ALGA welcomes House of Reps decision

After a lengthy period of inactivity, the Federal Government has taken the next step towards a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government.

The President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Felicity-ann Lewis has applauded the Government’s call to establish a Parliamentary Committee to consider constitutional recognition and how best to run a referendum on the issue.

The Government’s motion to establish a 12 member Joint Select Committee was carried by the House of Representatives on October 31st, making a referendum at the next election just that bit more likely.

Following the announcement, Mayor Lewis commented that, “Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave an undertaking when coming to office in 2010 to hold referendums by the end of 2013 on both constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and constitutional recognition of local government.

“Despite the Government’s recent decision to defer a referendum on Indigenous recognition, ALGA will continue to work with the Commonwealth on putting in place the conditions for a successful local government referendum, which will ensure that important federal funding for local communities can continue,” Mayor Lewis said.

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.

“ALGA is seeking an amendment of Section 96 of the Constitution so that it would read: ‘Parliament may grant financial assistance to any state or local government body formed by or under a law of a state or territory on such terms and conditions as the Parliament sees fit’,” Mayor Lewis said.

“The report of an expert panel, established by the Government to explore the need for acknowledging local government in the Constitution, recommended last December that our case for financial recognition was a viable option.”