Recently Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appointed me as Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government. This is the first time for some years that there has been a Minister whose title includes specific reference to local government.
There are at least three important reasons why the Turnbull Government has chosen to underline the importance of local government in this way.
The first is to explicitly and formally recognise the vital role that local government plays. The sector is an important part of our national economy, employing 188,900 people and annually spending $32.7 billion in providing services to Australians according to 2013-14 ABS statistics.
The second important reason for this decision by the Turnbull Government has been our ambition to demonstrate a better integration between all three levels of government. When Australians engage with government, nothing annoys them more than buck-passing and finger pointing between different governments. Of course it is true that different levels of government have different responsibilities – but all of us have a responsibility to work together to deliver the best possible outcomes for citizens and residents.
A third reason behind the establishment of a portfolio with specific, stated responsibility for local government is because of the important nexus with the Turnbull Government's priorities when it comes to cities and infrastructure. As Prime Minister Turnbull has made clear, he sees a renewed role for the Commonwealth in working to support and plan for the growth of our cities – which collectively in 2011 contributed $854 billion to our national economy according to the Infrastructure Australia audit issued earlier this year.
Read the full article by Minister Paul Fletcher at this link.