Federal Local Government Minister Simon Crean
Federal Local Government Minister Simon Crean Inga Williams

Bipartisan political support labelled 'vital' in inquiry

DESPITE calls for true bipartisan support for a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government, both major parties have pointed the finger at the other to take action.

A parliamentary inquiry into the issue released a preliminary report yesterday, calling for the referendum to be completed this year.

While the recommendation was on the basis that both major parties had to come out in support of the proposal, both Federal Local Government Minister Simon Crean and his Coalition counterpart Senator Barnaby Joyce have put the onus on the opposite side of politics.

In evidence it gave to the inquiry last week, the Australian Local Government Association said bipartisan political support was vital to the success of a vote on recognition of council in the constitution.

While Mr Crean said the government was already engaging with the states and territories on the issue, he called on the Coalition to lobby states and "get behind constitutional recognition".

Similarly, Senator Joyce said that while it was vitally important local government was given the support needed to deliver essential services, he awaited Mr Crean's official response and "the vigour by which he pursues them".

Mr Crean said it was also essential the ALGA be active in lobbying state and territory government to ensure the referendum goes ahead, despite the peak council association already gaining majority approval from the second tier of government.

In evidence given to the inquiry last week, ALGA representatives said they had been lobbying for the change since 2007.

But the association was also concerned the federal election could jeopardise the chance of a successful yes vote on the issue in 2013.

Mr Crean said the government's official response to the inquiry would be forthcoming.



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