08 May 2013

Federal Member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland has welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to go ahead with a referendum on September 14 on the financial recognition of local government in the Constitution.

Ms Rowland, who chaired the Joint Select Committee on the Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, said this was a vitally important issue that needs to be addressed.

“Local councils take responsibility for much more than ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ and local communities rely on this high level of service being maintained,” Ms Rowland said.

“We all rely on our local roads, parks, libraries and childcare centres and we must ensure they can be properly funded, this referendum will ensure the Commonwealth is within its powers to do that.

“Since I have been elected I have worked with Blacktown Council on a number of Federally funded initiatives, including rebuilding the Riverstone Girl Guides Hall, upgrading Burdekin Road and getting sporting facilities upgraded, all of this could be challenged in the High Court unless we vote yes in this referendum.”

Ms Rowland said recent High Court decisions meant that amending the Constitution was a matter of some urgency.

‘”Hundreds of community services provided by local government could potentially be under threat if the Australian Government cannot continue to fund local government directly,” Ms Rowland said.

“The proposal for a 2013 referendum is about ensuring that benefits to local communities can still be delivered by local government, but funded by the Australian Government.”

A referendum will allow Australians to exercise their right to amend the Australian Constitution to guarantee the ability of the Commonwealth Government to continue to directly fund essential community infrastructure, such as building and upgrading roads, through programs like Roads to Recovery.

Media contact: Nick Trainor – 0407 078 138

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