Local government’s changing operating environment

By Angela Dorizas

It is a special moment in history for local-federal relations, one where things look set to improve in an unprecedented way.

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Genia McCaffery says in recent years local government has developed and maintained a healthy working relationship with the Federal Government.

“During the global financial crisis we worked very closely with the Federal Government and really demonstrated our capacity to deliver community infrastructure on time and on budget,” McCaffery says.

“That happened because we had a very strong relationship with the Federal Government.”

She says mutual respect between the two tiers and collaborative efforts on critical policy areas are further enhanced following the 2010 federal election.

“We’ve had very good support from the Greens and from the Independents,” she says.

The election was a particular win for local governments in regional and rural areas.

“I think the Independents, coming from rural and regional areas, have a very good understanding of the importance of local government in delivering services and infrastructure that support local economies,” McCaffery says.

“It’s a very good relationship and we’re very lucky. We’re in a good position to move policies forward.”

Local government’s top policy priority for 2011 will be constitutional recognition to safeguard direct federal funding.

ALGA has welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s commitment to hold a referendum on this issue before or during the next federal election.

But unfortunately for some councils, local-state relations are far from cosy.

There are increasing concerns that state leaders may jeopardise the referendum on constitutional reform.  Read More>>

Read the full report: Blueprint 2011 [PDF]

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