The Central Desert Shire Council welcomes the Federal Government's commitment to holding a referendum in September on the recognition of local government in the constitution. The 'yes' campaign will be spearheaded by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA). ALGA President Felicity-ann Lewis has declared that the national campaign to convince Australians to vote 'yes' to include local government in the Constitution to secure funding for local services and infrastructure will intensify now that the Federal Government has given its commitment to a September 2013 referendum.
"The Government's decision to support holding a referendum at the time of the September federal election is the signal we have been waiting for to carry forward our fight to protect federal funding for councils," Mayor Lewis said.
"As we have argued for many years, the only way to protect direct federal funding for community services and infrastructure is to have local government recognised in the Australian Constitution. Councils want financial certainty. They need formal recognition as legitimate recipients of direct federal funding. Without it, funding under programs such as Roads to Recovery are at risk of High Court challenge."
Roads to Recovery funding is a vital source of funding to the Central Desert Shire Council with many significant roads projects being supported by these funds. The following projects could not have occurred without Roads to Recovery funding:
- Nyirripi sacred soakage by-pass and upgrade and the Nyirripi airport road upgrade,
- Works in Yuelamu including sealing the hill road, reseals of internal roads and a major access road upgrade,
- Airport access road upgrade in Willowra, and
- Reseals in Laramba which are planned in the upcoming months.
"As I have said on numerous occasions, local government wants to win this referendum which is in the interests of every local community. We accept that getting a referendum passed will be a major challenge. But local governments across the country support the financial recognition option and are committed to working hard within their local communities to get a referendum on the question of financial recognition passed by the majority of voters in the majority of states."
For more information on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government please see the ALGA website.