Gwydir joins push for Local Government Constitutional recognition

January 5, 2009

“I don’t think we’ll ever get there,” was how Deputy Mayor, David Rose felt about the constitutional referendum being worked on by the Local Government Constitutional Summit held recently in Canberra.

Mayor, Bob Tremain and Deputy Mayor, David Rose both attended the Local Government Summit.

Councillor David Rose’s pessimism about the chances of Local Government being recognised in the Constitution was based on information from experts who addressed the conference. They said that it would be very difficult to get all the States to agree, because it will be taking away some of their powers and responsibilities. He also said historically, amendments to the constitution are notoriously difficult to achieve.

Cr Tremain said he thought the enthusiasm of the Rudd government for the proposal is a good start, with Leader of The Nationals Warren Truss also in support. However, he said without the support of Malcolm Turnbull, Leader of the Liberal Party, which has not yet been secured, it would not be successful.

The resolution which was unanimously supported by delegates at the summit said that “to ensure the quality of planning and delivery of services and infrastructure provided to all Australians, and the ongoing sustainability of local government, any constitutional amendment put to the people in a referendum by the Australian Parliament should reflect the following principles:

  • The Australian people should be represented in the community by democratically elected and accountable local government representatives.
  • The power of the Commonwealth to provide direct funding to local government should be explicitly recognised and
  • If a new preamble is proposed, it should ensure that local government is recognised as one of the components making up the modern Australian Federation.”

It was stressed at the summit that the education of the voter would primarily be in the hands of local government to sell its cause.