POLL REINFORCES LOCAL GOVERNMENT’S CASE FOR FINANCIAL RECOGNITION REFERENDUM
The Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT) says the latest results of a Nielsen poll showing the majority of Australian voters would support a referendum to include local government in the Constitution reinforce the sector’s commitment to securing federal funding for vital local services and infrastructure.
The poll results confirm that the referendum proposal is backed by 65 per cent of voters nationally and that it has majority support in all mainland states.
“These statistics are consistent with research undertaken by the Australian Local Government Association, which indicates that the majority of voters support the concept of constitutional recognition of local government and more than 60 per cent support the need for financial recognition of local government,” LGANT President, Mayor Damien Ryan said.
“Communities understand that without constitutional recognition of local government, programs such as Roads to Recovery are at risk of High Court challenge. We have seen recent examples of High Court challenges in which direct Commonwealth funding was called into doubt. Communities can’t afford this risk to vital infrastructure.”
Last week, the Federal Government released the draft constitutional amendment bill, which outlines a small and pragmatic change to the Constitution to include local government.
The draft bill includes an amendment to Section 96 of the Constitution so that it would read: “Parliament may grant financial assistance to any state or any local government body formed by a law of a State on such terms as the Parliament sees fit.”
The bill will be debated in parliament in the coming weeks and LGANT has called on the Federal Opposition to support the legislation to allow a referendum on financial recognition of local government to proceed at the time of the September federal election.
Measures outlined in the 2013-14 Budget confirm that in addition to the funding provided to the Australian Electoral Commission to run the referendum, the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, the Arts and Sport will receive $11.6 million to undertake a national civics education campaign to provide information to the general public on the referendum reform process.
LGANT applauds the Australian Government for its support to include local government in the Constitution.
More LGANT Media here