I was so humbled to attend last week’s Jobs Summit to represent all of you – 200,000 Australians working in our 537 local governments in more than 400 occupations.
Contrary to popular opinion, our local government workforce looks a little like me – a majority of women, on average slightly younger than the average Australian worker.
Like all of the world, we’re experiencing significant skill shortages – our engineers that build your bridges and local libraries; our planners that are so fundamental to approving housing and productivity creating development; our environmental health inspectors to ensure that development contributes to clean, green and healthy local environments, our building surveyors who keep all those structures safe, stable and affordable to energise, and our people managers to organise all these people in every corner of the nation.
I took to the Summit our solution, sending the clear message that local governments are here to help.
We’re the anchor of most regional and rural towns, skilling every corner of Australia. We’re in every capital and global city, such as my beautiful home in the City of Sydney.
We don’t want to lose our people but we understand, as governments, our commitment to the public good extends beyond our own skill needs.
Through apprenticeships, we are ready to train the next generation of Australians workers, across literally hundreds of occupations.
Importantly, we can give our children opportunities to start their careers in the community they grew up in.
By building great places to live, with affordable housing, sporting grounds and thriving main streets, we can provide attractive destinations for skilled migrants. In our cities, we’re building the economic global powerhouse of industry and innovation.
Through investing in literally millions of local infrastructure improvements – cycleways, libraries and first mile/last mile transport connections- through to local disability, multicultural, early education and care and even aged care services, we can better support businesses to grow and help boost our national productivity.
I spoke to the Government and Summit leaders about the biggest challenges we have – a lack of funding, and uncertainty of funding. Financial Assistance Grants to local government have slid from 1 percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue in 1996 to just 0.55 percent today.
Restoring these grants to at least 1 percent would support local governments to invest in workforce planning and development, increasing the productivity of their workforce, and training Australia’s workers – all of your workers – of the future.
So together, as we work with this new Federal Government our message – together – is: we’re local, we’re in every city, town and community. We’re on the front line, and we’re ready to help.
Finally, I am pleased to let you know that the registration brochure for the 2022 National Local Roads and Transport Congress is now available.
Early bird closes on 7 October, so don’t miss out and I can’t wait to see you there.