This week's announcement of the Senate results provides us, at last, with a clear picture of the make-up of the Parliament for the next three years and highlights the challenges the Government will face in the coming parliamentary term. The Turnbull Government will be dealing with an Upper House crossbench of 20, including nine Greens senators, four One Nation senators, and three Nick Xenophon Team, when Parliament first sits on 30 August. To pass legislation the Government will need 39 votes in the Upper House.
From an ALGA perspective, we also have a better picture of the job ahead of us to ensure that all of our parliamentarians have a clear understanding of the priorities and interests of local government and local communities.
I have already made appointments with a range of ministers and shadow ministers for meetings in Canberra at the end of this month and early next month and I am also looking at appointments with Senate cross-benchers and new Members of the House of Representatives.
While there has been a lot of comment about the changes in the Senate and the number of new Senators – and there are 11 new senators out of a total of 76, the fact is that there are many more new Members of the House of Representatives – 33 out of 150, and we cannot assume that these new parliamentarians are aware of the essential role of local government and the importance of the partnership between the Commonwealth and local government.
The Government identified its overall priorities for the next few years as ensuring economic growth and increasing employment opportunities and I believe that local government can play a strong role in helping the Government to achieve these outcomes across all communities. ALGA's Election Plan identified initiatives which would strengthen local productivity and growth through infrastructure investment and I will continue to pursue these opportunities with the Government, Opposition and minor parties in the coming months.
Our extensive experience in advocacy has taught us that good ideas sometimes take a long time to gain traction but that persistence pays off. Councils across Australia are ready to deliver improved infrastructure and services that make a real difference on the ground and our decision-makers at the national level need to be reminded that local government is an essential partner in building Australia's future prosperity.
Mayor Troy Pickard