The cost of maintaining and improving local government infrastructure and a review of Commonwealth financial assistance grants to local government were among matters discussed at the Local Government Ministers’ Conference in Perth this morning.
Western Australian Local Government Minister Paul Omodei, who chaired the conference, said there was also a wide-ranging discussion by Ministers on local government reform across all jurisdictions and the implication of tax reform for local government.
Commonwealth Minister Senator Ian Macdonald agreed to examine a request for the development of planning and engineering guidelines for hillside management and development, acknowledging the issue as important for many local governments across Australia.
Senator Macdonald said the Commonwealth would contribute to the cost of developing guidelines if the States and Territories would also contribute.
Ministers were told that tenders were now being assessed for the preparation of an infrastructure financing manual - an initiative of the Ministerial Council.
Known within the council as the ‘infrastructure cookbook’, the manual is intended to give councils advice on a variety of financing mechanisms for long-term management of their infrastructure.
The Ministers resolved to time next year’s conference in order to consider the outcomes of the statutory review of the Commonwealth’s financial assistance grants to local government.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission will begin public hearings next week as part of the review.
Commonwealth grants to local government this year will total $1.32 billion, an increase of $51 million on last financial year.
As well as Mr Omodei and Senator Macdonald, the conference included NSW Minister Harry Woods, Victorian Minister Bob Cameron, Terry Mackenroth from Queensland and Loraine Braham from the Northern Territory.
Other States were represented by departmental officers, and the Australian Local Government Association had observer status.
Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700