GET READY TO DECIDE: The region’s mayors have put their support behind local governments being recognised in the Constitution.
GET READY TO DECIDE: The region’s mayors have put their support behind local governments being recognised in the Constitution. Thinkstock

Referendum gets ‘yes’ from mayors

THE announcement of a referendum into constitutional recognition of local governments has sparked support for the 'Yes' campaign from the region's mayors.

The referendum into the issue is set to coincide with this year's Federal Election.

Lockyer Valley Regional Mayor Steve Jones said a yes vote by the public would ensure councils were able to receive direct payments from the Federal Government, a process that is currently legally questionable.

"I think what it does do is highlight the importance of local government," Cr Jones said.

"The biggest benefit is it will give us a pass so the federal money can come straight to us instead of going through State Government.

"This is an important issue and it needs to be given the chance to get up."

Cr Jones said there were only a few months before residents would vote, but there would be time for the issue to be publicised.

"The average man most likely has no idea about this issue and to be honest he probably doesn't care, which is why it will be important that organisations like Australian Local Government Association, Local Government Association of Queensland have a statewide campaign and if they do that they will have plenty of time to educate people."

Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the vote was a long time coming.

"I think without the middle man handling the money, we can achieve a lot more and we can see better value for the dollar," he said.

"There is always a worry with a referendum on top of another election, but I think people are wise enough to see the benefits of it.

"Local government has been there a long time and not to be constitutionally recognised just doesn't make sense."

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, as the LGAQ representative for Somerset and Lockyer, said the referendum was crucial to giving the people of Australia recognition.

"They hold the purse strings to Australia and it's about time that local government has the chance to fight for the people of their region," he said.

"In the long run I think people will understand that it's about people, not politics.

"It's about supporting the rights of people and for this we need a yes."

ALGA president Felicity-ann Lewis said the yes campaign would intensify ahead of the referendum.

 

"As we have argued for many years, the only way to protect direct federal funding for community services and infrastructure is to have local government recognised in the Australian Constitution," she said.


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