President’s column

This year’s State of the Regions report was launched at the RCDF on Sunday and once again provided authoritative evidence of the state of regional development in our country. It highlighted four pillars of growth that are under the influence of Government policies and which must be addressed to drive regional economic development, and local government has a key role to play in developing these plans. More information about the 2017 State of the Regions report is available on ALGA’s website.

We also heard an enduring message from the smart cities panellists — Mayor Mark Jamieson from the Sunshine Coast; Brook Dixon, Managing Director of Delos Delta and Vice President of the Australian Smart Communities Association; Peter Runcie, Smart Cities Lead at Data61; and James Kavanagh, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft — to start with people first, experiences second and technology last in positioning our communities for an agile future driven by innovation. This compelling message reinforces the core of local government’s primary commitment to our communities before all else.

On behalf of the delegates at the event and the ALGA Board, I would like to thank the terrific array of speakers and panellists who left us all with refreshing ideas and exciting challenges to think about and take back to our councils.

I would also like to thank the Ministers and Opposition members who took time out of their busy schedules to address the sector: Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, Minister for Local Government and Territories; the Hon Michael Keenan, Minister for Justice; Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs; the Hon Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation; the Hon Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition; and Mr Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government.

We welcomed the announcement from Minister Nash confirming that the Roads to Recovery program has been made permanent, and from the Opposition that Mr Jones will visit every council before the next election. These announcements acknowledge the importance of our local-Federal government partnership and commitment to work together to support and strengthen our communities.

This year’s Assembly also considered more than 100 motions, many of which touched on subjects that impact on day-to-day council operations. Motions carried by the Assembly ranged from increasing the financial support that our sector receives through Financial Assistance Grants, to protecting our communities’ critical infrastructure. The ALGA Board will meet next month to consider the resolutions from the Assembly and determine a course of action.

From the enormous amount of feedback we received, the Forum and Assembly were worthwhile events and provided plenty of take-home messages and actions. It was great to meet so many of you in person this week, and I hope to see you again at the 2017 National Local Roads and Transport Congress, which will be held from 7 – 9 November in Albany WA.