National General Assembly of Local Government - What the politicians had to say
What the politicians had to say
The Hon Warren Truss MP
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Minister Truss said that there is currently an unprecedented opportunity for government to rethink the way it does business and serves the community.
“The Government is providing the forum to discuss change through our White Papers on the Reform of the Federation and Taxation.
“Our Federation has served our national well for over 100 years and shown some flexibility to deal with issues of concern over the years.
“But the balance of constitutional responsibility and revenue raising capability has becoming increasingly grotesque.
“It would be better if States, and Local Government, did not have to keep demanding more money from the Commonwealth for services they have the constitutional responsibility to deliver.
“Reforming the Federation is vital if we are to deliver our publicly funded services to the Australian people more effectively, more efficiently and more fairly.”
Minister Truss urged attendees to engage with the process where possible.
“Make no mistake, this Coalition Government is committed to local government, but you must also make a constructive contribution for yourselves, not just about what you want from other tiers of government, but also what you can contribute as partners in the task of government in this country.”
Minister Truss also spoke at length on federal funding opportunities for local government including the Black Spot Programme, the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Programme, Round Two of the Bridges Renewal Programme, Round Two of the National Stronger Regions Fund and the new Stronger communities Programme.
“For 175 years local governments have played a vital role in the life of our nation.
“What started as Adelaide Corporation in 1840 to enable colonial governments to deliver local services, particularly building and maintaining roads, has grown to 560 local councils continuing to maintain roads in addition to managing social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.
“Local government is a valued partner in the Government’s drive to achieve greater productivity and economic strength across the nation and for the benefits to be realised at the community level.”
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Leader of the opposistion
Leader of the Opposition the Hon Bill Shorten MP spoke to delegates on day two of the National General Assembly about the value of communities in a digital age and the role Local Government played in building people-to-people links between Australia and Asia.
“Fifty-two years ago, Yamatotakada City and the town of Lismore in New South Wales became ‘sister cities’, the first such partnership between Australia and Japan.
“Today over 50 communities across our nation share such a partnership with Japan alone.
“You are ambassadors and economic drivers for Australia, you’re leading, not following.”
Minister Shorten also committed a Labor government to a number of promises regarding infrastructure, eliminating family violence and getting more women involved in politics.
“I believe the future liveability, sustainability and productivity of our cities is a key responsibility of the Commonwealth.
“Labor is a party who believes in the role of the Commonwealth to assist our cities grow.
“A Labor Government will, appoint a Minister for Cities, reintroduce the Major Cities Unit, reconvene the Urban Policy Forum and ensure the State of Australian Cities report is published annually.
“My Shadow Minister for Cities, Anthony Albanese has already convened an Urban Policy Dialogue, an informal gathering of policy and industry experts and stakeholders from across Australia.
“And when it comes to improving our cities, there is no better tool at our disposal, no more vital lever for the Commonwealth to pull, than investment in infrastructure.”
Minister Shorten said that this time would be looked back on as a tipping point for family violence.
“Now I know that local government in many parts of the country are tackling this issue.
“It might be my state-of-origin bias showing, but I’m especially conscious of the efforts of the Municipal Association of Victoria, whose focus on primary prevention and professional development is a model we could roll out across the country.
“In March, I wrote to the Prime Minister, calling for a National Crisis Summit on Family Violence, a gathering of experts, law enforcement, social service providers, levels of government and, above all, survivors, the people who have seen the faults and flaws of our current system from the inside.
“A Labor Government will hold this summit in our first 100 days.”
Minister Shorten also encouraged more women to stand for local politics.
“The challenge is to encourage more women to run, to convince more women that local politics is a forum where they can make a difference.
“This responsibility, driving cultural change, is on all of us who serve: federal and local, women and men.
“There is nothing for us to fear, or to lose, from the march of women through the institutions of power.
“There is everything to gain.
“Friends, I’m a believer in local government.”
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment.
Minister Hunt Addressed the Assembly on day three, and spoke about the environmental opportunities currently available to councils under the Emission Reduction Fund.
“Local governments are familiar with opportunities to reduce emissions, such as capturing gas from landfill or vegetation management activities.
“In fact, many of you have already taken advantage of these opportunities and are running projects.
“The release of new methods under the Fund means local governments can take further action.
“Local governments could be eligible to receive funding for a range of projects, including improving building energy efficiency, capturing gas from domestic wastewater facilities and reducing emissions from public transport.
“The Government is focused on developing more methods and new opportunities will be coming on line shortly.”
Minister Hunt also Spoke about the Green Army projects available to councils.
“Local councils around the country have the lion’s share of Green Army projects.
“The positive support shown at the local level has been fantastic.
“We have 102 local councils acting as project hosts for the Green Army involved in some 215 projects.
“And I expect those figures to rise substantially when we announce the Round 3 projects shortly.
“Anecdotally we’ve heard projects are exceeding expectations.
“I spoke with the Queanbeyan City Council earlier this year and they mentioned they were apprehensive at first about applying for a Green Army project, yet the quality and efficiency of the Green Army team’s work prompted them to apply for more projects.”
Minister Hunt closed by saying that we cannot sustain economic growth without clean air and clean land.
“I would urge you to continue your involvement with the development and roll-out of the National Clean Air Agreement, the Emission Reduction Fund, the Green Army and the e- waste scheme.”