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Rural councils under threat.



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MEDIA STATEMENT

 

Senator Sue Mackay

Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories

and Local Government

 

12/99 3 March 1999

 

 

RURAL COUNCILS UNDER THREAT

 

 

Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Sue Mackay, said evidence today to the Senate Select Committee on a New Tax System meant that many Councils in rural and remote Australia could be under threat.

 

In response to questioning at the Hearing by Senator Mackay, the President of the Australian Local Government Association, Cr John Campbell, said that the tax package has created great fear and concern about the future for Local Government.

 

“The Government intends to hand over Local Government grants funding to the States on the basis of a flimsy agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, most likely a Memorandum of Understanding” said Senator Mackay.

 

“Many rural and remote Councils rely on Commonwealth funding for over 50% of their revenue because of the small number of ratepayers.

 

“It is these very communities who need services the most.

 

“Cr Campbell expressed grave concern that there was no guarantee that States would not renege on the deal, and no guarantee that the Commonwealth would have the political will to enforce such an agreement.

 

“Local Government will be lining up to the States for funding, along with schools and hospitals.

 

“Any reduction in funding will hit hardest in rural and remote areas. If funding to local Councils in rural and remote areas is cut - many Councils may no longer be viable, and the essential services they provide will be lost from communities.

 

“In some remote parts of Australia those services extend to power generation, undertaking and crematoriums, swimming pools and other recreational facilities, aged and disabled care, school holiday programs and health centres.

 

“Councils provide the services because the private sector will not provide them. If Councils are squeezed out of existence then no one will provide these services - hastening the decline of many remote and rural communities.”

 

 

Further information: Jane O’Dwyer (02) 6277 3336 or 041993 7336

 

 

 

LK