Australian councils unite in push for seat at national decision-making table

Local Government must be guaranteed a seat at the National Cabinet table should the Prime Minister and State and Territory Leaders decide to permanently replace COAG going forward.

Local government leaders from across the country have united to call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and First Ministers to ensure they do not leave councils and their communities in the dark at a time when it has never been more important to ensure all three levels of government are working together.

Councils are currently represented at COAG via the Australian Local Government Association under a long-standing agreement.

Local Government Association of Queensland President, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said this arrangement must transfer to National Cabinet should it replace COAG going forward.

“National Cabinet is a powerful body making decisions that affect communities across the country. Councils, as the level of government closest to the community, must be in discussions when decisions are being made,” Mayor Jamieson said.

Local Government NSW President, City of Sydney Councillor Linda Scott urged State and Territory leaders to advocate on behalf of local government and their communities to ensure their representation is not diminished.

Cr Scott said the COVID pandemic had shown just how important local leadership and the essential services local government provides are, from the local main street to the local park and pool.

“Local governments deliver – at the forefront of every disaster and as the backbone of every nation-building program,” Cr Scott said.

“Local governments must continue to be part of Australia’s national decision-making because they know what matters most, and how to deliver on this at the local level.”

Local Government Association of Tasmania president, West Tamar Mayor Christina Holmdahl said councils needed certainty they would not be excluded.

“The Local Government sector believes that if the focus of the new National agenda is genuine reform then all three levels of government need to be included at the table,” Mayor Holmdahl said.

“Our sector has proved itself through the contributions made in the past through COAG and is key to future policy implementation to support a stronger Australia.”

Western Australian Local Government Association President, City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said many services that impacted on the everyday lives of Australians were ultimately delivered by local government.

“Local government has been represented and added value at the COAG table through the Australian Local Government Association as part of a long-standing and productive arrangement,” Mayor Roberts said.

“Local government is the level of government closest to the community and, as such, offers a unique and important perspective that other levels of government simply do not have.

“Local governments and their local communities cannot be left without a voice when issues that affect all communities are being considered at the national level.”

Municipal Association of Victoria President, Boroondara councillor Coral Ross said the best interests of the community were best served when all three levels of government worked in close cooperation.

“Local governments know their people and communities. Representation at COAG has always been critical to ensuring that citizens and local businesses have their unique economic, social, health and cultural needs represented, heard, and acted on.

“Reform, as a key objective of the new National Cabinet, can only ever be achieved when a strong local government voice and presence is front and centre of any agenda.

“Reform is never possible unless it includes the voice of those who place the best outcomes of their community at the heart of everything they do. This voice is local government.”

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