Friends – As a long-time champion of local government’s capacity to create better, more harmonious places for the public good, I am deeply honoured to have been elected unopposed as ALGA’s new President last week by the ALGA Board.
By way of further introduction, I entered local government in 2012, winning election to the City of Sydney Council.
During my time on Council, I have successfully advocated for significant investment in new early education centres, more before-and-after-school care, and public libraries.
I have also successfully fought for City action to create more affordable housing and inner-city public spaces, increased early education and care centres, and boosted City funding for action on dangerous climate change.
I became President of the Local Government NSW in December 2017, and in this role have successfully secured the doubling of library funding for all NSW local government libraries, led a state-wide campaign to save recycling, and successfully advocated for fairer and more transparent electoral funding laws.
I am also passionate about NSW councils being adequately resourced to carry out their vital functions – and as ALGA President I intend to pursue the goal of adequate, sustainable funding for all of Australia’s 537 councils with energy and commitment.
I am deeply committed to ensuring ALGA brings value to each and every Australian local government, and that we are working in partnership through your State and Territory Associations to ensure you see value in what we do.
Congratulations to Mayor Matt Burnett, from Gladstone Regional Council in Queensland and Mayor Tracey Roberts, from the City of Wanneroo in Western Australia, for being elected as your new ALGA Vice Presidents.
I know you will all join with me in applauding the efforts of Mayor David O’Loughlin who, as our past President, has restored ALGA’s reputation and achieved so much for councils and communities across Australia.
I’m pleased to report I’ve hit the ground running, meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and federal Local Government Minister Mark Coulton on the sidelines of ALGA’s Special Local Roads and Transport Congress in Wagga this week.
Both the Deputy Prime Minister and Local Government Minister Coulton are openly appreciatively of councils’ ability to improve community resilience and drive economic growth – and I hope that our discussions this week will be the first of many that prove productive for councils moving forward.
I am also grateful to have spoken with Shadow Minister for Local Government Jason Clare MP.
I look forward to working with everyone with an interest in local government to progress the issues that matter to you.
The Congress, by the way, was a triumph – both in technological terms and the extent to which we were able to explore the vital and pressing issues facing local government today.
Our thanks to Mayor Greg Conkey and the Wagga Wagga City Council for hosting us.
To convene a hybrid event such “Roads, Regions, Resilience” is always to run the risk of falling between two stools.
Happily, we did justice to all three elements of the Wagga Congress while successfully drilling down into the many other subjects that obit local government.
Those who heard the fascinating insights of Nicki Hutley, Neryl East, Patty Kinnersly and Dr Richard Harris would have understood that out of even the most diabolical of crises there generally comes an upside – whether it be a chance to reflect and to learn, or an opportunity to pivot to a different approach or a new way of thinking.
All of the presentations, by the way, are available on our Congress webpage, and well worth revisiting. All are great examples of how councils – with the right tools and a determined attitude – can “build back better”.
Further inspiration was provided by the stories of the projects that put nine councils in contention for the overall National Local Government award – announced on Day 2 of Congress.
In the event, the 2020 award went to the City of Mandurah for its “Entrepreneurial Capacity-Building Program” – a fantastic initiative in an area of stubborn unemployment – while the Shire of Manjimup took out Minister Coulton’s Award for Progressive Community Leadership.
Congratulations to both councils, and the other category award winners.
Just last year, we would never have contemplated an online conference, let alone a hybrid event juggling the challenges of technology and in-person attendance.
Just as councils are known for their adaptability, flexibility, and ability to deliver on the ground – so too is ALGA.
The challenges that lie ahead for local government are considerable, but so too are the opportunities.
With your support – and do feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com – I look forward to meeting you and working with you all for a stronger and better local government sector, leading a locally led recovery for our nation.