The federal government's failure to give leadership on constitutional recognition of local government increases the financial uncertainty facing councils and shires across the country, Greens local government spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said today.
Senator Rhiannon was responding to today's announcement that Local Government Minister Simon Crean plans to refer the proposed referendum on constitutional recognition to a parliamentary committee.
"The financial health of many councils could depend on constitutional recognition and the government should not back off", Senator Rhiannon said.
"The Greens will not allow local government recognition to fall off the agenda.
"Minister Crean's committee plan leaves the government looking weak as it appears they are walking away from doing the work needed to make good on their commitment to hold a referendum.
"The Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition has already done the work required to show this referendum should go ahead.
"A 2009 High Court case raised doubts about the Commonwealth's ability to make grants directly to local councils.
"The Nation Building Roads to Recovery program, the Regional Development Australia Fund, the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program and the Low Carbon Communities all involve direct payments from the Commonwealth to local government.
"Federal Labor is leaving itself open to ridicule on this issue. How many committees are needed to show the way?" Senator Rhiannon said.