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Constitutional recognition of local govt referendum: inquiry evidence backs go ahead

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 20 Feb 2013

With QLD Premier Campbell Newman writing to his fellow Premiers calling on them to support a referendum on constitutional recognition of local government at the upcoming election, and strong support from local councils around Australia, it is clear momentum is building for a referendum so this important level of government is recognised, says Australian Greens local government spokesperson Lee Rhiannon commenting on parliamentary committee hearings in Sydney today.

"Queensland Premier Campbell Newman's enthusiasm for a referendum is matched by NSW and Queensland local councils which are strongly behind a referendum this year to provide financial certainty so key services can be delivered to local communities," Senator Rhiannon said.

"There is broad support for the third tier of government to be recognised in the Constitution to ensure the Commonwealth's power to directly fund local government is legitimised.

"Councils warned the inquiry today that unless direct funding by the federal government can be guaranteed residents will face either fewer services or higher rates.

"Local councils are now in the business of delivering not only traditional services like libraries and rubbish collection but also affordable housing and public transport projects.

"A 2009 High Court case created uncertainty around the ability of the federal government to provide direct grants to local councils.

"The clear recommendation of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition is that this referendum should go ahead.

"The Gillard government now needs to do the leg work and champion the change," Senator Rhiannon said.



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