Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Coalition local government policy.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government Coalition Local Government Policy

The Liberal and National Party Coalition today released the Building Stronger Local Government policy.

Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Ian Macdonald, said the Coalition has demonstrated over the last five years that it can deliver a range of policies and programmes to sustain local communities and help build vibrant local economies by working cooperatively with local government and local communities.

"Over the last three years the Howard Government has delivered a significant increase in funding to local government and this will continue under a re-elected Coalition government," Senator Macdonald said.

"The Coalition Government is providing almost $1.8 billion this year in direct funding for local roads and for general purpose payments which is a record level of funding for local government. This doesn’t include additional grant funding like the extensive Networking the Nation grants to local government."

"There is more to be achieved yet and a re-elected Howard Government will build on this platform and continue to develop strong partnerships with local government to improve service delivery to local communities," Senator Macdonald said.

Senator Macdonald said the policy addressed a number of the key policy requests from Australian Local Government:

Local Roads. A re-elected Howard Government will extend the highly successful Black Spot Road funding programme by $180 million over four years from 2002-03 to 2005/06. This is on top of the $1.2 bn local Roads to Recovery programme paid directly to councils.


Cost-Shifting. The Coalition will undertake a review into cost shifting by State governments to local government which will examine how decisions of State governments are imposing increased responsibilities and financial demands on local government many of whom have a limited ability to raise additional revenue.


Financial Assistance Grants. A Howard Government will increase Financial Assistance Grants to local government under current escalation factors for CPI and population growth. ●

Constitutional recognition. The Coalition will actively work with State and national Local Government Associations in raising the debate concerning Constitutional recognition of local government. Realistically, Constitutional change can only occur if States and community are both willing to support a referendum on this issue. That requires an increased level of debate and


awareness of this issue.

Regional Air Services. The Coalition will reduce the costs of regional airlines by removing the enroute air traffic control charges imposed by Airservices Australia. This exemption will reduce the costs on regional airlines by $6 million per year. This will also cover aeromedical operators such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.



Senator Macdonald announced a new initiative to expand the Rural Transaction Centre programme by allocating funding so small and remote councils can provide services on-line and to communities which are a considerable distance from the main council office.

"It builds on the 172 RTCs already funded and commissioned putting financial, government and other services into small rural communities."

"I congratulate and thank the Local Government Association of Queensland who worked with the Government to develop this innovative proposal for improved council services to rural communities. By involving local government, this initiative is tailor made for councils and the communities they serve."

Senator Macdonald said Labor’s alternative is to cut regional funding programmes currently accessed by local councils such as Regional Solutions, instead expecting councils to increase borrowings as an alternative to Government grants.

"Of 5,757 words contained in the Beazley policy for Local Government, there is not one word about local road funding. Labor axed the Black Spots programme when last in office and have declined to commit to extending the programme if they are elected."

"Over five years in Opposition, Labor touted and promised funding boosts to Councils, but now they have squibbed. Labor hasn’t even committed to CPI increases."

"Labor is simply offering to cost-shift the burden of debt from the Beazley Bank Card to the Council Master Card."

"A repeat dose of Labor’s record on interest rates, would increase Council costs - meaning increased council rates or reduced local services to residents."

"The savings, based on average council debt, under our interest rates compared to Labor’s record on interest rates is around $800,000 per year per council. Which means more money going to local services."

"Only a Howard Government can offer the strong financial management and economic certainty that councils need in these unstable times," Senator Macdonald said.

M363/2001 Friday, 2 November 2001

Media contact: David Moore 07 4771 3066 / 0417 774 724