Local Government representation in National Cabinet will boost recovery efforts

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed Federal Opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s commitment to include Local Government in National Cabinet should the ALP win the next federal election.

ALGA had been a member of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) until it was abolished and replaced by National Cabinet last May.

ALGA President Cr Linda Scott said the decision to exclude Local Government from National Cabinet had deprived decision-makers of the collective energy, wisdom, and on-the-ground knowledge of 537 local councils across the country.

“Councils have continued to deliver critical community services and carry out their day-to-day functions right through the pandemic,” Cr Scott said.

“As the economy has emerged from enforced hibernation, councils have been prominent in implementing measures at the local level – in partnership with the states and Commonwealth – to support and facilitate economic and business activity.

“If we want Australia to emerge from the pandemic more resilient and dynamic than before, Local Government must have a seat on National Cabinet and be involved in discussions about the broader objectives of recovery and how we’re to achieve them.

“We need to ensure that the policies and programs of all levels of Government are aligned and working towards a single goal.”

Mr Albanese gave the undertaking to include Local Government in National Cabinet during a speech in Sydney this morning to the Australian Financial Review Business Summit.

In light of the Opposition’s commitment, Cr Scott has called on the Prime Minister to support Local Government’s inclusion in National Cabinet and to raise the issue with his First Minister colleagues.

“People expect the three tiers of government to work together on their behalf, especially during emergencies like Covid-19.

“By continuing to exclude Local Government from the National Cabinet, we potentially risk leaving some local communities and regions behind as well as prolonging Australia’s journey to full economic recovery,” she said.

Cr Scott thanked local mayors and councils – including Hilltops, Narromine, Coffs Harbour, Georges River, Temora, and Gladstone – who have continued to push for ALGA to be added to the National Cabinet.

“The many letters that councils have sent to MPs and Ministers, both state and federal, underline the strength of community feeling about local government’s voice on national decisions being diminished,” she said.