The ALGA National General Assembly has officially kicked off in Canberra, with opening addresses from newly-sworn in Governor General Sam Mostyn, Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Bridget McKenzie and ALGA President Linda Scott. 

Speaking in her first public address since being sworn in as Governor General on 1 July, Sam Mostyn reflected on her swearing-in speech, which emphasised the importance of care and kindness – qualities Ms Mostyn said perfectly embody the work of local governments. 

“It is local governments that make a significant difference in the lives of so many, so my areas of focus in my new role could not be more timely,” she said. 

Ms Mostyn commended attendees, stating it is the work that local governments do that build community trust.

“Trust which is desperately needed in challenging times, as we grapple with housing supply challenges, and deal with the ongoing impacts, and constant threat, of natural disasters in our communities.” 

Ms Mostyn also emphasised her priority as Governor General will be to listen to the aspirations of young people. 

“These people are engaged in local government, and it’s important that we teach this part of the community how democracy works.” 

Federal Minister of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King

Minister King used her address to highlight the fact that the government is very aware of the challenges facing local governments around Australia and that everyone is dealing with the same challenges – housing, roads and infrastructure. 

“We do understand this, and we do want to help, in particular by taking the burden of road maintenance off ratepayers,” Minister King said. 

She also encouraged all attendees to take part in the House of Representative’s current inquiry’s into local government sustainability to ensure all perspectives are being heard.  

Senator McKenzie honed in on the conference theme of trust – arguing that breaches of trust between politicians and people damages democracy – and told attendees it’s everyone’s job to call governments out when they fail. 

She also recognised President Linda Scott for her work in calling out the Federal Government for backing down on their local government funding promises. 

“Unless you call it out broken promises, there will be more of the same,” Senator McKenzie said. 

Senator McKenzie also called on attendees to share their thoughts on community development and needs at the Australian Council of Local Government meeting on 5 July. 

“It’s not our job to dictate from Canberra what your communities should be. You need local leadership when your region is going through tough times,” she said. 

In Linda Scott’s final NGA President’s Address before her term concludes in September, Councillor Scott emphasised the need for attendees to work together to turn the financial sustainability problem around.

ALGA President, Linda Scott

“We need to be united and stand together to send a strong message to our Federal Government. 

“We can’t play an ongoing strategic role in solving the nation’s problems if we’re not properly funded.” 

Cr Scott also spoke to the conference theme of trust, stating the theme is a reflection of the work all councillors and local government officials do to support their communities. 

“Through the level of trust we have with our communities, we can challenge some of the biggest problems we face.” 

The National General Assembly continues until 4 July in Canberra.  

Featured image: Governor-General of Australia, Sam Mostyn, at ALGA. Image credit: The Australian Local Government Association. 

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