Local Government takes its case to new minister

By Staff Writer

The Australian Local Government Association has welcomed the announcement that local government and infrastructure will be combined in a super-ministry along with transport and regional development.

ALGA president, Cr Paul Bell said he was “delighted that local government concerns such as roads, infrastructure, community building and developing regions, have been combined in a Cabinet portfolio”.

Cr Bell said he had written to the new Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Local Government, Anthony Albanese on behalf of ALGA, seeking a meeting to discuss the backlog in the renewal of community infrastructure, a timetable for constitutional recognition and the growing issues facing local government of water security, climate change, urban policy and the provision of broadband.

He said he would particularly like to discuss Labor’s plans for establishing a Roads to Recovery-style program, which it had previously promised to support, as well as expanding grants to encompass public transport-related projects.

"Minister Albanese has a long-standing interest in infrastructure, dating back to his maiden speech to Parliament in 1996 when he spoke of the need for long-term infrastructure planning," Cr Bell said.

With ALGA planning to hold a Constitutional Forum in November 2008, Cr Bell said ALGA would work in partnership with the Minister to establish the Council of Australian Local Governments to discuss issues of national importance and generally help governments work together to achieve better outcomes for local communities.

One of the first tasks for the new Council would be to plan for a national referendum on the Constitutional recognition of local government.

“I look forward to working on developing a strong partnership with Minister Albanese, Mr Gray and the Federal Government on the key priorities facing local communities throughout Australia," he said.

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