The Hon Bill Shorten MP's announcement last weekend of his new Shadow Ministry saw the appointment of a new Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Mr Stephen Jones MP.
On behalf of the local government sector, I congratulated Mr Jones on his appointment and welcomed him to the portfolio. I sought a meeting with Mr Jones as soon as possible to go over ALGA's proposed range of initiatives to the Government and Opposition, in particular:
- improving access to municipal services through restoring the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants
- implementing a jobs-creation community infrastructure program
- speeding up transport reforms and enabling greater and safer freight movements through high productivity vehicles
- the maintenance of basic access through improved local roads and infrastructure
- assisting local government to play its part in working to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
I look forward to discussing in more detail with Mr Jones the Opposition's policies concerning local government and the current priorities facing our communities.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge and thank the Hon Julie Collins MP who has been promoted to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health. Ms Collins served as Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Local Government for nearly three years. During those years, Ms Collins was a staunch supporter of the sector, committed to strengthening the partnership between the Australian Government and local government through formal consultation and an end to the indexation freeze for Financial Assistance Grants.
Ms Collins also showed her personal support for local government through her attendance of our annual National General Assembly of Local Government.
We are grateful to Ms Collins for her years of support, and we wish her all the best in her new role.
Mayor Troy Pickard