LGANT meets in Alice Springs

Welcoming delegates to the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT) General Meeting, hosted by Alice Springs Town Council on 17 and 18 April, President Alderman Kerry Moir said that this was likely to be the last such meeting in its present format.

With the amalgamation process now in full gear, the Territory’s current 62 Municipal and Community Government Councils will be reduced to 16 on
1 July. Eight of these are new ‘super’ Shires, each serving a number of remote townships and communities, and now including large areas of land not previously administered by Local Government.

“Change is almost upon us,” Kerry Moir said. “We have had many battles. Some have been won and some lost but, throughout, LGANT has fought to
preserve the independence of Local Government.”

She said that there is now a great concern over the level of proscription to be enforced on Councils by the NT Government.

“We must not give the Territory Government any excuse to place further levels of proscription on us and work to convince the Government to reduce proscription in the future,” Kerry Moir said. “The reforms are not over yet. There are issues concerning shared services, IT and staffing to be resolved and only ten weeks before the go light.

“All of us need to make this new Local Government system work, to move on and make the sector stronger. We need to work together and listen to each other to provide the level of services all our constituents deserve.”

She said that a key element of this General Meeting was deciding the format and role for LGANT in this new era to ensure it remains a strong advocate for Local Government in the Territory and, through the Australian Local Government Association, at the national level.

Local Government Minister, Rob Knight has been in this role since February following the resignation of Elliot McAdam. He told delegates that the reform process aims to improve service delivery and meet the needs of people right across the Territory, particularly those in remote communities.

“Local Government reform has introduced additional workloads and created uncertainties,” he said. “As well as this, the Australian Government Intervention Program has been happening at the same time.

“Various Ministers had talked for some years about the need for reform particularly for remote areas. Elliot McAdam took action and I intend to build on this work to deliver quality Local Government and agency services right across the Territory.

“Local Government, if properly resourced, is best placed to provide those services at the local level.”

He said that the NT Government had recently pledged an extra $5 million to support the eight new Shires.

Many Councils carry out numerous agency services for the Territory and Australian Government in areas such as childcare, aged services, night patrols, power, water and so forth. The Minister said that renegotiation of these roles must ensure that the services provided are fully funded and revenue neutral for the new Shires.

“I acknowledge the work of the Local Government Advisory Board and Transitional Committees for the new Shires,” Rob Knight said. “But things will not stop on 1 July, they will start. The Government has shown leadership to drive change – people have to make this reform their own.”