St George, 30 July 2015
President's Opening Speech to the 2015 LGAQ Finance Summit 22 April 2015
President's Address to the 118th LGAQ Annual Conference 27 October 2014
2014 Regional and Economic Development Conference Opening address by Cr Margaret de wit, President LGAQ-
2014 WQLGA Annual Conference - Opening Address by President Cr Margaret de Wit
2014 Local Buy Procurement Conference Opening Address - LGAQ President Margaret de Wit
2013 Financial Summit Opening Address by President Margaret de Wit
2013 Planning Institute of Australia Conference - LGAQ President Margaret de Wit
SPEECH | 117th Annual Conference: address by President Margaret de Wit - Welcome to the 2013 Annual Conference in Cairns, this year's theme of providing Value for Money
2013 Indigenous Leaders Forum Address by LGAQ President Margaret de Wit
Interview with ALGA President Felicity-ann Lewis
ALGA President delivers call to arms to Australian local government sector
The upcoming ALGA National General Assembly is set to attract a Queensland local government contingent of 116 delegates who will head south to Canberra for the three day event.
Council Courier took five with ALGA President Felicity-ann Lewis to discuss the unprecedented importance of an Assembly held under the shadow of the upcoming Federal Election and September Referendum campaign.
Why is the ALGA National General Assembly such an important event for councils to
attend and participate in?
The National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) brings together hundreds of delegates from councils across Australia to debate issues of national significance to local government. It provides an opportunity for local councils to develop and express a united voice on core issues affecting their communities with access to influential decision-makers of the Federal Government, at both the political and departmental level.
The 2013 NGA will provide a key opportunity to receive detailed information about the national campaign to include local government in the Constitution.
The NGA will provide delegates with briefings on the campaign strategy, details regarding the strategy's implementation, and most importantly, training on the crucial role councils can play in preparing each community to vote 'yes' to include local government in the Constitution.
The upcoming September referendum to recognise local government will obviously be a hot topic of discussion at the Assembly. What is the underlying message that elected members and CEOs should be taking home to their communities in the lead up to voting day?
With just under four months until voters go to the polls and cast their vote at the referendum to include local government in the Constitution, councils must do everything they can to promote the importance of financial recognition of local government in securing direct federal funding for vital community infrastructure and services. Without direct federal funding, local roads, libraries and sporting fields are under threat.
The message to be relayed to communities is this: voting 'yes' to include local government in the Constitution is about ensuring that federal funding continues to flow into our communities for vital services. Voting 'yes' to include local government in the Constitution is about voting 'yes' for community infrastructure and services.
The program this year includes a discussion panel on local government finances. How would you describe the current financial climate impacting councils Australia-wide?
Local governments throughout Australia face an enormous challenge in meeting the local
infrastructure and service needs of their communities.
The funding pressures faced by councils have been exacerbated by the changing role of local government since the 1970s as a result of increasing expectations from the community and cost shifting from other levels of government. Councils have also faced rate capping at different times and in different jurisdictions, a crowding out of the property tax base by state governments and a declining level of grant support through Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs).
ALGA acknowledges that the Commonwealth Government is currently undertaking a review of the FAGs system and welcomes this as a step forward but ALGA is disappointed by the narrow terms of reference and the vague structure of the review. ALGA seeks an assurance that issues related to financial sustainability and equity will be addressed in any review.
ALGA believes the FAGs pool should be increased, in line with the growth in the economy, demand for local services and rising costs. This would appropriately reflect the increasing demands on local government, often due to cost shifting onto councils by other levels of government, and restore the relative level of funding to the position in the mid-1990s. In 1995-96, FAGs constituted 1 per cent of Commonwealth taxation revenue. By 2012-13, this figure had dropped to less than 0.7 per cent. This continuing and deepening decline of the FAGs as a proportion of total Commonwealth taxation revenue inflicts an unfair burden on local and regional communities which is evidenced in underperforming council infrastructure, less well-maintained roads, neglected sports facilities and deteriorating community infrastructure, and cuts to important community services.
What are some of the other key issues affecting Australian local government across the board at the moment? How will these be approached at the Assembly?
Councils have submitted notices of motions to ALGA ahead of the 2013 NGA, which will be debated during the event.
Motions cover issues such as the need for permanent funding under the Roads to Recovery program; calls for more money for community infrastructure; efforts to reduce cost shifting from other levels of government onto councils; and the need for a broad review into the Commonwealth's system of financing local government.
In addition, ALGA will be launching an election document to be presented to all political parties. 'A 10-Point Plan for Resourcing Community Priorities' will outline local government's core priorities and propose a list of specific actions that are needed at the federal level to build resilience at the local and regional level in order to prepare communities to meet their current and future challenges. Among those challenges is the need for Commonwealth reform to bolster local government finances.
The program includes political speakers from all major parties. How will the Federal Election Campaign influence discussion at this year's General Assembly?
The NGA is an opportunity for political parties to tell the local government sector how they would deliver for the sector if they were to be elected at the upcoming September federal election. It is also an opportunity for politicians to address the core priorities outlined in ALGA's election document, which will be launched at the event.
Download the pdf A call to arms: Interview with ALGA President Felicity-ann Lewis
The NGA, to be held in Canberra from 16-19 June, will hear from politicians including the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Anthony Albanese; the Opposition Spokesperson for Regional Development, Local Government and Water, Senator Barnaby Joyce; the Leader of the Nationals, the Hon Warren Truss; and the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne.