Council push for constitutional recognition
  • Thursday 27 October 2011

Sunshine Coast Council has put its case forward for recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution.

At today’s Ordinary Meeting, council agreed to send a submission to the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition that supports a change to the Australian Constitution.

Mayor Bob Abbot said there is currently no recognition of local councils in the Constitution.

"In less than four years the first Sunshine Coast Council has done a lot to make our community even better with more libraries, parks, roads and pathways than ever before," Cr Abbot said.

"But according to Australia’s Constitution the Sunshine Coast Council, and every other council in the country, doesn’t exist."

Cr Abbot said achieving constitutional recognition is needed to secure the financial and democratic future of local government.

"Recognition will pave the way for local government to receive funding directly from the Federal Government without having to pass the funding through the State Government," Cr Abbot said.

"Constitutional recognition will not only strengthen the relationship between local government and the Federal Government, it will also provide financial security for councils and their communities.

"Recognition will also guarantee that local councils across the country are democratically elected."

Cr Abbot said the need for reform in this area was highlighted in 2009 in a High Court judgement that indicated the Australian Government does not have the power to directly fund Local Government to achieve national objectives.

"The inclusion of local government in the Australian Constitution is essential to stem the current uncertainty arising from the High Court decision, which has cast doubt on the power of the Commonwealth to continue to provide funds directly to local government," he said.

"Councils have been the closest level of government to local communities since the first council was established in Australia in 1840 – constitutional recognition is long overdue."

The campaign for the recognition of Local Government in the Australian Constitution is being led by the Australian Local Government Association. Visit www.localgovrecognition.gov.au for more information and council encourages the community to a make a submission by November 4.