President’s Column – 31 January 2020

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

I want to begin by congratulating two former ALGA Board members for their recognition in the 2020 Australia Day honours.

Rae Kingsbury (Perry) AM, who in 2004 became the first woman to serve as President of the Australian Local Government Association, was named a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the international community of Timor Leste.

Her service to Local Government included being Mayor of the City of Darebin in 2004 and various senior roles relating to local governance in Victoria.

I also want to congratulate Bob Abbot OAM, who received the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to local government, and to the communities of Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.

Bob served four years on the ALGA Board, and eight years on the Local Government Association of Queensland Board.

His other roles have included Deputy Chair of the South East Queensland Council of Mayors, and Mayor and Deputy Mayor with the various incarnations of Noosa Shire Council and the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

I also wish to extend my best wishes to all local government recipients of Australia Day honours this year, and thank them for their contribution to our sector.

These honours are in recognition of the many ways our mayors, councillors, and local council professional staff step up and serve their communities.

We’re seeing that in their efforts during this summer’s tragic bush fires, and recognised by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack at the Transport and Infrastructure Council roundtable I attended on your behalf in Canberra late last week.

To make sure I fully understand the challenges facing our sector in recovering from the fires I’m am  joining Local Government NSW President, Linda Scott, on her tour of fire-affected councils in southern NSW this week.

I’ve seen devastation, loss and anger, but I’ve also seen remarkable resilience, great ideas and green shoots.  

I thank everyone who’s been helping their communities throughout the incredible array of challenges our sector has faced in recent times, including drought, bushfires, hailstorms, and even heavy rain in recent months, all across the country.

It has been a relentless few months and it’s times like these where local leadership really makes a difference.

I know you’re exhausted, I know you’re frustrated – but your community are looking for hope and a pathway to a brighter future – and they want it to be locally led.

Our recent Australia Day Honours recipients remind us that local governments can achieve so much.

I wish all affected councils the very best and want you to know ALGA will continue advocating to the Commonwealth to ensure you get the support you need.

David O’Loughlin

ALGA President