Canberra receives councils’ message

The Local Government Association of South Australia’s two-day delegation to Canberra has highlighted both the need to streamline the interaction between the spheres of government and areas where more research and information needs to be gathered.

LGASA President, Mayor Kym McHugh, led the 25-member delegation of mayors and chief executive officers to Canberra to meet with the Federal Government, the Opposition and Independent Members of Parliament to remind federal politicians of the importance of South Australia to the nation.
“South Australia was well represented on this trip,” President McHugh said. “Delegates provided a cross section of local government in South Australia — from small, medium and large councils, both metropolitan and rural.

“Some have the Murray-Darling Basin Plan firmly in their sights, others are facing climate change adaptation management and disaster management issues, others have concerns about the level of funding for immunisation programs.

“All issues and interests were well represented and we achieved what we set out to do: to showcase SA Local Government, warts and all; to discuss the space we are in and must continue to occupy; the issues we are facing and the politics that have to be worked with.”

President McHugh said the clear message from both the Government and the Opposition is that money is in short supply.

“It is very clear that there is no pot of gold,” he said. “So we have to look at working smarter and more efficiently. We have to look at where we can partner with the state and federal governments and where we will have to bite the bullet and go it alone.

“This visit has certainly given us a greater insight and understanding of the issues facing the current and future Federal Government and it was a timely visit … sort of an early intervention into the minds of our policy makers while political agendas and programs are being put in place for the next federal election.

“Our group approach has achieved a greater awareness, at the federal level, of our concerns, but we have some work to do as well to gather more and better information to press our case in the areas of waste management, climate change, immunisation and other issues.

Concluding on a positive note, President McHugh said, “We have been reassured that the federal door is wide open to us and we are encouraged by the tremendous hearing we have had and the information we have received from the Government, Opposition and Independent Members that we have met during our visit.”