Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell. The Northern Star

Mayors take regions case to Canberra

MORE than 500 mayors from around Australia will take their local knowledge to Canberra when the first Council of Local Government meets on Tuesday.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said she would ask Kevin Rudd for $189 million to fund projects in the region and local council area, such as improved roads – and she won’t be asking alone.

She will be joined by Kyogle mayor Ross Brown, Ballina mayor Phillip Silver, Richmond Valley deputy mayor Shirley Wheatley, and Byron Bay mayor Jan Barham, and will spend the day discussing the issues facing local government.

Local government representatives see the day as an opportunity to forge closer links with the Federal Government and to ask for constitutional recognition.

“It’s very exciting,” Cr Dowell said.

Currently local governments are not mentioned in the Constitution, which means they exist at the whim of the various state governments.

“We require enshrinement in the Constitution,” Cr Dowell said.

For local government to be recognised in the Constitution a referendum would need to be held.
“According to our polling 71 per cent of people support the need for constitutional recognition,” Cr Dowell said.

“We were very buoyed by the response,” she said.
The wish lists being taken to Canberra
  • Lismore: An upgrade of Lismore Base Hospital, a rail link between Casino and the Gold Coast, more spent on roads, a regional recycling centre, a new art gallery, a youth space in the CBD, an upgrade of Nesbitt Park, and a youth plaza at Goonellabah.
  • Kyogle: Money to fund a rail link between South-East Queensland and Northern NSW, and a carbon tax on plantations.
  • Richmond Valley: Money for roads, libraries, and a swimming pool for Evans Head.
  • Byron: The reinstatement of railways in the region, a national approach to coastal management, and funds to provide affordable housing.
  • Ballina: A community centre at Lennox Head, an airport terminal upgrade and two new bridges in Teven.

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