Thursday, April 25, 2024

ALGA welcomes inquiry into LG sustainability

A new House of Representatives Standing Committee inquiry into local government sustainability has been welcomed by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport will examine local government sustainability in the new inquiry, which was launched today.

Chair of the Committee, Luke Gosling OAM (pictured) said, “the Committee has prioritised a deeper understanding of local government financial sustainability and funding frameworks, alongside the changing infrastructure requirements and service delivery obligations for local governments. Local government sustainability is essential to supporting our Australian communities through the provision of vital infrastructure and related services. The Committee is seeking to understand the challenges faced by local governments in servicing infrastructure requirements across Australia’s regional, rural, and remote locations”.

Mr Gosling further emphasised that “the Committee is aware of significant public infrastructure workforce shortages, particularly in local government areas, and the importance of promoting skills development and job security for Australians. The Committee will examine labour hire and retention trends, including the impacts of labour hire practices, to identify barriers and opportunities to support our local workforce and local government sustainability and service delivery obligations”.

ALGA President, City of Sydney Councillor Linda Scott said the inquiry came at a time when councils are constantly being asked to do more “by their communities and state and territory governments – but aren’t being funded to deliver on these responsibilities”.

“ALGA’s research shows that over the past decade local government expenditure per capita has flatlined, while spending by other governments has continued to rise,” President Scott said.

“It’s encouraging that the changing infrastructure and service delivery obligations of local government have been recognised and included in the inquiry’s terms of reference.

“By providing a wide range of free and low-cost services, we are delivering real cost of living relief in our local communities, but need more sustainable funding.”

President Scott said ALGA looked forward to presenting to the Inquiry on the challenges Australian local governments are facing.

She said a key consideration for the inquiry would be the importance and effectiveness of untied federal funding to councils through federal Financial Assistance Grants.

“Over the past 30 years, we have seen Financial Assistance Grants to councils slip from one percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue to just half a percent.”

“Regional and rural councils have been hit the hardest, and for many of these councils Financial Assistance Grants make up more than 20% of their annual operating expenditure.

“We are committed to partnering with the Commonwealth, and our state and territory governments, to facilitate more affordable housing, better prepare for natural disasters, and deliver on our national emissions targets, but we can’t do this without funding support.”

She said it was also encouraging to see the terms of reference for the inquiry include workforce challenges, with ALGA’s research showing nine out of every 10 councils are experiencing jobs and skills shortages.

The Committee is welcoming submissions from interested organisations and individuals by 3 May 2024. Further information on the inquiry, including the terms of reference and how to contribute, is available on the Committee’s website.

Latest Articles