Rob Oakeshott
Rob Oakeshott Jerad Williams

Should Local Governments be constitutionally recognised?

THE Australian Local Government Association has welcomed the formation of a federal parliamentary committee to examine the chances of a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government succeeding.

A motion to establish a 12-member joint select committee passed the lower house this week.

ALGA president Felicity-Ann Lewis said she remained confident a referendum on the issue would be held by the end of next year.

"Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave an undertaking when coming to office in 2010 to hold referendums by the end of 2013 on both constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians and constitutional recognition of local government," Ms Lewis said.

"Despite the government's recent decision to defer a referendum on indigenous recognition, ALGA will continue to work with the Commonwealth on putting in place the conditions for a successful local government referendum, which will ensure that important federal funding for local communities can continue."

ALGA argues the only way to protect direct federal funding for community services and infrastructure is to have local government recognised in the Australian Constitution and earlier this year, local government called on the Australian Government to establish a parliamentary committee to consider the timing of a referendum and the wording of the constitutional amendment.

Polling commissioned by ALGA last year found up to 68% of adults said that they might support financial recognition of local government in the Constitution.

The joint select committee was formed after cabinet was unable to decide whether to hold a referendum on the issue.

A motion put forward by independent Rob Oakeshott last month calling for local councils to receive a fixed percentage of GST revenue was overwhelmingly defeated in the lower house.