Mayor Tracey Roberts President Western Australian Local Government Association – President’s comment
In these challenging times, Western Australian local government has shown its resilience and ability to collaborate.
When the pandemic evolved into an imminent crisis in March this year, Western Australian councils immediately prioritised the most vulnerable members within the community. We saw neighbouring local governments rallying together to provide aid and support.
WALGA has further enhanced the spirit of collaboration by spearheading various communication channels with other spheres of government.
The weekly State briefing to the sector webinars gave our member councils the opportunity to engage with the State Government, Police Force and other agencies.
WALGA’s COVID-19 response team took on the task of disseminating the latest information from the National Cabinet meeting, and studied the ever-changing state and federal restrictions to provide clarity for the sector.
To foster a greater sense of cooperation and learning, WALGA initiated the Local Government Showcase webinar series, featuring presentations from local governments on their pandemic response.
The topics included staff redeployment, community initiatives and economic recovery.
In the area of economic development, WALGA underwrote access for members to the VendorPanel Marketplace local supplier management platform. It allowed local governments the ability to readily engage a local supplier market and showed support for local businesses by providing new opportunities to access contracts.
The Association also represented the sector across a significant number of agencies and committees, including the State Recovery Advisory Group, reflecting the scope of local government operations and its connectivity with the community.
Such extraordinary efforts in responding to the pandemic have proven to be effective – but it is not over. The focus has now shifted to recovery, in the immediate and long term.
To be at the forefront, WALGA has developed a key advocacy document titled Rebooting local economies.
This document highlights the $512 million in financial relief and direct economic support from the local government sector – an astounding effort in the absence of the federal Jobkeeper program.
It also proposes the State Government support a capital and maintenance work program worth $514 million, including investment in shovel ready projects across the state to provide immediate economic stimulus to support recovery.
The strategy has been provided to the State Government for consideration as it develops the State Recovery Plan and the State Budget in October.
Through what has been a very challenging year as a sector, Western Australian councils continue to demonstrate their commitment, loyalty and support for communities. Importantly, the Association will advocate and promote the sector’s strengths through the next phase of recovery.