ALGA cautious about urban policy

Last week Capital City Lord Mayors confirmed the Federal Government planned to release a draft National Urban Policy by the end of this year.
The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) welcomed the announcement, with president Genia McCaffery stating that councils were “happy to play a greater role in the community”.
However, ALGA voiced its concerns about continual references to the “economic benefits for the community” and limited discussion of “strengthening council’s engagement with its community”.
Cr McCaffrey said the paper emphasised changes to planning processes, which effectively cut the community out of any discussions about changes to their area.
“Housing affordability was about interest rates and the economy rather than how an area is planned,” she said.
Another area of concern for ALGA was the issue of local government reform and the need for a debate on whether there should be fewer councils in major cities.
“We oppose the amalgamation of councils just for the sake of having a central building for people to go,” Cr McCaffrey said.
She said the “knee-jerk” reaction to creating single councils needed to be taken seriously and examined carefully.
“We certainly encourage councils to work together for their community, but bigger isn’t always better,” Cr McCaffrey said.
“There are circumstances where amalgamation is needed, but that all depends on the geographic spread of the community.”
ALGA has called for councils and local government associations to voice their concerns through the Government’s call for feedback on the National Urban Policy discussion paper.
“We will outline our concerns in our submission,” she said.

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