President’s column – 21 February 2020

ALGA President David O'Loughlin gestures at a lectern

It’s my pleasure to announce the first round of guest speakers who will present at the 2020 National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra from 14-17 June.

The largest gathering of local government in the country this year takes the theme Working Together for Our Communities.

As this past summer has been tough for so many of our communities, we’re putting a special emphasis on resilience, with many sessions covering what local governments are doing, or can do, to assist our populations.

As we know, local government is the first level of government that our communities turn to when dealing with major challenges such as natural disasters like floods, bushfires, and the ongoing drought.

Dr Neryl East, a communications and reputation expert who works with many councils, will give the first keynote of the NGA and cover how to build and lead a resilient community through times of crisis.

Dr East will cite a number of case studies from councils, and will also facilitate a panel session with several councils whose representatives will share how they’ve responded during emergencies.

I’m sure there will be valuable lessons we can all adapt in our own jurisdictions.

Dozens of local governments around the country have declared climate change emergencies in the past year or so.

Sarah Barker, Special Counsel at law firm Minter Ellison, will give a talk entitled What Climate Emergency? Looking at Climate Change Through a Financial, Liability and Risk Lens.

I’m sure that presentation will prompt some robust discussions about what we as local councils can do, and are doing, to help our communities adjust with the realities of climate change.

We’re honoured that Patty Kinnersly, CEO of Our Watch, an organization dedicated to countering domestic and family violence, will use her keynote to launch a special toolkit for local government. We all have a role to play in making our communities safe.

Dr Liz Allen, a demographer at the Australian National University, will give us plenty to think about in a talk entitled ‘Demography, more than destiny.’

She’ll share some of her incredible life story, and also launch her first book, The future of us: demography gets a makeover.

We’ve invited Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, and Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, to address the assembly.

Peter Van Onselen, political editor at Network 10 and a political professor at Griffith University, will give a keynote on the state of play in Australian politics.

He’ll then moderate a panel on what the political landscape means for local government.

As always, our Regional Cooperation and Development Forum on Sunday 14 June is packed with issues of interest to local government in regional and rural Australia.

We’ve invited both the Minister for Regional Development, Mark Coulton, and the Shadow Minister, Jason Clare, to present their parties’ respective visions for regional Australia.

We’re delighted that Nicki Hutley, a Partner with Deloitte Access Economics, will present her assessment of regional Australia’s economic performance.

Shankar Kasynathan, an expert in settlement and regional areas and the National Advocate of the My New Neighbour initiative, will share examples of inclusive communities and what makes them work.

Lastly, don’t forget time is running out for councils to lodge motions for debate. The deadline’s 27 March.

Looking forward to meeting you in Canberra in June!

David O’Loughlin A