With the federal election taking place tomorrow, I want to thank everyone who has helped champion our 12 federal election priorities, as outlined in the Australian Local Government Association’s All Politics is Local.
Here’s a summary of the commitments we have achieved for you so far:
1. Financial assistance grants to 1% of commonwealth tax revenue – Although no commitments to restore financial assistance grants to local government have been made by major parties, Labor has recognised and pledged to work with the sector on financial sustainability in its recently released Plan for Local Government.
2. Fund a local government higher productivity investment plan to realise the potential of Australia’s freight routes ($200m annually over five years) – The Coalition has committed $6m for local government owned road network assessment and $2.6m for the Australian Road Research Board to assist local governments to assess road asset management and maintenance, in its budget and Plan for Keeping Australians Safe on Our Roads. Labor has stated it will support the budget commitments and provide top-up funding for federal programs, but further details are not yet known. See Labor’s Nation Building Infrastructure Plan.
3. Boost safety on local roads – Both Labor and the Coalition have committed an additional $50m a year to the Black Spot Program, taking the total program funding to $1bn from 2013-14 to 2022-23 with the promise of $110m each year following. The Coalition has promised to increase the base funding for Roads to Recovery from $350m per year to $500m from 2019-20 to 2023-24 emphasising that the money be spent with road safety improvements in mind. Labor has pledged support for both programs in its National Platform.
4. Local community infrastructure program investment of $300m annually over four years – The Coalition will continue the Building Better Regions Program with $206.2m for round four. Labor has committed an additional $250m over four years for new sporting facilities, community hubs, arts and cultural centres. See Labor’s Plan for Local Government.
5. Protect communities from the impacts of natural disasters – The Coalition has announced Natural Disaster Resilience Funding of $130.5m over five years to reduce risk and impact of natural disasters (in The Budget). Labor has indicated it will support that commitment and, in addition, invest $3m in an Emergency Response and Innovation Centre in Townsville and $12.3m in a National Institute for Flood Resilience in Lismore.
6. Support communities with their climate change response - Labor has committed $62m for a climate adaptation and coastal rehabilitation program in its Climate Change Action Plan. In its Protecting our Environment Plan, the Coalition has committed no funds specifically for local government or adaptation, but will continue to invest in Snowy Hydro 2.0 with some funding also for electric cars.
7. Invest in a local government place-based preventative health and activity program – The Coalition has announced $150m for female change rooms at sporting grounds and swimming pools. Community Sports Infrastructure Program ($42.5m over 2 years) and $150m over 4 years for female change rooms (Budget Paper 2) See the Plan for Sport and Physical Activity. Labor has committed $260m for a national bike path strategy.
8. Continue to provide at least $5.5bn over the next decade to address the needs in Indigenous communities – Labor will commit $1.5bn over 10 years. See the Fair Go For First Nations Policy Booklet. The Coalition has promised an additional $37m to address youth suicide. Both have agreed to continue funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing.
9. Provide a Smart Communities Program of $100m per annum and a Digital Local Government and Rural / Regional Telecommunications Program of $100m over four years – Labor has committed to $245m for mobile black spots, digital literacy and regional connectivity programs. See Labor’s Plan to Deliver Better Regional Communications. The Coalition’s commitment is for $220m over four years to improve regional communications (i.e. $60m in new funding for regional connectivity program and $160m for two additional rounds of the mobile Black Spots Program). See Budget Paper 2.
10. Strengthen Australia’s circular economy – The Coalition will reallocate $100m from Clean Energy Finance Corporation so manufacturers can become more energy efficient. See Our Plan for a Cleaner Environment. Labor will invest $290m in waste and recycling including $15m for a National Waste Commissioner and $60m in a national recycling fund. See the Stop The Plastic Tide Plastics Waste and Recycling Policy
11. Support local government’s current work in addressing affordable housing and homelessness issues – No commitment from the Coalition. Labor’s policy includes installing a Housing Minister, building 250,000 new affordable homes and investing $88m over two years in a new safe housing fund associated with domestic and family violence, and a commitment to winding back negative gearing.
12. Address the South Australian road funding anomaly – Both the Coalition and Labor have agreed to address SA’s road funding anomaly with $20m annually.
EMERGENCY SERVICES LEVY ADVOCACY – Thank you to the many councils that have already taken action to call on the NSW Government to reverse their sudden and significant Emergency Services Levy increases announced last week. Councils supporting this resolution include Bourke, Moree and Upper Lachlan.
If your council hasn’t already done so, please join us in calling upon the NSW Government to fund the increased cost of the levy for the first year, and work with the sector to design a better, fairer funding mechanism in future. Ask your council to consider our draft mayoral minute and share your concerns via media and social media. For more details and to share your councils’ actions with us, please contact Mark Hely at LGNSW.
PLANNING AND CUSTOMER SERVICE MINISTERIAL MEETINGS – I met this week with the new Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, and the new Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, to seek government action on the priorities you have identified for us.
We continued to highlight the concerns of councils about planning panels being imposed – especially to those councils outside Sydney that have been identified to have planning panels rolled out in response to the Kaldis Review, and also to call for the sharing of data from the Government’s e-planning system.
We look forward to continuing a strong and productive working relationship with these ministers, their staff and the government agencies that support them.
COUNCIL VISITS – Thank you to the mayors, councillors and staff of Yass Valley and Upper Lachlan councils who met with us this week to discuss their priorities for the future of LGNSW.
NSW DIRECTORATE MEETING – I dropped in to the NSW Water Directorate Executive Committee meeting today to say hello and get some firsthand feedback on priorities for local water utilities.
Photos: Visiting Yass Valley and Upper Lachlan councils; building relationships with Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes; speaking to the NSW Water Directorate Executive Committee.