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Govt must move fast to recognise local govt though election referendum

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 2 Apr 2013

Federal Labor is getting dangerously close to missing the deadline to hold a referendum on local government constitutional recognition to coincide with the September election, said Greens local government spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon, following reports today of NSW councils in dire need of secure federal funding to fix neglected bridges (SMH today, 'Councils go cap in hand to O'Farrell, Gillard for quick fix on decaying infrastructure').

"Federal Labor has still not given a clear indication about whether it will hold a referendum to recognise local government in the constitution", said Senator Rhiannon.

"Time is running out to put the necessary legislation before parliament to hold the referendum.

"Educating the electorate about the importance of the referendum also needs to be top of the government's to do list. 

"Reports show there are hundreds of bridges in NSW in urgent need of repair, creating a big financial burden on councils.

"A referendum at the September federal election is necessary to secure federal funding for local councils to maintain safer roads and bridges and create sustainable transport options.

"The Greens support the federal government's continued funding of the Roads to Recovery program.

"The referendum is key to ensuring this and other programs that involve direct payments from the Commonwealth to local governments are secure into the future," Senator Rhiannon said.

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