‘Cth can accelerate Covid recovery through better LG support’

The Commonwealth can cement Covid-19 recovery by giving greater support to councils, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said this week.

In its 2021-22 Pre-Budget Submission, ALGA urged the Morrison Government to prioritise local jobs, infrastructure investment, and community wellbeing initiatives.

Economic recovery from Covid-19 and the 2019-20 droughts, floods and bushfires is imperative – and all governments must work cooperatively and to a common purpose if it is to be long-lasting and effective, the ALGA submission says.

In her introduction to the submission, ALGA President Linda Scott said: “Australia’s communities have been through challenging times in the past 12 months.

“Now more than ever, Federal Government support for local governments to assist our communities is vital for creating local jobs and strengthening community wellbeing.”

The priorities outlined in ALGA’s submission include:

  • Continuing the $1.5 billion Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program with a focus on sustainable transport initiatives;
  • Establishing a targeted disaster mitigation program of $200 million a year for four years;
  • Restoring the quantum of Financial Assistance Grants to at least 1 percent of Commonwealth tax revenue;
  • Establishing a local roads investment program to address first and last-mile freight efficiency issues;
  • Providing funding of $120 million a year over four years for local government arts and culture; and
  • Providing funding of $100 million a year over four years for local government circular economy innovation.

ALGA estimates these and other Budget priorities for local government will create over 31,000 jobs and boost GDP by $4.65 billion.

Cr Scott said: “During the pandemic, public trust in local government has increased – and communities now regard councils as fundamental to addressing issues like youth unemployment, health and wellbeing, and building more liveable neighbourhoods, towns, cities, and regions.

“Local government is genuinely recognised by other levels of government as a key agent of community relief, recovery, and improvement – and so must be provided with the necessary support and resources.”

She said that with their on-the-ground connections and expertise, councils will play a vital role in coming months and years to bolster local economies, make communities more resilient, and build a better, more prosperous Australia.