President’s Column – 6 September 2019

ALGA President David O'Loughlin gestures at a lectern

Each year the Federal Government provides billions of dollars to councils across Australia to help them deliver services and infrastructure for their local communities, and by far the largest amount is provided under the Financial Assistance Grants program (FAGs).

ALGA’s Fairer Share campaign is aimed at ensuring councils receive a fairer share of federal funding for their local communities.

Our long-term objective is to see FAGs restored to an amount equal to at least 1% of Commonwealth taxation revenue – a return to the level of FAGs we received in the mid-1990s.

We are under no illusions that this will be a quick win, and we are in this for the long run.

One of the key early objectives for the campaign is to build stronger support for the FAGs program among Federal MPs.

That means encouraging every council to contact their local Federal Member of Parliament and Senator to thank them for the FAGs received, and demonstrate how that money – or at least a sum equivalent to their FAGs – is being used to meet the community’s needs.

Over the last two weeks, every council in Australia will have received its first quarterly instalment of this year’s FAGs grant, via its State Government Grants Commission and Treasury.

While half of this year’s grant was paid early before June, every council will know its grant entitlement for 2020-21 – your share of the national pool of just over $2.5 billion.

I urge all of you to make something of an occasion about receipt of the grant, and to directly engage your local Federal MP.

Welcome the grant via a press release or social media post, and tag your local MP’s account. More ideas are available in the Fairer Share advocacy kit.

Identify a service run by your council that costs an equivalent amount to the grant, and note that providing services such as that would not be possible without the FAGs money.

Invite your local Federal MP to a morning tea or public event to thank them for their support, and help them to identify with that funding.

Our local MPs need to see that value of the grant to the community and the value they get – as community representatives – in supporting the continuation and future increase in the funding for the grants.

We need to persuade our Federal MPs to become champions for the FAGs program and champions for local government.

This is a challenge for each and every council.

Good luck, and please keep me and ALGA abreast of your efforts.

David O’Loughlin
ALGA President