Griffith University law and politics expert Professor AJ Brown of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy says the publication of a report proposing a 2013 referendum on direct federal government funding for local government services is an historic opportunity.
THE preliminary report of the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government was published in Canberra yesterday, with the committee recommending the Australian government hold a referendum on the same date as this year’s federal election.
The amendment proposes to guarantee the ability of the federal government to continue to directly fund essential community infrastructure, facilities and services.
If passed, it would remove legal uncertainties over direct funding confirmed by the High Court in 2012.
I am confident about the impact of the proposal which has the support of all sides of politics at the federal level.
As a member of the Commonwealth government’s 2011 Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, I have called on state governments to get behind the move.
This is a historic opportunity to improve significantly the mechanics and operation of the federal system. The publication represents an important step towards constitutional recognition of local government.
The continued provision of important community facilities and services from safe roads and bridges to childcare centres and public parks, put in place and run by local governments, could be threatened if the federal government could not continue to fund local government directly.