Happy New Year!
2017 is well underway and the year ahead looks to be filled with a range of opportunities for local government and Australia. This year the Government will reveal its refreshed regional policy, the outcomes of the Regional Development Australia (RDA) review will be known, new programs announced last year will be implemented – such as the Building Better Regions Fund and the Smart Cities and Suburbs Programme – and we will see the current City Deals agreements taking shape around the country.
I will be working closely with all Federal Parliamentarians to help achieve smarter, more productive and more resilient communities throughout Australia. I am particularly interested in what can be done to develop vibrant regions, improve the way our cities grow, and increase investment in productive infrastructure that is critical to the long-term future of our communities and country.
I have sent a letter to each and every council outlining these and other priorities that I will be driving this year on behalf of the ALGA Board to shape the national policies that we are pursuing. So, please keep an eye out for this letter.
Last week, ALGA made a detailed submission to the Treasurer in the lead up to the 2017/18 Federal budget, focused on ensuring that the services and infrastructure on which local communities rely are secure.
This brings me to the topic of Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs). Last year’s budget indicated that annual indexation of FAGs would return from 2017-18. Although ALGA welcomed this indication, it does not completely guarantee an end to the freeze. This is why ALGA has this week called on the Government to deliver on its promise to restore the indexation of FAGs in the upcoming May Federal budget. We need certainty that indexation will be restored and that councils will have the resources necessary to provide the level of services that their communities deserve.
Finally, I would like to congratulate my local government colleagues (past and present) who were recognised with awards and honoured in the Australia Day honours list yesterday. Thank you for your tireless commitment to our communities.
Mayor David O’Loughlin