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Local government to converge on Canberra

Almost a thousand mayors and councillors from around Australia are headed to the nation’s capital for the annual national assembly of local government.

The three-day gathering, which starts in Canberra on Monday, comes at a time of renewed focus on the ability of the third tier of government to deliver for the communities it represents.

While the country’s 537 councils are committed to facilitating affordable housing, fewer emissions, better health and reduced cost-of-living pressures, many are dealing with a revenue crisis, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) said.

COVID, natural disaster impacts and caps on sources of income were all blamed for the lack of financial security.

As a result, some councils had to contemplate service cuts and facility closures, and avoiding this would be the key focus of the event, the association said.

ALGA president Linda Scott said motions passed at last year’s national assembly underpinned the association’s advocacy in the lead-up to the federal election.

“I am pleased to report that, working together to advocate to all parties and candidates, we were able to secure major funding and policy commitments that will support every Australian community,” she said.

Reinstating local government representation to national cabinet was among the association’s most prominent recent achievements, Ms Scott said.

The association previously participated in Council of Australian Governments meetings, however it was excluded when this structure was replaced with the national cabinet in 2020. Labor has pledged to add local government to national cabinet.

This year’s delegates will hear from Governor-General David Hurley, Infrastructure Minister Catherine King and Agriculture Minister Murray Watt.

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