President’s column – 28 January 2022

It’s wonderful to be back with you at the start of what will be a big year for local government and indeed our country.

ALGA’s federal election advocacy is already delivering wins for our communities, with the Federal Labor Party committing to invest up to $200 million per year in disaster prevention and resilience if it wins government.

Over the past few months we’ve asked all political parties to support such a program through our Federal Election platform, and we are thrilled that Labor has heard and responded to our call.

Less than five percent of our nation’s disaster funding currently goes towards mitigation and community resilience measures, and it’s clearly not enough given the rising human and economic costs of natural disasters.

We will be asking all parties to match Labor’s commitment so we can do more to make sure our communities are adequately prepared for future disaster events.

The Regional Banking Taskforce we are part of continues to gather evidence and views on the impact of bank branch closures on regional communities.

Taskforce Co-Chairs the Hon Michael Sukkar MP (Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing) and Senator Perin Davey visited Mildura earlier this month for a local forum.

In a later media conference, Minister Sukkar said more than 400 submissions had been provided to the task force, which shows how important this issue is to our regional and rural communities.

Guided by the experiences and ideas of councils on the front line, we are advocating not just for new digital services to fill the void left by branch closures, but for regional communities to be able to access services that are equal to those enjoyed by Australians living in the cities.

To quote Minister Sukkar: “We are confident [of tangible recommendations] that will make banking services in regional Australia even better”.

Congratulations to all of the serving and former elected representatives and local government staff recognised in the 2022 Australia Day Honours List.

Special mention must go to Lynn Mason, a former Mayor of Flinders Island Council – and a Vice President of ALGA – who was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

She and the other dozen or so local government leaders recognised this week are testament to the dedication with which we serve our local communities.

On a more sombre note, I was saddened by the sudden passing of Troy Pickard earlier this month.

Troy was ALGA’s President from 2014-16 and successfully led our campaign to restore the indexation of Financial Assistance Grants after they were frozen in 2014.

His passion and energy were evident in all that he did on behalf of local communities, and I extend my condolences to his family, friends, and acquaintances.

Linda Scott,
ALGA President