Council Winter 2022

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COUNCIL

A WORD FROM THE AUSTRALIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION

ALGA WELCOMES NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT by Linda Scott, President of the Australian Local Government Association

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orking with councils around the country, ALGA has secured billions of dollars in funding for Australian communities from our new Federal Government. This includes a $750 million expansion of the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, as well as a commitment to “fair increases” to the Financial Assistance Grants that many councils and communities rely on. We successfully advocated for a new $200 million per year disaster mitigation funding program that will help us protect our communities from increasingly frequent cyclones, fires and floods, as well as $400 million to improve regional mobile phone coverage. Our collective advocacy also resulted in ALGA being appointed as a full voting member of National Cabinet for the first time, following the Morrison Government’s decision to abolish the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). We couldn’t have done this alone, and I want to thank all of the councils that advocated for more support by passing motions in their council meetings, writing to local candidates and MPs, and speaking to their local media. I’m excited about the future of local government, and look forward to working with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his government, but our work isn’t done yet. Our number one priority is restoring Financial Assistance Grants to at least one per cent of Commonwealth taxation revenue. These untied federal grants support every council and community, and have slid over time to just 0.55 per cent of tax collected by the Federal Government. Following fires, floods and COVID-19, we need these federal grants increased more than ever, to ensure that every council remains sustainable, and every community is a liveable one.

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Increasing these grants to one per cent would provide councils with an additional $2.3 billion next year, supporting every Australian community. Our new government has committed to continue applying indexation to these grants – at a minimum – but we look forward to seeing the government's commitment to fair funding deliver further increases over time. Last month’s Federal Election was in many ways a referendum on climate change, and it’s clear there’s an expectation from our communities that governments act decisively on their behalf. Councils are already active in reducing emissions at a local level, but we could do so much more with sustainable funding support. Housing affordability is another ongoing concern for our communities, and we look forward to working with our new government to deliver more affordable housing across our country. This month’s National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra will be our first opportunity to gather post-election, and discuss how we will partner with our new government to ensure no community is left behind. I know many of you will be attending this year’s event, and I look forward to seeing you there, and hearing what you think ALGA’s priorities should be over the next 12 months.

Cr Linda Scott is President of the Australian Local Government Association, the national voice of local government, representing 537 councils across the country.

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