President’s column

IN AN IDEAL world, councils should be capable of keeping their community infrastructure functional and fit for purpose. And it’s crucial that we do because our communities rely upon it. However, our asset base is extensive, our funding base is limited, and 11 per cent of or assets are in poor or very poor condition.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated that as of 2016 Local Government owned and managed around $408 billion in non-financial assets.

But assets inevitably age and/or deteriorate with use.

When the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) surveyed 230 councils on the condition, capacity and function of their community infrastructure, the results (published in the 2015 “State of the Assets: Community Infrastructure Report’’) were concerning.

Those councils reported that around 11 per cent of their assets – including buildings and facilities, parks and recreation, storm-water systems, water and waste-water assets, and airports and aerodromes – were either in poor or very poor condition. The non-road assets requiring significant renewal or replacement added up to $11 billion. That figure would be higher now.

Ensuring that councils receive the financial support they need to renew and maintain existing community infrastructure remains an important major ALGA policy objective.

In 2015, ALGA proposed a Local Government Community Program of $300 million per annum over four years,  to be funded by the Commonwealth.

Compelling reasons were given as to why the Australian Government should get behind the program: it would promote development opportunities and create jobs in areas where they are badly needed, act as a stimulus to counter slowing economic growth, and enable important social and regional outcomes such as stronger social capital, greater community resilience, enhanced health and wellbeing, and attracting and retaining a skilled workforce.

Now we need your help to reinforce the message.  

We want you  to demonstrate that councils have projects that are shovel-ready if funding support were made available. To make this easy for you and your CEO, ALGA has established a Community Infrastructure Ideas Register. 

The Register is now open and I encourage all councils  to take up the challenge and provide us with three ready-to-go projects or perhaps update your previous entries.  I am writing to your council  on this matter and want to take this opportunity to reinforce my request for project proposals.

Please check sure your council responds – I'm sure you and your community would want their projects on that list.

Persuasive though it is, ALGA’s proposal for a Community Infrastructure Program needs your support with proposals for real projects, in real communities, that are shovel-ready. Share your aspirations with ALGA and we can use them to reinforce the need for the program with the Commonwealth.

Those of you who attended this year’s National General Assembly would have heard a similar call for projects from the Shadow Minister for Local Government, Stephen Jones, so we know that the Labor Opposition is thinking about the idea. The project ideas we collect will be used in advocacy with both the Government and Opposition.

Hoping to hear from you or your CEO soon,