Local government assembly kicks off in Canberra

Almost 900 mayors, councillors and local government representatives have gathered at the 2018 National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra to discuss how the sector can continue to be responsive to the diverse needs of its communities, particularly in the face of growing fiscal pressures.

In his opening address to the Assembly, Mayor David O’Loughlin, President of the Australian Local Government Association, said that many councils now provide services and infrastructure that they did not provide 20 years ago because community expectations have changed; however, Commonwealth grants to local government have not kept pace with the increasing costs faced by councils.

“In 1996 the funding provided to local government under the Financial Assistance Grants was equal to 1% of Commonwealth Taxation Revenue. Today the figure has fallen to around 0.55%. Over the same period the demands on councils have increased substantially,” he said.

“At the national level, the growth in Commonwealth taxation revenue has not been matched by a growth in distributions to local government. Even if we include the partnership payments from the Government through programs such as Roads to Recovery and the Bridges Renewal Program, we fall a long way short of the revenue we need.

“We must call for a better deal on federal funding for local government – that is 1% plus partnership programs. This means the Government must restore core funding to 1% of Commonwealth Taxation revenue and add funding for partnership programs where agreed.”

Held over three days (18-20 June) at the National Convention Centre in Canberra, the conference, themed Australia’s future: Make it local’, will also feature addresses by Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie (Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Minister for Sport, Minister for Rural Health, Minister for Rural Communications), Hon Dr John McVeigh MP (Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government), Hon Bill Shorten MP (Leader of the Opposition), and Mr Stephen Jones MP (Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government).

The full conference program can be found at: http://www.conferenceco.com.au/ALGA_NGA/Program.html