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Councils to campaign in Federal election on funding

31 August 2004

SA Councils want all Federal election candidates in SA to explain why ratepayers should have to pay more Council rates to make up for an unfair share of Federal Funding to SA Councils.

SA's Local Government Association today backed a national "Blueprint for Building Better Communities" which calls for increased Federal Funding for Councils and implementing report recommendations aimed at sharing it fairly around the country.

LGA President Councillor John Legoe said that the unfair share of Federal Funding to SA Councils had a demonstrable impact on Council rates - probably in the order of 5% (about $32m) of current rates paid in SA.

"Ratepayers are demanding that Councils get tougher on these questions and so we're asking them to quiz every Federal candidate on their position," he said. "SA has a high number of marginal electorates and we're likely to focus on candidates in those areas."

"Neither the Government nor the Opposition has made full responses to a major report on Local Government funding tabled in the Federal Parliament more than 6 months ago (24 November, 2003)."

"It seems they are happy for SA communities to get lower services or pay higher rates than interstate counterparts."

Cr Legoe said the campaign to lobby the Commonwealth was one element of the LGA package of proposals developed in response to current concerns about Council rates and resourcing issues.
[Full package now available on /goto/resourcing ]

He acknowledged the Prime Minister's commitment to an extra $26.25 million in local road funding to SA Councils (over 3 years) and the Opposition commitment to match it - but said other programs required a similar response.

The Federal report "Rates and Taxes: A Fair Share for Responsible Local Government" called for about $1.5 billion in untied grants to Councils to be distributed based on need rather than divided between States based on population.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) "Blueprint" document calls for a summit to reach an agreement on roles and responsibilities of each sphere of government and for the recommendations of the "Fair Share" report to be implemented.

The "Blueprint" also calls for:

  • Fair distribution between States of the $1.2 billion Roads to Recovery 2 program;
  • The Auslink road funding program to include long-term funding for local roads;
  • Better support for regional airports;
  • New assistance for local traffic and transport services;
  • Better involvement of Councils in national environmental programs;
  • Improvements to the National Packaging Covenant and support for Council recycling programs;
  • Greater assistance for regional development and regions facing significant economic restructuring;
  • National support for public libraries;
  • Support for regions facing shortage of specialist health and other workers;
  • Development of a new immunisation incentive program for Councils;
  • New funding for Council Aged Care programs;
  • Ongoing support for online service programs in Local Government.

The full ALGA "Blueprint for Building Better Communities" document is available on its website: http://www.alga.asn.au.

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