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$10.5m backs recognition of local government

Barry Longland is in Canberra to talk about constitutional recognition of local government.
Barry Longland is in Canberra to talk about constitutional recognition of local government. John Gass

TWEED mayor Barry Longland is in Canberra to support the recognition of local government in the constitution.

His visit comes in the wake of an announcement made yesterday by Minister for Local Government Anthony Albanese to provide up to $10.5 million funding to proponents of the 'Yes' and 'No' cases for the proposal to change the constitution to recognise local government.

On Mr Albanese's website he said the proposed amendment had strong bipartisan support at the federal level.

"Federal Members of Parliament voted 134 to 2 in favour of changing the constitution to recognise local government," he said.

"To promote public discussion of the proposed amendment, the government will provide funding to proponents of the 'Yes' and 'No' cases to assist them to take their cases to the community."

The amount of funding to be provided for each case will reflect the proportion of members that voted for and against the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) Amendment Bill 2013.

Over 98 per cent voted for and less than 2 per cent voted against this bill.

This is an extremely important move to recognise local government as a tier of government in Australia.

"Accordingly, $10 million will be provided to the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to assist it in its promotion of the 'Yes' case," Mr Albanese said.

"ALGA has long been active in promoting constitutional recognition of local government along with its member councils and shires."

Cr Longland said all mayors were attending a national general assembly to debate the issue.

"The 'Yes' vote is what we want," he said.

He spoke to the Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the issue over dinner on Sunday night and told My Daily News the move to recognise local government in the constitution was "very symbolic."

"This is an extremely important move to recognise local government as a tier of government in Australia," he said.

"Any opposition to the referendum question at the upcoming election is likely to come from the state government."

He said the status of local governments as corporations was established under a state government act.

"This needs to be challenged," he said.

"It's a simple move to recognise local government in the constitution, but a very symbolic one," he said.

"We need to bring the constitution in to the 21st century."

Topics:  barry longland federal election 2013 julia gillard referendum tweed shire council



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