Last week saw the first round of the Smart Cities and Suburbs roundtable consultations with meetings held in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and continuing in Sydney, Rockhampton and Brisbane this week. A session has been confirmed for Hobart on 28 September.
ALGA attended the roundtable in Adelaide which sought to understand what smart cities initiatives were already underway in local government, what challenges councils faced when introducing such initiatives, and how smart city technology can be applied to solve local challenges.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's Cities Division, which facilitated the discussion, was also interested in better understanding the barriers that are encountered when applying smart city solutions and what support is required to overcome such barriers. Participants, including ALGA, councillors and general managers, prioritised the need for collaboration as the most important principle that should underpin the Smart City and Suburbs Program.
Reports summarising the feedback received from the various roundtable consultations will be made available soon after the consultation phase and draft guidelines for the program will be released later this year and finalised in early 2017.
The ALGA Board also met this week and were pleased to have Mr Stephen Jones MP, the Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, address the Board.
Mr Jones acknowledged the importance of local government, not only to the Australian economy, but also to the social fabric of our communities and said that this is why the partnership between local government and the Commonwealth means so much to the everyday lives of Australians. He recognised the great variety of services delivered by local government across Australia, including as a key partner in the delivery of Commonwealth programs, particularly its infrastructure programs.
Mr Jones agreed that it's critical to ensure the local government sector is funded adequately and he reiterated the Opposition's commitment to reintroducing the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants as soon as possible.
The Shadow Minister was open to further future engagement with the ALGA Board and State and Territory Local Government Association Presidents and the Board looks forward to continuing our advocacy with Mr Jones on behalf of the sector.
Mayor Troy Pickard