I have spent the past few days of this week in Canberra attending a wide range of meetings with Ministers, Federal Members, backbenchers and senior ministerial officers, including a meeting with the Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey MP, and the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann. These meetings focused on an extensive agenda of the issues currently facing local government and I believe the discussions were productive in raising Federal awareness of these issues. I look forward to keeping you updated in the coming weeks of any developments that come out of these meetings.
While I was in Canberra, I also had the chance to address delegates at the Regional Development Australia (RDA) National Forum on Wednesday. I took the opportunity to highlight local government's priorities and the important role local government plays in regional development. I also shared observations on ways to strengthen the relationship between the regional leaders of RDA and local governments.
I reiterated the importance designing future funding initiatives at the Federal level to complement existing regional institutional arrangements wherever possible, and that every effort should be made to formally engage with the appropriate local government authority, whether individually or through a regional organisation of councils model.
I also pointed out that any future regional development program or Federal or State policy initiative designed to assist regional communities must recognise the leadership and implementation role played by local governments, particularly in cases where these initiatives are designed to specifically focus on the delivery of local and regional community infrastructure that underlie sustainable local communities.
There are no magic bullets when it comes to delivering regional development programs to meet the substantial challenges facing Australia's diverse regions, but a strong working relationship between RDAs and local government is absolutely essential so that together we can continue to work with regional communities to deliver what they need and deserve.
Mayor Troy Pickard