The golden thread running through our 27th National General Assembly of Local Government starting on Sunday is job creation.
It’s a capacity that local government has demonstrated in spades since the last NGA in 2019.
In the two years since then, our sector has contended with disasters ranging from drought to bushfires, floods, a pandemic, and economic recession – all of them severe, and all of them unfolding in rapid succession.
Our immediate responses were to ensure embattled communities got the support they needed to weather the worst and then to initiate recovery mechanisms.
The pandemic was and remains the biggest test of all – not just of our resolve, but our preparedness to step up on behalf of beleaguered communities and go the extra mile on their behalf.
Let’s be clear: our job-creating initiatives and partnerships with federal, state and territory governments have contributed to an economic recovery that has surprised most commentators with its speed and effectiveness.
It will be my immense privilege next week to recount some of these examples of our job-creation record (and potential) to both NGA delegates and to a wider audience at my National Press Club address on Tuesday.
It was gratifying to see the effectiveness of local government leadership in adversity and during times of rapid change recognised in this week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Felicity-Ann Lewis, a former ALGA President, and Coral Ross, a former ALGA Board Member, were among a dozen or so local government serving or former elected officials appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM) or awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to local government.
Our congratulation to all of them – and to Bega Valley Shire Council general manager Leanne Barnes and LGASA operations manager Scott Loechel, whose leadership and service during the NSW and SA bushfires were recognised with Public Service Medals.
With new Covid hotspots being identified, please be assured #NGA21 organisers and support staff will be doing all they can to ensure a Covid-safe event.
Some constraints will be inevitable, however, particularly around discussion of motions to shape and inform ALGA’s national advocacy platform going forward.
We ask that you show patience and forbearance with the new arrangements around debates on motions.
Finally, don’t forget that all five members of the Regional Telecommunications Review, including chair Luke Hartsuyker, will be at the Regional Forum on Sunday.
Their presence is yet another acknowledgement of local government’s leadership and a timely opportunity for you to represent your community’s interests and advocate on their behalf for expanded digital connectivity in the regions.
I look forward to meeting you in Canberra, and please travel safely.