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New program will not make up for past neglect

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MEDIA RELEASE BRUCE SCOTT MP Federal Member for Maranoa

Shadow Minister for Local Government Assistant Shadow Minister for Primary Industry & Rural Matters



The Federal Opposition has welcomed the announcement today o f funding for the Local Government Development Program but said it would not camouflage the Government's lack o f commitment to local government.

M r Scott, Shadow Minister for Local Government, said that the $13 million a year allocated to the LGDP was a joke considering the savage funding cuts to local government during the past 13 years o f Labor Government.

"While the objectives o f the program are laudable, it will not be relevant to many o f Australia's cash strapped local councils, which are forced to increase rates and cut services to make up for their shoddy treatment by Labor at budget time.

"Federal general purpose financial assistance to councils has fallen by 3 per cent in real terms since 1983 [replaces 1993 in original release]. Over the same period the Federal tax take has risen by 49 per cent in real terms", he said.

M r Scott said that much o f the LGDP funding money would never reach local government, with consultants and academics expected to gamer a hefty share.

"To obtain the relatively small amount o f funds available councils will need to go through an elaborate application process that will tie up in red tape council resources that would be much better utilised in providing real services", he said.

M r Scott said he was astonished that M r Howe's own Department was eligible for funding under the Program.

"This is just another example o f smokes and mirrors funding under this Government and will further reduce councils' access to these funds. The National Office o f Local Government received a massive staffing increase in the May budget and it will now have its fingers in this pie".

M r Scott said that the LGDP was accompanied by the usual kit o f expensive brochures and publicity material which had become the hallmark o f Brian Howe's Department.

"Brian Howe spends taxpayers' money like a one-armed windmill on self-promotion", M r Scott said. COMMONWEALTH

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