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ALGA addresses second hearing into 2013 referendum

Filed under: News,Top Stories |

The Australian Local Government Association reinforced the sector’s commitment on February 20 to a referendum to recognise local government in the Constitution .

President, Felicity-ann Lewis, (pictured) appeared before the second public hearing of the Joint Select Committee charged with investigating the likelihood of Australians voting “yes” in a 2013 referendum to coincide with the 14 September Federal election.

Felicity-ann_LewisThe committee’s preliminary report and the recommendations of a previous Expert Panel report recognised several preconditions for referendum success:

  • the need for strong bipartisan support;
  • the Commonwealth negotiating with state and territory governments to achieve their support for financial recognition;
  • a public information campaign to achieve informed and positive community engagement; and
  • changes to the referendum process to allow public funding of referendum campaigns.

“We are now less than seven months out from a referendum if one is to be held at the time of a federal election and we have previously raised concerns about the limited time available for making the necessary changes to the Commonwealth legislation which governs referendum processes,” Mayor Lewis said.

“One of the Committee’s recommendations was for the Government to release a draft Constitutional Amendment Bill by 31 January for public consultation. Although this hasn’t been done, Local Government Minister, Simon Crean, has assured ALGA there is enough time to meet the preconditions and he gave strong assurances that the referendum could go ahead.

Mayor Lewis said local government was focused on engaging state governments and encouraging them to support the proposed change.

“I have written to Premiers and Chief Ministers urging them to engage with Minister Crean and their state local government association presidents. I have personally spoken to a number of local government ministers and Premiers asking them to support the proposal.”