Local Government Welcomes The Rudd Goverment's Work On Constitutional Reform

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20th January 2010, 01:43pm - Views: 932

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20 January 2010

Local government welcomes the Rudd Government's work on constitutional reform 

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed comments by the Federal

Government that it is currently considering four referendum questions – including one dealing with local

government – to be put to voters during the next parliamentary term.

ALGA president Cr Geoff Lake said, "For the past 12 months, local government has been advocating the

need for constitutional change to improve the way the three levels of government operate in Australia.

"In particular, we have been pushing for a clear statement to be inserted in the Constitution which expressly

empowers the federal government to provide funds to local government.  Since the High Court's decision last

year in Pape, it has been increasingly doubtful whether the Federal Government can continue its current

practice of providing funds directly to councils.

"Given that local government receives most of its government funding from the federal level and has done

since the Whitlam Government, this uncertainty is regrettable and deserves redress.

"It's important to stress that such change would not threaten or diminish state powers over councils in any

way.  State governments would still be able to amalgamate, reform and sack councils in exactly the same

way they can at present.  All this change would do is drag the Constitution into the 21st century by expressly

enabling and supporting current practice.

Cr Lake, a member of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) alongside the Prime Minister and

state and territory leaders, has also welcomed the Government's move to examine referendum options to

encourage cooperative federalism.

"You don't need to sit around the COAG table to know that Australia's federation desperately needs renewal

and reinvigoration.  Whatever the issue – whether it be climate change, major infrastructure, education or

health reform – there are very few contemporary political issues that don't require cooperation between at

least two of the three levels of government.  The constitution should enable such cooperation not hinder it.

"It defies belief that in 2010 we continue to have a situation where the three levels of government cannot

function effectively because of a constitutional framework devised in a completely different era long before

the motor car, centrally collected taxation, television, climate change and the internet.

"We support the Rudd Government's commitment to building a better federalism and see this as a logical first

step towards realising the Government's goal of lifting Australia's productivity growth from 1.4 per cent to 2

per cent over the next four decades."  



Cr Geoff Lake, ALGA President     0411 645 281

        Amanda Lynch, Director, Public Affairs 0419 123 862 / 02 6122 9434

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