Have the major political parties lost touch with what's important at the local community level?
According to the results of a poll commissioned by ALGA, Australians certainly think so – 81% agreed that political candidates should focus on local issues and local communities at the next federal election.
In a bid to refocus the major parties back to what's important for local communities, ALGA has this week launched its federal election document All politics is local – 12 ways to deliver for Australian communities (www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au).
ALGA's federal election document outlines a number of proactive policy initiatives that will optimise a Commonwealth-local government partnership and provide solutions to the challenges our communities are facing.
Each of the initiatives is designed to benefit every community by improving local services and infrastructure, promoting fairness and boosting local, regional and national productivity. Modelling demonstrated that, combined, they will add more than $8.97 billion to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product and create more than 24,000 new jobs, with economic benefits distributed across the entire country.
Although an election hasn't officially been called, politicians are well and truly in election mode and this is the perfect opportunity to capitalise on the untapped potential for a major political party to champion local community interests.
The coming weeks and months will be a busy time for ALGA as we reach out to politicians to promote these initiatives.
However, if we want our needs be seriously considered by the political parties and their candidates at the next election, we need you to localise them. I cannot overstate how important it is for our sector to present a united front in our calls for greater investment in local government, local communities and local jobs.
So, meet with your local federal candidates and tell them which bridge, which road, which sporting facility, health program, housing project or other need matters most to your community. Then point to our election policies as the framework for your local member to justify a funding program.
This is more than a one-off kind of approach – instead it nurtures a sustainable and ongoing partnership between local communities and their federal government.
ALGA has made it simple for councils as well as local government associations to help strengthen the advocacy happening at the national level by preparing federal election advocacy kits which are available on ALGA's election advocacy website: www.allpoliticsislocal.com.au.
Advocating and articulating the shared priorities of local government with local candidates is critical. If we can get enough candidates championing our local priorities, the candidates will carry our calls into their party rooms and we will ultimately get national programs funded by government and more projects delivered for our communities.
Mayor David O'Loughlin