Local Governments throughout Australia soon afterwards.

This year the Report will have a chapter focusing on the ageing of the Australian population and the impact this will have on Local Government. There is also a chapter on Local Government in Germany to compare and contrast with the local governance situation in Australia.