President’s column – 25 March 2022

We had a big win this week with the Prime Minister announcing a $60 million expansion of the Commonwealth’s Recycling Modernisation Fund.

ALGA has consistently advocated for increased investment in waste and recycling, and this additional funding will be targeted towards new opportunities to recycle soft plastics such as bread bags and chip packets.

In response to ALGA’s advocacy, we also welcomed the CSIRO committing $50 million to its Ending Plastic Waste Mission, which will help transform the way we make, use, and recycle plastics.

These initiatives will help us reduce the waste we send to landfill and we have welcomed both as great outcomes for our communities and our environment.

In the lead up to the Federal Election, we are continuing to push for a four-year, $100 million per year fund that would support local governments to deliver more innovative circular economy solutions in our communities.

Our ongoing advocacy for equitably delivered and affordably priced telecommunications in regional Australia has helped deliver new Commonwealth investment in the National Broadband Network.

This week’s announcement of $480 million to expand NBN Co’s fixed wireless network responds to a recommendation from the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC).

Internet access is a big issue for many of our communities, and we invited the RTIRC members to our National General Assembly last year to hear first-hand about the telecommunications challenges they face.

With Queensland and NSW communities still dealing with the aftermath of the February/March floods, the Federal Government is allocating $150 million from its Emergency Response Fund.

This money will be split equally between the states and spent on recovery and risk mitigation.

When added to the new $50 million Coastal and Estuarine Risk Mitigation Program this $150 million investment will mark the first time the ERF has disbursed $200 million in a fiscal year, the maximum amount allowed under the legislation.

Back in 2019, we told a Parliamentary Inquiry that any available and unspent funding through ERF each year should be invested in pre-disaster mitigation, and we will continue to advocate for a targeted $200 million per year disaster mitigation fund.

Next Tuesday night’s Budget is an opportunity for the Government to break the cycle, and help protect the millions of Australian properties that are at risk of flooding or other natural disasters.

We will be watching the Budget very closely for this mitigation funding and other announcements, and our initial analysis of what the Budget means for Australia’s 537 councils will be posted on our website later that night.

Next week we’re launching our national “Don’t Leave Local Communities behind” Federal Election campaign, which will highlight for our 17 priorities to support every Australian community.

It’s important all councils get behind this campaign and work with their state or territory Local Government Association so we can secure the support and investment we need to build stronger, healthier, more prosperous and resilient communities.

Please keep an eye out for our National General Assembly registration brochure in the next few days.

This will be the first opportunity we will have to gather after the Federal Election and talk about how we can best work with the new or re-elected Government. We’re putting together an excellent program that covers the key issues we are all facing, and I hope to see you there.

Linda Scott,
ALGA President