Local government matters most, new Australian research finds

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government has released Australia’s most comprehensive study into community attitudes on local government. The paper’s author, Roberta Ryan outlines the major findings.

This major piece of social research, which has never been done before, demonstrates how and why communities value the activities and role of local governments. In the latter part of 2014, we surveyed more than 2000 Australians to find out why local government matters.

Australians prefer their governments local

One of the most startling findings of ACELG’s research is that about 75% of Australians surveyed think local government is best able to make decisions about their local areas. This is compared with 26% for state government and an embarrassing two percent for the federal government.

Australians highly value governments that are ‘close’ to the community and they want local government to be responsible for a diversity of activities with, interestingly, planning for the future being amongst the most important.

Local Government may not be recognised in Australia’s Constitution but we fail to acknowledge its place in our federation at our peril.    Australia’s Federation debate, triggered last year by the release of the issues paper, A Federation for our Future, is focussed largely on the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth, the states and territories. We’ll be badly out of step with the community if we do not broaden the debate to more fully encompass local government.

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