President’s column – 5 March 2021

Advocating for you.

Thank you to the Shadow Minister for Local Government, Jason Clare MP, and Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Andrew Giles MP, for their time this week to consider what Australian local governments need to thrive into the future.

On your behalf, in a likely Federal Election year, we look forward to meeting with the Australian Government, Opposition and cross-bench MPs in order to pursue a better deal for local governments.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

As we toast the many achievements of women in local government this International Women’s Day, we should also celebrate the fact that Australia’s achievements in term of female representation on local councils are practically unrivalled.

South Australia led the world in allowing women the right to vote in local government in 1861, and the right to stand for council in 1914. It was in SA in 1919 that Susan Grace Benny achieved the distinction of being the first woman elected to local government in Australia.

Victoria was comparatively late in extending suffrage to women, but has more than made up for it since: female councillors now comprise 43.8 per cent of elected positions state-wide, up from 38 per cent in 2016.

The other states and territories are now well beyond one-third female representation in local government and improving on this with each new round of council elections.

That local government easily out-performs the state and federal governments on gender diversity is a tribute to this sector’s commitment and determination to ensure our decision-making better reflects the make-up of the communities we serve.

 In NSW, where local government elections are being held in September, many councils are actively encouraging women to think of being a councillor – supported by Local Government NSW and the NSW Office of Local Government.

It is a similar story in the other states and territories.

International Women’s Day is also a time to reflect on what we could do better to encourage greater female participation in local government – on council as well as in administration.

To all the councils around the country that have scheduled celebrations and make commitments to progress gender equality as we mark this International Women’s Day: I look forward to seeing the changes.

Linda Scott,
ALGA President