Mayors and councillors from across Australia have launched a nationwide coalition advocating for stronger action on climate change.
Local Leaders – an initiative from the Cities Power Partnership – was launched at a breakfast event held in Canberra during the National General Assembly of local councils from across Australia.
Dr Portia Odell, Director of the Cities Power Partnership, a network of local governments working towards net zero emissions, said local governments have long been leading the way on actions that reduce emissions and set communities up for a thriving future.
But she said their voice was often left out of the media.
“The Cities Power Partnership team will work with our Local Leaders on climate-related media opportunities where they can represent their community on a local, national and sometimes even international level,” Dr Odell said.
Local Leaders membership is open to councillors from the 170-plus councils around Australia that are part of the Cities Power Partnership.
Many of the councils were represented at the 28th National General Assembly of Local Government, held from June 20-22.
About 1,000 delegates attended, including Central Coast administrator Rik Hart.
He gave a summary of the assembly at the June 28 meeting of council-under-administration.
He said the assembly heard that local government representation has been re-introduced to the federal government’s Natonal Cabinet and Mr Hart says this should benefit councils at all levels.
More money for roads and for disaster mitigation for councils was announced at the conference and the importance of the untied financial assistance grants (FAG) was discussed.
The FAG was set many years ago at 1 per cent of the national taxation base that is collected by the federal government, but over time that has been reduced to about half a per cent – “0.53 per cent to be exact,” Mr Hart said.
“Local Government only collects about 3.5 per cent of total taxes across Australia and needs the State and Federal assistance in funding,” Mr Hart said.
There were about 106 motions at the conference but only half were addressed as time ran out and the executive of the Local Government Association of Australia will deal with the rest.
Mr Hart said regional councils were pushing back against wind and solar farms in their backyards at the expense of the eastern seaboard.
And nuclear energy was discussed.
“There was a close call on a resolution to overturn the ban on investigating nuclear energy as a source of energy for Australia and that is certainly a substantive change as per the voting blocs that have been around previously,” Mr Hart said.
“Funding is a major problem for councils; their number one concern moving forward,” he said.
A press release from the ALGA said councillors committed to partnering with the Australian Government to progress critical reforms, including national productivity, climate change transition, housing affordability including increased social housing, road safety reforms, and restoring integrity of federal funding to local government.
The Assembly committed to progressing the next step of Closing the Gap and passed a motion supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
It noted that more needs to be done on mitigation and the prevention of climate-induced natural disasters.
The Assembly discussed the global challenges to democracy and the critical importance of local government and reaffirmed its commitment to strong local leadership, transparency and public accountability, free and fair elections and local democracy.