Next year we go to the polls to elect a new federal government. Candidates will be out campaigning on why they should represent us, so it’s timely to be talking to our local politicians, both sitting and contenders, on what we need in our communities going forward. The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has produced a number of position papers in this regard. One that caught my eye was ‘promote equitable access to community services’. Our experiences and the wellbeing of communities are shaped by the infrastructure such as our local pool, library, playgrounds and parks which are provided by councils.
Many of our community clubs operate out of council-owned buildings, most of which are ageing and in need of upgrades. It is estimated that about $28.6 billion of facilities across Australia are currently in need of significant renewal. Is it fair however, to expect the local ratepayers to carry all the financial burden of renewal of important community infrastructure? The answer in my humble opinion is a resounding no.
Councils are being asked to keep rate rises to a minimum. This is entirely reasonable so, to ensure our assets keep delivering for us as a community, its important that we impress on our federal representatives and candidates why increasing the funding pool for facilities is worthwhile, indeed critical, for the success of our communities.
Just asking for more money isn’t going to cut it. We, as councils and communities, need to mount strong arguments why our halls, clubrooms, libraries, pools, parks and playgrounds are worth investing in. Valuing where we live, our health and wellbeing, support for each other, the connection between an asset and positive community outcomes, and critically, putting a dollar figure to that, isn’t always easy.
It’s good to know that councils do this work regularly through their strategic plans, regional documents and other work to assist these arguments. Collectively though, our voice is stronger. By working together as one community and identifying priorities and sticking to them, will give us the best chance to be in the mix for the all important funding dollar that might come our way. In the meantime, supporting good initiatives such as the position papers of the ALGA will help our collective cause of securing funds for important services that make our communities fantastic places to live.
Mayor, Town of Gawler