Constitution must recognise local government

Glen Innes Severn Council is urging residents to vote YES at the proposed referendum to ensure local services are maintained.

Like most local councils, Glen Innes Severn Council provides its residents with many diverse services, including roads, bridges, waste management, libraries, a visitor information centre, parks, sporting fields, community services, noxious weed management, water and waste water management, planning and development, building services, companion animal regulation, and public health.

Local government is the only supplier of many of these public services. Despite this, local government is not mentioned in Australia’s most important legal and political document: The Constitution. 

Glen Innes Severn Council has always strongly supported acknowledgement of local government in the Australian Constitution. Council is in favour of financial recognition of local government, so that the federal government has the power to fund local government directly.

Rates only account for approximately 28 per cent of council’s revenue. Grants from other tiers of government are by far our largest source of income. The ability of local government to meet the needs of its communities will always be dependent on its ability to receive adequate funding from the federal government through the Financial Assistance Grants  distributed by the state governments. Without it, our community cannot be served by a sustainable council into the future.

The Federal Government’s Roads to Recovery program, which provides funding directly to local government, has been vital in assisting council maintain its roads. However, two recent High Court cases, the Pape Case and the Williams Case, questioned the right of the federal government to directly fund local government projects.

Glen Innes Severn Council has a backlog of at least $20 million, just to improve the roads to a satisfactory level. The potential loss of approximately $600,000 per annum in Roads to Recovery funding would be devastating for our community. Financial recognition of local government in the Constitution would help to guarantee that councils receive the funding they need to provide their communities with necessary services.

So please safeguard local jobs and services, by voting YES for the Constitutional Recognition of Local Government.

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