President’s Column 31 May 2019

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

We welcome the new ministry unveiled last weekend by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The new team contains a strong focus on a range of issues facing local governments, including infrastructure, regional development, waste reduction, and road safety and freight.

Congratulations firstly to the new Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton. The former Mayor of Gwydir Council in NSW before he was elected the Member for Parkes in 2007, Minister Coulton understands well the challenges local governments face.

As Minister Coulton said in his first speech in the House of Representatives in February 2008: “In regional areas, local government is under increasing pressure. It has become the primary vehicle for the delivery of services. Councils across regional Australia have risen to the challenge to meet the needs of their communities and are not only providing the traditional services of roads, rates and rubbish but now involved in health, child care, social work, education and aged care. They are doing a magnificent job but are grossly underfunded. I firmly support a more equitable method for funding regional local government.”

ALGA will continue to push the incoming government for fairer funding for all local governments, by restoring the quantum of Financial Assistance Grants to at least 1 per cent of Commonwealth taxation revenue from 0.55 per cent today.

On behalf of ALGA and local councils, I’ve written to Minister Coulton to wish him well, and also invite him to attend our Regional Cooperation and Development Forum and the National General Assembly next month in Canberra. We hope he will be able to attend, and will update you closer to the NGA.

Secondly, I have congratulated Prime Minister Morrison on his re-election and have invited him to the National General Assembly. I have also extended best wishes to the Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader, Michael McCormack, who remains Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

David Littleproud, who was most recently Agriculture Minister, is now Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management. All of these responsibilities deeply affect local councils. We have extended an invitation to Minister Littleproud to participate in a drought meeting planned to occur immediately after the NGA finishes. More information is available later in the e-newsletter.

Scott Buchholz is now Assistant Minister with responsibility for Road Safety and Freight Transport. Trevor Evans has been named Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management. As local government is eager to partner with the Australian government so Australia can become a leader in creating a circular economy and address our rising problem of recycling and waste materials, I look forward to meeting Assistant Minister Evans.

ALGA also congratulates new Agriculture Minister, Senator Bridget McKenzie, who was most recently Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation, Local Government and Sport. We also extend our best wishes to Senator Jonathon Duniam, who is both Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries, and Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism.

As your President, I’ll be seeking to meet the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and other ministers and assistant ministers at the earliest opportunity to expand on how we can work together to ensure our local communities can achieve their full potential.

Finally, let me say that I have also written to Anthony Albanese congratulating him on becoming the Leader of the Opposition and inviting him to attend and speak at the National General Assembly.

Mayor David O’Loughlin
ALGA President