President’s column – 10 December 2021

This past week, on your behalf, I met with the Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers, and Treasurers as part of the National Federation Reform Council, to ensure local government voices are heard at the national decision-making table.   

I provided them with an overview of the significant efforts of local governments in 2021 to support communities dealing with the impact of COVID-19.  

I also used my address to advocate for an increase in Financial Assistance Grants. 

These have fallen from a level equivalent to 1 percent of total Commonwealth taxation revenue in the 1980s to about .6 percent today.

Boosting Federal Assistance Grants back up to 1 percent will create over 16,200 jobs and boost GDP by $2.37 billion annually and help support Australia’s economic recovery.

The NFRC meeting agreed that to enable economic growth, all members must prioritise economic growth and job creation agenda in 2022. 

As the federal election nears, your ALGA has stepped up our advocacy for greater investment in local government infrastructure so that it is resilient and meets the needs of our communities. 

We‘re also proud to launch our new research – the 2021 National State of the Assets Report – which has revealed that while two-thirds of all local government infrastructure is in good condition, one in 10 of our libraries, parks, bridges, and more – things Australians rely on every day – are in poor or very poor condition. 

Councils, particularly in rural and remote areas, face funding challenges in rectifying these deteriorating parks, playgrounds, and bridges. 

The research, therefore, is a timely addition to our federal election advocacy for Financial Assistance Grants to be returned to at least 1 percent of total Commonwealth taxation revenue. 

Thank you to the Federal Assistant Minister for Local Government, the Hon Kevin Hogan MP, who attended the launch and openly acknowledged the efforts of local government in partnering with the Commonwealth in initiatives like the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure program. 

Thanks also to Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew, National Farmers Federation President Fiona Simson, and IPWEA President Myles Lind for joining me at the launch and reiterating the importance of having first-class local government infrastructure supporting our communities. 

My biggest thanks, however, goes to the 454 LGAs (85 percent of all councils) who participated in our groundbreaking research that will add real firepower to our advocacy. 

It was also a pleasure, as a signatory to Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31, to be at its launch on your behalf – and to highlight the important contribution councils make to providing people with a disability the means to participate more fully in our national life.  

Tangible benefits like accessible housing, transport and built environments.   

Together, we proudly provide Australians with a disability with important recognition, to ensure their voices are listened to and their rights are promoted, upheld, and protected.  

I commend the strategy to all local governments, who understand that planning for disability inclusion benefits not only people with disability, but also the wider community.   

Linda Scott,
ALGA President