Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird and Member for Throsby Stephen Jones today addressed the Southern Councils Group Business Meeting in Wollongong calling for bipartisan support for constitutional recognition of local government at the upcoming referendum.
“This year, Australians will be asked to vote to make sure the existing practice of Federal Government support for local governments is formally recognised in our constitution”, said Ms Bird.
“Local councils take responsibility for much more than ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ and local communities rely on this high level of service being maintained.”
Stephen Jones said this cannot continue to happen without direct funding from the Australian Government.
“It is so important that we ensure our councils are properly funded to keep providing the services we rely on every day like sports fields, child care centres and public libraries.”
Mr Jones indicated that the Federal Government has provided over $38 billion in Financial Assistance Grants to local governments since 1974-75 and in the current financial year, it was just over $2.1 billion.
“In addition to this, we plan to invest $1 billion over five years through the Regional Development Australia Fund, which has already funded successful projects in the region like the Wollongong Mall upgrade and Southern Youth and Family Services Hub development at Warilla”, said Ms Bird.
“These are nation building projects, and vitally important to ensuring local infrastructure keeps up with our growing region.”
“The Australian Government’s constitutional ability to fund these services has been questioned”, said Jones.
“That’s why the Member for Cunningham and myself are asking for public support today for constitutional recognition of local government from councils in our region.”