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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6718


Ms MacTIERNAN (Perth) (13:49): Local government expenditure accounts for more than half of environmental spending across Australia's three spheres of government, and more than a quarter of local government's total annual expenditure. These federal government department figures show that local government is doing the heavy lifting in the environment in this country. The PM, in his surprising remake as a conservationist, should then be very concerned about the $925 million cut to local government and the impact that this will have on important environmental work across the nation.

Even more concerning must be the impact of today's High Court decision in the second Williams case. This is a decision that will threaten the 20 per cent of federal government funds that come directly from the federal government to local government. We can no longer delay putting local government funding on a sound basis and ensuring that local government can continue to deliver critical services across our community.

It is time that the coalition grew up and made an unambiguous commitment to the constitutional recognition of local government. Their behaviour last year in playing ducks and drakes on their support was shameful. We now need to rebuild this consensus and put local government into the centre of our Constitution.