Jun 24, 2009

2009 National Awards for Local Government

2009 NATIONAL AWARDS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Parliament House, Canberra

24 June 2009

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

Thank you for the warm welcome Ellen.

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the 2009 National Awards for Local Government.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to their ancestors and elders.

I would also like to acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues, in particular Maxine McKew, in her new role as Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Local Government.

I am sure you all join me in welcoming Maxine aboard.

I also want to thank our Awards sponsors…the departments of Infrastructure, Environment, Education and Employment, Immigration, Health and Ageing, Agriculture and FaHCSIA.

These awards have a long and proud history dating back 23 years to 1986 and the Hawke Labor Government. I am particularly pleased to be able to join you this afternoon as we recognise the 2009 winners.

This is an afternoon of celebration. An afternoon when we come together to celebrate and acknowledge the innovative work done by local government to enhance the liveability – and sustainability – of Australian communities…communities urban and regional, communities large and small.

This year’s theme: Local Government – building Australian communities, celebrates the important, grass roots role local government plays in nation building through improved and innovative delivery of infrastructure and services to local communities.

As you are only too aware, over the past 12 months, demand for local government services and infrastructure has increased.

Australians are dealing with the worst global economic recession since the Great Depression and many of our communities recover from unprecedented bushfires and floods.

It has also been a time when the resilience of Australian communities has come to the fore.

At tomorrow’s ACLG meeting, we will be exploring the ways in which Councils and Shires are meeting the challenges and I look forward to the exchange of ideas, local experiences and expertise.

But, as I said before, this is an afternoon of celebration.

The 2009 National Award categories recognise excellence and innovation and showcase unique local solutions to common problems in the areas of:

  • Capacity Building
  • Community Services
  • Environment and
  • Infrastructure and Services

I want to congratulate all the entrants in this year’s awards and commend them for their initiatives.

All up, 113 councils submitted 233 entries which were then put through a rigorous and robust two-step selection process by a panel of independent judges.

I thank them for their work in what was a difficult task given the high standard of entries – in particular the chair of the National Judging Panel, Jim Soorley.

In May, twelve large councils and nine small councils – that is, councils with fewer than 15,000 properties – were announced as Category Winners. You are those winners and I congratulate you.

As Category Winners your councils and shires typify the can-do, resilient attitude that is the hallmark of local government.

Yours is the tier of Government closest to the community and to community needs.

The breadth and depth of the projects submitted for this year’s Awards highlight the pride you take in meeting the community infrastructure, social, and service delivery challenges facing your jurisdictions.

This year’s projects include:

  • one-stop shop health care centres in remote areas;
  • partnerships with police and licensees to provide late night security and transport in entertainment precincts;
  • community-based recycling and waste management;
  • practical measures to address environmental issues;
  • creative approaches to the provision of affordable housing; and
  • original and inventive strategies to engage all members of the community.

Projects varied in size and scope, but they all demonstrate genuine commitment, civic pride and a desire to do the best for the local community.

I’m sure the winning projects will inspire many other councils and shires around the country to adopt similar initiatives in their own backyards.

Now, I know you are all eager to receive your Category Awards and are equally keen to learn which two projects have been named the 2009 National Award winners at tonight’s dinner.

My congratulations to you all, I will now hand over to Ellen who will guide us through the presentations.

Thank you.