President’s comment – Councillor Linda Scott President Australian Local Government Association
As the world maps a recovery from COVID-19, communities are increasingly recognising the key role councils are playing in creating jobs and supporting local communities by leading a locally led economic recovery.
On behalf of councils, your Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has been highlighting the work local governments are doing to create employment, driving a locally led recovery, and advocating to ensure local governments are able to deliver on the expectations of our communities.
One example among many is the City of Mandurah’s entrepreneurial capacity-building program, which is identifying and encouraging locals to start new businesses and inject money into the local economy.
During COVID-19, Council developed next-level courses to help previous participants assess their on-going business models and identity and address gaps.
The Federal Government has listened to ALGA’s advocacy, and as a result the Federal Budget has recognised local governments are powering this recovery, proving an additional $1 billion in funding for Local Roads and Community the Infrastructure (LRCI) program so that it can be extended a further year.
The money – together with $250 million in new funding for Building Better Regions, and $600 million for a new National Recovery and Resilience Agency and National Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Program – will enable councils to help Federal Government meet its Budget goal of putting ‘a four in front of the unemployment rate’.
Importantly, the funding will allow many councils to build new community assets, upgrade worn out roads, or rejuvenate old community facilities.
That all translates to our communities having improved access to sport, recreation and cultural activities, and being able to take advantage of more and better transport and mobility options.
Councils are also poised to make a major contribution to the development of a more circular economy in which better waste management leads to a greater recovery of valued resources, creates jobs, protects fragile ecosystems, and reaps economic rewards.
However, our financial sustainability remains a concern.
The Australian Local Government Association, backed by its members, is making a strong case for adequate state and federal funding support to back councils so they can orchestrate a locally-led economic recovery.
The Budget outcomes show we are cutting through.
There is much more to be done, however, which is why ALGA has planned a forward-looking National General Assembly of Local Government on 20-23 June. I hope to see your there as we shape the recovery.