President’s column – 3 September 2021

In response to ALGA’s advocacy for more Covid support for councils that run early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, the Federal Government announced new business continuity payments on 23 August.

Local government ECEC providers with centres in Commonwealth-declared COVID hotspots in Greater Melbourne and Greater Sydney will be eligible for payments of 25 percent of their pre-lockdown revenue.

Childcare services in regional NSW and regional Victoria, will also be become eligible for support after seven days of lockdown, with payments backdated to 23 August.

Offers of fortnightly payments were due to be sent out this week to eligible providers.

This is a fantastic result for local government and the many families that rely on being able to access the affordable, quality affordable childcare that councils provide.

We thank the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and the Education Minister, the Hon Alan Tudge MP, for their ongoing support for the sector.

Local government continues to do all its power to lift vaccination rates so that COVID lockdowns can be eased and economic recovery can begin in earnest.

Although their requests for vaccination data to assist the rollout have been overlooked, councils are encouraging, educating, and otherwise making it as easy as possible for their communities to get vaccinated.

I congratulate all those involved in these fantastic efforts.

ALGA has briefed the National COVID Vaccine taskforce on the capacity and capability of councils to assist further with the roll-out.

We await their response, which will hopefully include options for better collaboration, including the types of assistance they may need to raise vaccination rates.

Attempts to keep National Cabinet deliberations secret by way of new legislative amendments introduced to federal Parliament this week are a disappointing development for local government.

Secrecy provisions were never required for the former Council of Australian Governments (of which ALGA was a member).

Making National Cabinet even more remote from local communities will potentially slow efforts to get the national vaccination rate up to 80 percent.

I welcome calls this week for greater transparency on how developer contributions are collected.

The National Housing and Finance Investment Corporations (NHFIC) said developer contributions (historically levied for essential infrastructure like water and drainage) are increasingly being used to fund parks, schools, and other social infrastructure.

The reason for this is that debt and municipal rates caps are constraining councils’ ability to fund good-quality local infrastructure.

All our communities deserve appropriate social infrastructure, and ALGA and its member associations will keep working closely with the development sector and state and territory governments to ensure our infrastructure contributions systems continue to deliver for every Australian.

Linda Scott,
ALGA President