Jun 18, 2013

Facts not fear in the referendum debate

An issue as important as the September 14 referendum deserves constructive debate.

Sadly, we’ve seen little sense or clarity from opponents, but plenty of fear mongering.

So, here are the facts. 

FACT #1: Constitutional recognition has bipartisan support at the Federal level. 

The Government supports constitutional recognition of local government. The Coalition support it and so do the minor parties and the cross bench.

The vote earlier this month was almost unanimous.

Only two members of the House of Representatives voted against this proposal. 

FACT #2: Local government will continue to be the responsibility of state governments. 

The proposed amendment does not diminish the role of the States with regard to the administration of local government. Recognition in the Constitution does not alter the fact that local governments are created by and are accountable to State Governments.

FACT #3: Constitutional recognition is simply about providing financial certainty.  

Constitutional recognition is about granting certainty so local councils can continue to provide the services and facilities that so many people across the country use every day.

The Commonwealth has partnered with local councils to deliver local roads, sporting fields, libraries, childcare and community services.

Together we have delivered programs like Roads to Recovery which has enabled upgrade and repair work to take place at 16,000 road sites across the country.

FACT #4: The proposed amendment is carefully worded and based on expert independent advice. 

The proposed amendment is based on the wording suggested by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, led by the Hon James Spigelman AC QC and subsequently endorsed by the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee.
FACT #5: Campaign funding is proportionate.   

The amount of funding to be provided for each case will reflect the proportion of Members that voted for and against the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) Amendment Bill 2013.

The Government will offer up to $500,000 to proponents of the ‘No’ case to put its case to the community.  The two Members who voted against the Bill have been asked to determine the distribution of this funding.

The Government will provide $10 million to the Australian Local Government Association for the ‘Yes’ campaign.