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ALGA turns up heat on referendum

Following the announcement that there would be no referendum on Indigenous recognition at the next election, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is putting increased pressure on the Federal Government to take action on the issue of constitutional recognition of local government.

President, Felicity-ann Lewis has called on the Australian Government to establish a Parliamentary Committee as the next step towards a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government.

“ALGA has long maintained that the only way to protect direct federal funding for community services and infrastructure is to have local government recognised in the Australian Constitution and we are keen to work with the Commonwealth on putting in place the conditions for a successful referendum,” Mayor Lewis said.

During a meeting with Mayor Lewis last month, Minster Crean said that the Government would consider establishing a Parliamentary Committee based on a proposal put forward by the ALGA Board for progressing the issue of constitutional recognition. This follows an undertaking by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to hold a referendum on the financial recognition of local government by 2013.

“I have written to each political party, including the Independents, asking them to support ALGA’s proposed way forward on constitutional recognition of local government, including a Parliamentary Committee,” Mayor Lewis said.

“As part of our proposal, we are also seeking a federally funded community awareness program that educates the public regarding the Constitution, constitutional change and the local government question,” Mayor Lewis said.

“ALGA acknowledges the need for support from all sides of politics to ensure maximum success for a referendum proposal and we are seeking to ensure that all parties support direct funding of local government and have firm commitments to promote the sustainability of local government.”
Local Government Focus wrote to the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport about the recent media coverage of the issue.

A spokesperson for the Department responded as follows: “The final report of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government was released on 22 December 2011. The Government is considering the report and is likely to settle its response next month.

“The Government continues to be committed to constitutional recognition of local government and will support a referendum that is likely to be successful.”