COAG Discussions Focus On Terrorism, Federation And Taxation

The Council of Australian Governments met in Canberra and discussed a range of issues, including terrorism, reform of the Federation and the taxation system.

COAG

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, held a joint press conference following the meeting. He was accompanied by Premiers Baird, Napthine, Newman, Barnett, Weatherill and Hodgman, as well as the Territory Chief Ministers Gallagher and Giles. Felicity-Ann Lewis represented Local Government.

The State have agreed to introduce legislation to support federal laws covering the arrest, monitoring, investigation and prosecution of domestic extremists and returning foreign fighters.

COAG also agreed that the Federation and Tax Reform White Papers need to progress together. [Read more…]


Parliamentary Committee Recommends Referendum On Local Government

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government has recommended that a referendum on financial recognition of local government be held in conjunction with this year’s federal election.

The Committee recommends that Section 96 of the Constitution be amended to read:

…the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State or to any local government body formed by State or Territory legislation on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.

The report argues that uncertainty arising from the High Court’s Pape v Commissioner of Taxation (2009) and Williams v Commonwealth of Australia (2012) cases creates a “moment for action” that should result in a referendum this year.

The Joint Select Committee is chaired by Labor MP Michelle Rowland. Its Deputy Chair is Liberal Senator David Bushby. The Committee’s 12 members consist of 5 Labor, 4 Liberals, 1 Nationals, 1 Greens and 1 Independent. Seven members are from the House and five from the Senate.

The Coalition members of the Committee issued a dissenting report. They argued that the Coalition supports financial recognition of local government in the Constitution but that conditions laid down by the Expert Panel which preceded the Joint Select Committee’s formation had not been met.

The Expert Panel recommended that the Commonwealth negotiate with the States to achieve their support. It also recommended that the Commonwealth adopt steps suggested by the Australian Local Government Association to achieve informed and positive public engagement with the issue.

The Coalition members argue that there is insufficient time to satisfy these conditions and this will decrease the chances of the referendum succeeding.


Senate Committee Proposes Reform Of Australian Federation

The Senate Select Committee on the Reform of the Australian Federation has released its report.

The committee was established in June 2010 to:

  • inquire into and report by the last sitting day of May 2011 on key issues and priorities for the reform of relations between the three levels of government within the Australian federation; and
  • explore a possible agenda for national reform and to consider ways it can best be implemented in relation to, but not exclusively, the following matters
    • the distribution of constitutional powers and responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the states (including territories)
    • financial relations between federal, state and local governments
    • possible constitutional amendment, including the recognition of local government
    • processes, including the Council of Australian Governments, and the referral of powers and procedures for enhancing cooperation between the various levels of Australian government, and
    • strategies for strengthening Australia’s regions and the delivery of services through regional development committees and regional grant programs

The Committee comprised three Liberal senators (Russell Trood, Chris Back and Scott Ryan), two ALP senators (Mark Furner and Claire Moore) and one Greens senator (Scott Ludlam).



Victorian Local Government Association State Budget Submission

The Victorian Local Government Association has made a submission to the state government in advance of next year’s budget.

Budget submissions, state and federal, are examples of regular lobbying activity by pressure groups.

This is the text of the VLGA’s covering letter to Treasurer John Brumby, accompanying the submission to the Treasurer on the 2006-07 Budget priorities.

Dear John,

The Victorian Local Governance Association is pleased to provide a submission on the priorities for the 2006 – 07 State Budget.

Our submission focuses clearly on the need for the 2006 -07 Budget to be a Transport Budget which significantly commits to services and infrastructure spending to underpin the Metropolitan Transport Plan and commitments in both Growing Victoria Together and he Melbourne 2030 strategy.

Equally important is the need for a commitment to the development of a Provincial Transport Framework to identify local and state-wide priorities. We also draw your attention o significant infrastructure issues for provincial local government’s in terms of bridge capitalisation and maintenance.

We would be delighted to meet with you in the New Year to discuss further.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Rowe
Chief Executive


Federal Links With Local Government Will Grow: Howard

There are “growing opportunities for direct co-operation between the Federal Government and local government”, according to the Prime Minister, John Howard.

Addressing the Australian Local Government Association, Howard reiterated his view that “my philosophy and the philosophy of the Government is very much that we’re not going to be hidebound by a particular model or a particular framework of relationship between another level of government, but rather as we demonstrated in the attitude we took to our programme of providing funding for local roads that if the better outcome, the more efficient outcome, the more economic outcome was to deal directly with local government and to bypass state governments we would be willing to do so.” [Read more…]