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Minister jumping the gun on local government changes



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Issued 26/3/99 No or n e w : l U n u N cteff

MINISTER JUMPING THE GUN ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHANGES

The Federal Minister for Local Government, Senator lan McDonald, is pre-empting Parliamentary processes and the Premiers’ Conference in telling local councils how i changes to Local Government financial assistance grants, which will accompany its

I proposed tax changes, will operate.

Acting President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Councillor John Ross, said today that the circular which the Minister had sent to all councils set out the procedures for winding up the current federal financial assistance

giants to Local Government as if this were a fa it accompli.

“The Federal Government is taking for granted that its proposals will be successful in the Senate and, further, that they will meet with the approval of the Premiers in April,” Cr Ross said.

“ALGA has strongly opposed the passing to the States of responsibility for Local Government financial assistance,” Cr Ross said.

“We have also sought assurance from the Government that any changes would include safeguards to give effect to the Federal Government’s promise that Local Government would not be disadvantaged by the new arrangements.

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“The Government continues to tom a deaf ear to our concerns," Cr Ross said. ; “The bills introduced into Parliament this week fail to lay down any guarantees as to the continuation of a viable system of financial assistance grants in the hands of the . States.” . _

' Cr Ross said that on the one hand the Government was relying on the effectiveness of : an intergovernmental agreement to provide the Government’s guarantees and at the same time, in the absence of such an agreement, it was jumping the gun on the successful passage of the new legislation through the House and the Senate by telling

councils about detail of the wind-up the current system.

Under the Government’s proposed new tax system, 25 years of direct Commonwealth untied financial assistance to Local Government will end.

“ALGA believes this represents a blinkered and narrow view o f federalism, and ends a quarter of a century of Commonwealth commitment to national standards of local . community services," Cr Ross said. “This comes on top of still unresolved concerns over the GST legislation."

Further information Cr John Ross, Acting President Chris Bell, ALGA Policy M anager (08) 8754 2035 (02) 6281 1211 Ext 22

ACN 00S nl 3 576 I