Cash strapped local councils deserve constitutional recognition
Following today's Daily Telegraph report about local council rate pressures Senator Lee Rhiannon has renewed the Australian Greens' call for a federal referendum on constitutional recognition of local government to help provide funding security for councils ("Cashed up councils to sting families", p 1 Daily Telegraph).
"Local councils are being asked to do more with less, delivering not only planning services, roads and rubbish but also human and welfare services," Senator Rhiannon said.
"Cost shifting from the other two tiers of government has also increased the burden on councils.
"Rate caps in NSW constrain rate rises to the CPI and have failed to keep up with the cost of living.
"Only after a special application process to the NSW government, and extensive public consultation, can rates be lifted higher.
"A 2006 Pricewaterhouse Coopers report identified a $14.5 billion backlog in work required to renew local government infrastructure. It also found 10-30 percent of councils faced financial sustainability issues.
"Councils are dependent on federal government grants to fulfil many of their obligations to residents.
"A referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government is overdue, so federal government funding to local councils is assured," Senator Rhiannon said.