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Local issues taken to Canberra

The Fleurieu App

Staff Reporters

09 July 2024, 8:45 PM

Local issues taken to Canberra

The City of Onkaparinga has been advocating for the federal government to do more to preserve democracy in local government, fund immunisation and develop a national approach to rooftop solar at a national assembly in Canberra.

The council submitted three motions at the 30th annual Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) National General Assembly building on this year’s theme of ‘Building Community Trust’.

Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were joined about 1,200 mayors, shire presidents and councillors at the assembly, held from 2-4 July, to advocate for the community on a national stage.

“This is a powerful and visible way for councils to influence the national policy agenda, advocating for programs and policies that will support us to build stronger communities,” she says.

The City of Onkaparinga’s motions called on the government to:

  • Make a strong commitment to preserving a democratic local government in Australia, including national awareness of minority groups that aim to covertly influence and control elections and disrupt meetings.
  • Develop a national, equitable approach to improving access to rooftop solar for renters and landlords.
  • Fund local governments for immunisations at $19 per administered vaccine, for parity with the payments available to pharmacies under the National Immunisation Program.

“We’ve seen first-hand how the democratic process can be threatened when we were forced to adjourn one of our Council meetings due to disruptive and aggressive behaviour in January 2023,” Mayor Were says.

“That’s why we want to see the Australian Government to work with local government to explore and enact measures such as compulsory voting, improved voting methods and timing, more robust eligibility criteria for candidates, greater penalties for Council meeting disruptions, and compulsory live streaming of meetings.

“We’d also like to see the Australian Government reduce barriers to renters and landlords installing rooftop solar, addressing an equity divide and taking advantage of what’s currently an untapped renewable electricity source.

“Like many councils across Australia, the City of Onkaparinga receives no state or federal funding for our provision of immunisations to the community, so we’re also calling on the Australian Government to provide the same funding it does to pharmacies for each administered vaccine.”

The 2024 National General Assembly of Local Government featured speakers from across Australia on issues crucial to councils, with members debating 160 submitted motions.

Debate on motions is a vehicle for councils from across Australia to canvas ideas and solutions to the challenges facing local government and communities nationally.

Outcomes of motions provide the ALGA and councils with insights on national issues, gauge the level of need associated with such issues, and identify support required for emerging policies, program initiatives and advocacy.

They are also sent to relevant federal government ministers for their official response.

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