Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has told an assembly of local government representatives that national prosperity can only be achieved when all three levels of Australian government — local, state and federal — are working together to deliver policies and programs for the community.
“[Labor] will ensure local government has a voice in a genuine National Cabinet process, bringing a focus on urban policy to the national stage,” Albanese told 27th National General Assembly (NGA) of local government in Canberra on Wednesday.
President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Linda Scott welcomed the commitment from federal Labor, saying that key issues such as job creation and economic recovery could be realised sooner if all levels of government worked together.
“As the economy has emerged from enforced hibernation, councils have been prominent in implementing measures at the local level – in partnership with the states and commonwealth – to support and facilitate economic and business activity,” she said.
The opposition leader also told the assembly that a Labor government would reinstate the Australian Council of Local Government, which was disbanded by a Coalition government.
The ACLG was an annual meeting that was established in 2008 for mayors, shire presidents, and local government stakeholders to meet with the prime minister and cabinet ministers.
Albanese told the group of local council representatives on Wednesday that the decision to disband the ACLG ripped away ‘an important function of the relationship between the two levels of government’.
Scott said she hoped Coalition MPs would follow Albanese’s position and show bipartisan support for the local government to have a presence on any new successor group to the ACLG. She also used the opportunity to restate her earlier calls for the federal government to give local councils a voice in the National Cabinet.
“By continuing to exclude local government from the National Cabinet, we potentially risk leaving some local communities and regions behind as well as prolonging Australia’s journey to full economic recovery,” Scott said.
“If we want Australia to emerge from the pandemic more resilient and dynamic than before, [we] must have a seat on National Cabinet and be involved in discussions about the broader objectives of recovery and how we’re to achieve them.”