I was delighted to receive a letter from the Prime Minister this week reinforcing the importance of the local-federal government partnership and outlining how the Commonwealth’s 2017-18 budget will assist at the local level.
The Prime Minister was responding to my appeal for the Federal Budget to address the growing income and investment divide between urban and regional areas and prioritise investment in programs and projects that boost the capacity of regional communities, now and into the future. His letter contained the additional or extended funding measures within the budget that your council should consider.
Prime Minister Turnbull’s letter outlined:
- the Government’s Regional Growth Fund which provides an additional $200 million for the Building Better Regions Fund.
- a further $272 million for projects that leverage long-term investment through collaboration between all three levels of government, business and the community.
- the allocation of $28 million to fund a further round of the Stronger Communities Program, which provides grants to local government as well as community organisations for capital projects.
I thank the Government for the decisions in the budget which are very positive for councils. In particular, the restoration of the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation means councils can now keep up with inflation and wage increases and will not lose a further $836.5 million over the budget out-years – which would have been the case if the Government had extended the freeze on FAGs.
ALGA’s priority now is to begin a genuine discussion with the Government about the quantum and indexation methodology of FAGs. ALGA will also seek a closer partnership between the federal and local government to improve the productivity of our roads by addressing first and last mile access through investing in our proposed Local Freight Productivity Investment Plan.
While our job is to continue to advocate on your behalf, your job must surely be to make effective use of the opportunities provided, such as the funding announcements listed above. If you or your CEO need more information, please don't hesitate to contact your local association.
And can you do something else for me? Please say thank you to your local Federal politician, either in person or in writing, for ending the freeze, for providing FAGs to your community and for the announcements in the budget which seek to improve your local community.
Share with them what you are doing, how you intend to use their funds or what grants you want to apply for. Get them involved and invite them to celebrate your achievements with you.
A little bit of thanks and recognition goes a long way – and it will make our lobbying and negotiations with them in Canberra so much easier!
Mayor David O’Loughlin