Jun 17, 2013

Funding provided to promote public debate about constitutional change

The Federal Government today announced it would provide up to $10.5 million funding to proponents of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ cases for the proposal to change the Constitution to recognise local government.

The proposed amendment has strong bipartisan support at the federal level.  Federal Members of Parliament voted 134 to 2 in favour of changing the Constitution to recognise local government.

To promote public discussion of the proposed amendment, the Government will provide funding to proponents of the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ cases to assist them to take their cases to the community.

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.  Over 98 per cent voted for and less than 2 per cent voted against this bill.

Accordingly, $10 million will be provided to the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to assist it in its promotion of the ‘Yes’ case.  ALGA has long been active in promoting constitutional recognition of local government along with its member councils and shires.

While the ‘No’ case would attract less on a strictly proportional basis, the Government will provide up to $500,000 to proponents of the ‘No’ case. The two Members who voted against the bill will be asked to determine the distribution of this funding.

The proposed amendment to the Constitution is a small but important change that supports the ability of the Commonwealth to provide financial assistance to local government.

The change will 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.

The Government encourages Australians to support the proposal to include local government in our nation’s Constitution and to SAY YES in the 14 September referendum.