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Darren Chester urges Australian Councils to submit concerns on financial sustainability and cost shifting by 3 May 2024

Albanese government's inquiry into local government's financial sustainability is criticised as a broken promise, aiming to delay support for 537 councils. Preceding pledges of 'fair increases' in funding resulted in cuts, asserts Chester.

By news@gippsland - 21st March 2024 - Back to News

The Albanese government's decision to launch an inquiry into the financial sustainability of local government is another broken promise and a cynical attempt to stall action to deliver more support for 537 councils across Australia. Before the 2022 Federal election the Labor Party promised 'fair increases' to local government funding but has actually delivered cuts to regional programs which councils relied on, according to Shadow Minister for Local Government Darren Chester.

"It's time to send a strong message to the Albanese government that local councils should not be taken for granted and their work to deliver liveable communities deserves more respect than they are receiving today," says Darren Chester MP

Budget promise failure

Mr Chester said, "The Prime Minister is kicking the can down a pot-holed road to avoid making any new commitments to Australia's 537 local councils in this year's budget. Just a month ago, the Australian Local Government Association publicly warned that time was 'running out for the federal government to deliver on its pre-election promise of fair increases to Financial Assistance Grants to Australia's 537 local governments'.

"Instead of keeping its promise, we have yet another review from a government which has failed to deliver a single project under its regional grants program after almost two years in office," he said.

Local government inquiry

Mr Chester said the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport would inquire into and report on local government matters, with a particular focus on:

  • The financial sustainability and funding of local government
  • The changing infrastructure and service delivery obligations of local government
  • Any structural impediments to security for local government workers and infrastructure and service delivery
  • Trends in the attraction and retention of a skilled workforce in the local government sector, including impacts of labour hire practices
  • The role of the Australian government in addressing issues raised in relation to the above
  • Other relevant issues

"Submissions are due by May 3 which is an admission there will be no new funding for local government in this year's budget and we can expect Cabinet Ministers to hide behind talking points that they 'can't possibly speculate while the inquiry is underway'," Mr Chester said.

Ratepayer budget strain

Mr Chester also said, "In the middle of a cost of living crisis, the burden will fall on family budgets as ratepayers will be forced to fund the widening gaps in demand for new infrastructure, maintenance and critical services."

"Despite the cynicism of this decision, I urge councils across Australia to make a submission to the inquiry and highlight concerns around financial sustainability, cost shifting, disaster resilience and workforce shortages."

"The Minister has outsourced her job to a Parliamentary committee but it's important that local councils have their voices heard in this process. It's time to send a strong message to the Albanese government that local councils should not be taken for granted and their work to deliver liveable communities deserves more respect than they are receiving today," Mr Chester concluded.

Pictures from Darren Chester MP Facebook page.


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