Councillor Don Palmer Providing Local Leadership & Working for You

The Federal Government has finally officially announced what most of already knew and that is there would be a referenda at the upcoming Federal Election that seeks to recognise Local Government in the Constitution.

Please when you consider this and vote, make yourself aware of what is being asked. Read the literature that will be provided explaining the reasons for change. Be careful not to be swayed by arguments that do not address the real question being asked.

This has already received quite a backlash on talk back radio. Many of the callers, indeed the presenters, would at this stage at least, are of the opinion that Councils don’t need more power. The discussion grew to how irrelevant councils were and that at least one tier of Government should be abolished.

The discussion focused on the high cost of governance in this country and I sensed an attitude out there that indicates this will fall over and councils will disappear. A bad and misinformed start to the discussion unfortunately.

I might take an opportunity to talk on the question of how many tiers of government there should be, how relevant Local Government is, and the “high” cost of governance in this country in later blogs ( a good topic). Right here and now I think it is prudent to actually pin down what recognition actually will mean.

The referenda is seeking only to recognise Local Government.

Let’s get one thing straight right away. Local Government only exists as a result of State Government legislation. The current or any future state government could, if they chose, to repeal that legislation and remove councils. Whatever it is that Councils do (that is probably something to blog about later too) would then have to be done by others, namely State Government Departments.

OK so what does recognising local government mean if it is not about giving them more power?

It is about the Federal Government, who let’s face it, holds the major purse strings in this country being able to fund local government programs.

In the past the Federal Government has passed grant funds for capital work programs down to the State Government, who then passes funds onto Local Government. More recently the Feds have chosen to send this money direct but this has been challenged as unconstitutional by the High Court.

If this move is voted down by you then funding will have to revert to going through the State Government. I ask then:

1  Will this not adding unnecessary cost so the State Government can process the grant?

2  Does this not have the potential to delay the funds getting to source? Does not the current State Government has a poor track record of paying their debts?

I won’t say much more at this time.

I just implore you to actually look at what is being proposed and what it means and don’t get dragged into the debate about power etc. Both Federal parties are supporting this. Ironically it is the State’s (or some of them at least) who are talking it down. And you have to ask …. Why?