Local government councils across the country have expressed their alarm at the Federal Government's intention to cut funding to their sector. Their peak body, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), yesterday published the resolution of their National General Assembly calling for the Government to reverse their decision. The concerns mirror those expressed by the ASU immediately following Budget night.
ASU Assistant National Secretary Greg McLean said, "We support the ALGA's resolution calling on the Government to reverse their decision on local government funding – we recognise both the serious impact the revenue reduction will have on service delivery and the health of local communities."
The ASU's position was originally published here: Local government hit directly and indirectly by Federal Budget, 14 May 2014
Media release from the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) follows.
Councils call for Commonwealth to restore Indexation of Financial Assistance Grants
16 June 2014
Councils from across Australia have voted to call on the Commonwealth Government to reverse the decision included in the 2014 Federal Budget to freeze indexation on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) for the next three years.
The Budget announcement will cut $925 million in revenue to local government by 2017-18.
More than 800 delegates at the 2014 Australian Local Government Association's National General Assembly in Canberra have supported an urgent motion moved from the floor on day one of the Assembly to highlight the impact the Federal Budget's FAGs decision will have local councils and their communities.
ALGA President Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis and Chair of the National General Assembly said these grants are of vital importance to local government and help ensure the provision of equitable levels of local government services to all Australian communities.
"The decision to freeze the indexation of FAGs will impact on the level of local services available to every community across Australia," said Mayor Lewis
"FAGs are a vital source of revenue to local communities. They are used to maintain a range of infrastructure including local roads, bridges, parks, swimming pools, libraries and community halls as well as services to the young, the elderly and community groups of all kinds."
Delegates called for indexation of FAGs in line with CPI and population growth to be restored immediately by the Commonwealth.
Delegates also moved to reject the proposal from the National Commission of Audit in which the Commission recommends that tied grants to local government should cease, and that the services that these funds support should be left to local and state governments to prioritise and provide to the communities they service.
Acknowledging that the Government proposes to consider this issue further in the White Paper on Reform of the Federation, delegates also resolved that it was imperative that the Commonwealth consult with local government, the states and territories and local communities in the development of the White Paper on Reform of the Federation and the White Paper on Taxation; that the Government's White Papers must reflect the wishes of the Australian people; and that future Federal-state and local financial relationship arrangements must ensure long term sustainable distribution of taxation revenues between the levels of government that are commensurate with the roles and responsibilities of each level of government in our modern Federation.
Mayor Lewis said with the upcoming White Paper on the Reform of Federation and the White Paper on Taxation it was important there was full consultation and debate surrounding the role of all levels of government in the Federation and the financial relationship between these levels of government.
Mayor Lewis said the Commission of Audit Recommendations and the decision to freeze the indexation of FAGs threatens to undermine genuine consideration of these issues in the White Paper processes.
A second urgent motion was also debated and passed by the Assembly, calling on the Federal Government to reverse the decision to cease payments under the National Partnership Agreement on Certain Pensioner Concessions for Pensioner Concession Cards and Senior Card Holders that will negatively impact on council budgets.