Tweed mayor Barry Longland.
Tweed mayor Barry Longland. John Gass

Council urges a ‘yes’ vote at federal referendum

TWEED Shire Council is urging residents to vote in support of the referendum on recognising local government in the constitution or risk millions of dollars in Federal Government funding.

Mayor Barry Longland said if the referendum, which will be held at the same time as the yet to be announced federal election, failed the area could miss out on important infrastructure.

"For some time, many really important local council projects such as the Murwillumbah Community Centre and Jack Evans Boat Harbour upgrade have been possible due to direct Federal funding," Cr Longland said.

"A yes vote will entrench the arrangements that for more than 10 years, have provided federal funding at local council level."

He said more than $16 million had been allocated to Tweed Shire Council through direct federal funding for projects such as the Arkinstall Park upgrade, Margaret Olley Art Centre, Knox Park upgrade, the Tweed Heads street scaping, affordable housing assistance, regional hockey facilities in Murwillumbah and the Murwillumbah Community Centre, as well as many other smaller community facilities.

The Federal Government is providing $10.5 million of public money to the 'yes' campaign for the referendum but only $500,000 to the 'no' case.

Some, like the No Power Grab group who are campaigning against the referendum, see this inequity as further evidence that it will increase Canberra's power at the expense of local communities.

"Strings will be attached to funding provided to local government based on the priorities of Canberra politicians and bureaucrats," the group's website states.

"That means services will be based on Canberra's convenience and political agendas, not on local community need."

The yes case has the support of the Labor Party and some elements of the Liberal National Party.

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