Cathy acknowledges the hard work of Indi's Local Government Councillors
Posted September 26, 2016
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (12:16): Mr Deputy Speaker Georganas, congratulations on your election win. It is lovely having you back here. It is often said that local government is the form of government that is closest to the community. I am very proud to have a strong and productive relationship with all of the local governments in Indi and, as an MP, I see it as one of my priorities to strongly represent the interests of local government in Indi to the parliament.
As we prepare for the Victoria local government elections, I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge, honour and thank all the councillors who work across the nine local government areas in Indi. Thank you for your work over the past four years. As a community, we are grateful to you for your commitment, dedication and ability to truly engage with all communities. As a member of parliament, I am particularly grateful to you for your public service, your public advocacy, your policy advice and your true commitment to advance the future of our communities. So to retiring councillors, I wish you well and say thank you. For those standing for re-election, happy campaigning and fine weather as you move among the electorate.
On Monday 5 September, I met with CEOs and mayors of local government in Indi in what we agreed will form the foundations of the Indi LGA advisory group. I have committed to being a strong representative for local government in this place. Today, I am very pleased to bring before this House a summary of issues placed before by local government in north-east Victoria.
Consistency of funding is a key issue. Local government needs consistency of funding to enable long-term planning and budgeting. For this in particular, the federal government's Financial Assistance Grants program and the current freeze on indexation has placed great inconvenience and cost to all our communities. They call on the government to lift that freeze and to put in place a strategy for regrouping the cost to local government over the last three years.
Another issue is the National Stronger Regions funding round. Local government has been expecting a reply from the government and announcements in July this year. The delays in making the announcement are impacting on local government's ability to plan. I call on the minister to make the announcement soon to give local government surety for its planning and its ability to build infrastructure.
There has been great support and interest in the proposed new building stronger regions program. Local government ask that the federal government make the announcement of when those guidelines will be announced. There is also very strong support for the Roads to Recovery Program and a sense from my community that this is really important funding that brings huge benefit. However, this funding is on an ad hoc basis, so what my local government asks is that we have consistency of funding for the long term and that we do not have to keep coming back time after time for renewal of funding—that it be incorporated into the funding that the Commonwealth gives local government so that local government can rely on that really important roads funding.
Connections, particularly via telecommunications and transport, are another really important issue. This includes the rollout of mobile phone towers, the NBN and our railway line. Another issue brought to my attention is the impact that the NDIS is going to have on councils. Local governments request an opportunity to work with the NDIS on how that will be delivered in our rural communities.
However, all these issues are underpinned by the need for the involvement of the Commonwealth government, which campaigned at the last election on a slogan that it had a plan for jobs and growth. My questions to the Commonwealth government are: what is your plan for jobs and growth for regional Australia, how will you acknowledge the role of local government and how will you give us a national plan that recognises the role of regional Australia in our growth?
I was pleased to meet with Senator Nash, the Minister for Local Government and Territories, on Wednesday and convey these findings from my local government to her. We have agreed to have regular meetings and I have extended to her an invitation to come to Indi and meet with my local governments in Indi. I am very pleased to say that she has accepted that invitation.
In closing, thank you, local government. Thank you, councillors. Thank you, staff. Thank you for so much of what you do to make Indi such an amazing place to live and to work and for me to be such a proud representative of in this place.