Apr 16, 2013

Local Government Referendum on the agenda at Ministers’ meeting in Hobart

A joint meeting of the Council of Australia Governments’ Regional Australia Standing Council and the Local Government Ministers’ Forum will take place on Thursday in Hobart.

The joint meeting will bring together Australia’s three tiers of government to discuss how to unlock economic opportunities for regional Australia and infrastructure priorities for local government.

The inclusion of local government in the nation’s Constitution will be at the top of the agenda, as the Commonwealth seeks to get the agreement of the states and territories on a proposed referendum.

As the new Minister for Regional Development and Local Government, I am pleased to reaffirm the Federal Labor Government’s commitment to giving local government recognition through the constitution.

We know that for a referendum to be successful, we need a broad consensus in the community and across all the states and territories.

I also know this will be tough as some of my state and territory counterparts have concerns.

But the Federal Government is determined to give this our best shot and try to resolve the states’ issues and maintain bipartisan support from the Federal Opposition.

At the meeting, Ministers will also discuss planning, prioritisation and funding of regional and local government infrastructure and an Ernst and Young Report into the private financing options for local government, commissioned by former Regional Development and Local Government Minister, Simon Crean. This report is now available at: www.regional.gov.au/local/lgifr/index.aspx.

Positioning Australia’s regions to take advantage of the Asian Century will be another key focus of the joint meeting. Creating and maintaining access to new and burgeoning Asian markets will deliver real and lasting growth for all of our regions.