Media Release: Vote ‘Yes’ in referendum to secure direct federal funding for communities

9 May 2013

 

Councils across NSW are calling on their communities to vote ‘Yes’ in a referendum at the next federal election to ensure essential funding for communities can continue to be provided directly to councils by the Australian Government.

Joint President of Local Government NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said the referendum announced today by the Prime Minister gives the people of Australia an historic opportunity to enshrine within our nation’s Constitution the Federal Government’s ability to fund councils through programs such as Roads to Recovery.

“In the past year alone, NSW councils have received close to $97 million from the Australian Government to upgrade roads in their local communities, and a total of $484 million since 2009,” said Cr Rhoades

“In fact 20 NSW councils, including Blacktown, Penrith, Moree and Gosford, have each received more than $1 million in Roads to Recovery funding in the last 12 months.”

“The Australian Government’s ability to provide this crucial funding directly to councils is currently under threat due to recent High Court cases, such as the challenge to the school chaplaincy scheme.”

“A simple and minor change to the Constitution will solve this problem,” said Cr Rhoades.

“I call on the people of New South Wales to stand up for their communities and vote ‘Yes’ in this referendum.”

Joint President of Local Government NSW, Cr Ray Donald, said now that the Government has announced its support for a referendum on local government, we need a full commitment from the Federal Opposition, the Greens and Independents on this important issue.

“For more than ten years, both sides of politics have been directly funding councils through the Roads to Recovery program, the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, the Regional Development Australia Fund and number of other grant initiatives.”

“Billions of federal dollars have helped councils carry out tens of thousands of local community projects including roads, footpaths and bridges, community halls, ovals, childcare centres, swimming pools and more,” said Cr Donald.

“This minor but important +change to the Constitution will in no way impact the governance relationship between State and Local Governments.”

“Under this proposed change to the Constitution, councils will continue to remain accountable to their communities and the responsibility of the state government; however uncertainty about councils’ access to federal funding for vital local community infrastructure and roads will simply be removed.” 

“I urge the people of NSW to think about what their community will gain from maintaining Commonwealth funding to their council  and vote ‘Yes’ in this referendum.”

For more information go to: http://www.lgnsw.org.au/key-initiatives/constitutional-recognition-local-government

Note: Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM and Cr Ray Donald will both carry out the duties of Joint President of the LGNSW Interim Board until the election of the first LGNSW President and Board in October 2013.

Media Enquiries
Cr Keith Rhoades, AFSM           Joint President: 0408 256 405
Cr Ray Donald                           Joint President, Local Government NSW: 0438 699 910
Alex Power                                LGNSW Senior Media Officer: 0408 603 093