President’s Column 14 June 2019

Image shows President David O'Loughlin smiling in front of a black background

The Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Nationals, the Hon. Michael McCormack MP, the new Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Mark Coulton MP, and the new Shadow Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Jason Clare MP will all be joining us at the largest gathering of local government delegates in Australia in Canberra next week for the 25th National General Assembly.

Minister Coulton will also announce the National Award for Excellence in Local Government at the Gala Dinner on Tuesday.

Beforehand I’m looking forward to catching up with my fellow Board Members for our ALGA Board Meeting on Saturday, ahead of the ever-popular Regional Cooperation and Development Forum on Sunday.

Among the regional forum’s highlights are the release of the annual State of the Regions report, which this year focuses on population, productivity and purchasing power in regional and rural Australia. The report also includes a special chapter on the health of regional journalism and what it means for covering local councils and the stories that matter to regional communities.

A range of excellent speakers will be sharing their expertise at the regional forum on topics ranging from philanthropy and local communities, to housing in regional Australia, arts, culture and tourism and the use of technology in remote and regional Australia.

The Assembly begins on Monday and this year takes the theme “future focused”. It will challenge your thinking about the future of your community across a range of topics including infrastructure, housing affordability, waste and recycling, and reducing community harm from alcohol and drugs. We’ll hear how local councils in regional and metropolitan areas are using technology to serve their communities, and you can test drive the future of motoring with two Nissan Leaf electric vehicles loaned to the Assembly thanks to Nissan Fleet.

As it’s the International Year of Indigenous Languages, I am very pleased that three directors of First Languages Australia will present on Monday 17 June about how we can unlock the treasure of Australia’s first languages. ALGA is proud of its role in supporting reconciliation with our First Australians, and I am sure that this session will be of enormous benefit to all councils. Be sure to bring some of your local first languages to share.

A highlight for many, there are also more than 100 motions to be debated and voted on, led by funding, climate change, the drought and water security. Whilst we will all agree on many of them, for others I’m looking forward to robust discussions from the floor.

With drought gripping and ever increase area across Australia we are pleased that the Australian Coordinator-General of Drought Major General Stephen Day will be holding a drought workshop over lunch time on Tuesday. This is in affect a mini drought summit just for local governments. Please register your attendance RSVP via nga@confco.com.au.

And we have just secured senior representation from Telstra to address councils interested in the impacts of their emerging rollout of third-party advertising screens integrated with their new pay phones and 5G nodes.

Lastly, let me extend my congratulations to the 21 people named in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours list this week for their services to local government. Our local communities thank you for your tireless efforts – for some of you over many years!

Looking forward to seeing you at the Assembly, please travel safely.