Agreement puts councils, Indigenous up for constitutional recognition

By Rob O'Brien

A referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government and Indigenous Australians could take place in the next Parliament following an agreement signed by the Labor Party and the Greens.

The formal agreement signed today by Prime Minsiter Julia Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan, and Greens leader Senator Bob Brown, Christine Milne and Adam Bandt includes a commitment to hold referendums during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election on Indigenous constitutional recognition and recognition of local government in the Constitution.

President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Cr Geoff Lake, welcomed this morning's agreement.

“This is absolutely fantastic news for councils, local communities and for improved cooperation between the three levels of government," Cr Lake said.

"We have been working for the last two years to secure this commitment and we applaud Bob Brown and Julia Gillard for today's announcement.

"Should the Opposition ultimately form government, we hope it will match this commitment too and continue the bipartisan spirit we have received so far to this point.”

Cr Lake said that the Shadow Attorney-General had previously made constitutional recognition for local government a priority for the Opposition.

"The inclusion of local government in the Constitution is all about stable government,” he said.

“It is about removing the current uncertainty stemming from last year's High Court decision in Pape which has cast serious doubt on the power of the Commonwealth to continue to provide funds directly to local government.”

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