The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed Labor’s pledge to include local government in the National Cabinet.
Federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese told delegates at the 27th National General Assembly of Local Government today that people expected the three tiers of government to work together on their behalf, particularly as the economy emerged from the COVID-induced recession.
“We will ensure local government has a voice in a genuine National Cabinet process, bringing a focus on urban policy to the national stage,” Mr Albanese said.
ALGA President Linda Scott said Labor’s undertaking reflected the need for the policies and programs of all levels of Government to be aligned and working towards the goal of job creation and economic recovery.
“If we want Australia to emerge from the pandemic more resilient and dynamic than before, Local Government must have a seat on National Cabinet and be involved in discussions about the broader objectives of recovery and how we’re to achieve them,” Cr Scott said.
“As the economy has emerged from enforced hibernation, councils have been prominent in implementing measures at the local level – in partnership with the states and Commonwealth – to support and facilitate economic and business activity.
“By continuing to exclude Local Government from the National Cabinet, we potentially risk leaving some local communities and regions behind as well as prolonging Australia’s journey to full economic recovery,” she said.
Mr Albanese also told delegates a future Labor Government will re-establish the Australian Council of Local Government (ACLG).
Established in 2008, the ACLG was an annual meeting involving the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, mayors, shire presidents, and local government stakeholders to engage directly on matters of significance to local and federal governments.
It was later abolished by a Liberal Coalition government, a decision Mr Albanese has likened to “ripping away an important function of the relationship between the two levels of government”.
Cr Scott said she hoped Labor’s commitment marks the start of a shift to bipartisan support for ALGA to have a seat on National Cabinet, and she thanked local governments for their ongoing support to have a local government presence on the successor body to the Council of Australian Governments.