President’s Column 24 May 2019

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

Congratulations to Prime Minister Morrison on his victory in the federal election and continuation as Prime Minister after a long campaign that culminated in the 18 May vote.

The Prime Minister and the yet to be named incoming Minister for Local Government have the best wishes of councils across Australia as they resume the task of addressing the many challenges Australia faces.

While the election has ended, many of the initiatives for which ALGA has campaigned since September 2018 are yet to be realised. There was progress in some areas; increased Roads to Recovery and Bridges

Renewal funding, continued local roads funding for South Australia, more funding for local sports infrastructure, some funding for waste and recycling initiatives and greater commitments in the areas of Indigenous well-being. But we still have a mountain to climb in terms of achieving a better federal funding deal for local government through FAGs, combating climate change, and really coming to grips with mounting recycling and waste management problems.

Many of those matters will be discussed at the National General Assembly next month, and I look forward to hearing the latest from our councils across Australia. We’ve received hundreds of registrations and it looks like this year’s Assembly will have about the same number of delegates as last year and that was one of our largest Assemblies!

Another challenge local councils face is managing our changing populations, be they in Australia’s urban areas, or regional ones. I am pleased that the Liberal’s Population, Migration and Better Cities election plan notes all three levels of government must work in partnership.

Indeed, the policy states that the Commonwealth will be “joining with the states, territories and the Australian Local Government Association to better plan for population changes” to consider a new national framework for population planning and management and also make population “a standing item at COAG (the Council of Australian Government).”

On behalf of ALGA, I look forward to working with the Australian Government directly and through COAG on population and other matters to ensure our local communities can reach their full potential.

While the All Politics Is Local campaign has finished, our Fairer Share campaign will now enter its second phase. This will involve local government associations writing to member councils to urge them to contact their new or returned local members and senators to congratulate them and also remind them of the importance of fairly funding local communities.

It’s imperative that we get as many councils involved as possible to unify and amplify our voices, with the objective of getting a better deal on federal funding which allows us to get on with the local projects our communities need to unlock their potential.

I look forward to working with all councils on the next part of our campaign and to strengthening our partnership with the new Federal Government.

David O’Loughlin
ALGA President