Australia’s councils say they won’t consider Labor’s commitment to giving them a seat at National Cabinet delivered until they have full voting rights at every meeting.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that a representative of local government will be invited to future meetings of National Cabinet and the Council on Federal Financial Relations once a year.
“The National Cabinet agreed…that we will invite a representative of local government to a future meeting of the National Cabinet and the Treasury body once a year to each of those meetings, to ensure that all levels of government are able to be involved,” Mr Albanese told reporters at a press conference after his first National Conference with state and territory leaders on Friday.
Local government has been lobbying for a seat at National Cabinet since May 2020, when former Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced COAG would be disbanded and replaced with the permanent National Cabinet.
Hopes were raised when Mr Albanese pledged in March to include local government in the new body.
On Monday ALGA president Linda Scott said that the peak welcomed the appointment of local government to National Cabinet and was pleased that one of its four annual meetings would be dedicated to local government matters.
It was also pleasing that local government would be included for the first time on the Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR), which would also dedicate one of its four annual meetings to local government matters, Cr Scott said.
However, she said Mr Albanese’s announcement didn’t go far enough.
“We will not consider this commitment to have been delivered until ALGA is a full voting member at all National Cabinet meetings,” she told Government News on Monday.
“ALGA will take the opportunity to place its full voting membership on the agenda of the first National Cabinet meeting we attend, with a view to ensuring we are able to attend all meetings as a full voting member in the future.”
ALGA would also work towards securing full voting membership of CFFR, and would be putting the financial sustainability of local government on the agenda for the first meeting it attends, Cr Scott said.
“We look forward to working with the Prime Minister and Government to ensure local governments are represented on all relevant Ministerial Councils, including Climate Change and Energy Ministers, Housing Ministers, and any committees established by Cabinet which have relevance to local government,” she said.
“We look forward to working with the Prime Minister, National Cabinet and governments across the nation to restore integrity to federal funding for local government, and secure fair funding that will ensure the financial sustainability of every council and community.”
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