Local Government in PM's Firing Line

Labor’s Federal spokesperson for Local Government and Regional Services, Stephen Jones MP says the Turnbull Government must immediately rule out any extension of the Financial Assistance Grants freeze which has had such a detrimental impact on regional services across Australia.

Labor’s Federal spokesperson for Local Government and Regional Services, Stephen Jones MP says the Turnbull Government must immediately rule out any extension of the Financial Assistance Grants freeze which has had such a detrimental impact on regional services across Australia.

 

The Turnbull Government’s funding freeze has deprived local councils of critical resources that support the delivery of important services to their communities. This freeze has hit hardest in regional councils which have limited capacity to raise funds through alternative means.

 

Minister Chester refused on three separate occasions during parliamentary questioning yesterday to rule out further freezes to the Financial Assistance Grants which provide untied funding for Local Governments.

 

“What is the future of the Financial Assistance Grant? Can the minister guarantee that there will not be another round of financial assistance grants freezes? What action is the government going to take to ensure that these struggling councils from around the country are going to be put in the same position as they would have been had the Abbott-Turnbull government not imposed these Financial Assistant Grant freezes? How can the government ensure that these councils are going to be in a position to provide the vital services that their residents, their rate payers, so sorely rely on?

Stephen Jones MP, 10.36 am, Thursday, 20 October 2016

 

 

“However, isn't it true, Minister, that the benefits that you have claimed—being the increases in the Roads to Recovery Program—have been more than offset by the cuts to financial assistance grants?

Stephen Jones MP, 11.02 am, Thursday, 20 October 2016

 

 

“I thank the minister for responding to some of the issues and questions that I raised, but I note that I invited the minister to rule out a further freeze—an extension of the existing freeze—on financial assistance grants to local councils. That has not yet occurred.”

Stephen Jones MP, 11.38am, Thursday, 20 October 2016

 

Those questions remain unanswered.

 

Last week the Victorian Grants Commission reported the cost of the Financial Assistance Grants freeze at $200 million to Victorian Councils. We know that every council in every state has been hit hard by this funding freeze.

 

All up, the Turnbull Government has stripped nearly a billion dollars – $925 million – from local councils across the country over a three year period.

 

With higher levels of unemployment, income support and rental stress in regional areas, local councils are the service provider of last resort. Putting the squeeze on them hurts people who can least afford the withdrawal of services.  

 

Labor’s Federal spokesperson for Local Government and Regional Services, Stephen Jones MP is now calling on the Turnbull Government to answer these question and immediately rule out any extension of the Financial Assistance Grants Scheme freeze.

 

 

FRIDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2016

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