Support for constitutional recognition of local government
  • Wednesday 06 April 2011

Sunshine Coast Council has declared its support for the recognition of Local Government in the Australian Constitution.

At today’s Ordinary Meeting, council agreed to join the national campaign and write to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and local Federal MPs requesting their support for a referendum by 2013 to change the Constitution to allow financial recognition of Local Government.

Mayor Bob 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.

"While Local Government is recognised under the State Constitution, there is no recognition of local councils as the third tier of government in the Australian Constitution," Cr Abbot said.

"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.

"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."

Cr Abbot said that during the 2010 Federal election campaign Prime Minister Julia Gillard had committed to holding a national referendum on whether local councils should be recognised in the Australian Constitution.

"Local government has been the closest level of government providing direct services to local communities since the first council was established in Australia in 1840 – constitutional recognition is long overdue," Cr Abbot said.

"Today’s decision will see the Sunshine Coast Council join the national campaign and strongly advocate to the Prime Minister that she keeps her election promise."

The campaign for the recognition of Local Government in the Australian Constitution is being led by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).