Dubbo Regional Council mayor Ben Shields backs the findings of a national poll that favoured political candidates focusing on local issues and communities at the next federal election.
A YouGov Galaxy poll found 81 per cent of respondents want local issues to be at the forefront of politicians minds.
Mayor Shields said a stronger partnership between the federal government and local government would help deliver positive local outcomes.
“Empowering local communities is both the key to successful outcomes as well as fiscal responsibility,” he said.
“A lot of the time, I question the need for duplication of government areas. For example, having federal and state health ministers, while local councils also having their involvement in health can lead to bureaucratic inefficiencies. This could also be said for other areas like education, roads and many other infrastructure projects.
“By keeping it local, and empowering individual communities, ‘head office knows best’ scenarios are avoided. The one size fits all model that is a favourite of the federal and state government agencies have been well and truly proven to be the wrong approach both in service standards and fiscally.”
Cr Shields agrees with the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) ‘all politics is local’, campaign and supports an association document outlining 12 ways political parties and their candidates can keep the federal election local and deliver for Australian communities.
The Dubbo mayor called for the next federal government to restore federal funding to local government to one per cent of commonwealth taxation revenue, levels last seen in 1996.
“The main reason why local communities are being left out is due to the funding from state and federal governments not increasing in line with new and expanded services that councils and communities are receiving,” he said.
ALGA President David O’Loughlin said the next federal government should look at increasing federal funding to councils.
“The erosion of the Financial Assistance Grants to councils seems to have slipped under the radar for successive governments so far,” he said.
“The result, of course, is that councils are getting less money from the federal government to address their local priorities and fund the roads, parks, libraries and other assets that make up the fabric of local communities.
“The policy initiatives presented in our ‘all politics is local’ election document are designed to benefit every community by investing in local services and infrastructure.”