Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese Jay Cronan

Albanese meets ministers to garner support for referendum

THE campaign to recognise local government in the Constitution will be top of the agenda when the nation's local government ministers meet in Hobart on Thursday.

New Local Government Minister Anthony Albanese will seek the support of his state colleagues for a referendum when he attends the joint meeting of the COAG Regional Australia Standing Council and the Local Government Ministers' Forum.

A parliamentary committee last month recommended that a referendum be held to coincide with the Federal Election on September 14.

The committee found there was a good chance of obtaining a "yes" given there was bipartisan support at the federal level.

But the committee also found the success of the referendum could hinge on the support of state governments.

Most states, with perhaps the exception of Queensland, are opposed to recognising local government in the Constitution.

Mr Albanese conceded it would be "tough" to garner support for a plebiscite, but said the Federal Government would give its "best shot" at easing the states' concerns.

"As the new Minister for Regional Development and Local Government, I am pleased to reaffirm the Federal Labor Government's commitment to giving local government financial independence through constitutional recognition," Mr Albanese said.

"We know that for a referendum to be successful, we need a broad consensus in the community and across all the states and territories."

Mr Albanese said ministers would also be discussing the planning, prioritisation and funding of regional and local government infrastructure.

Ministers will also be examining the findings of an Ernst and Young Report into the private financing options for local government, commissioned by former federal minister Simon Crean.

"Positioning Australia's regions to take advantage of the Asian Century will be another key focus of the joint meeting. Creating and maintaining access to new and burgeoning Asian markets will deliver real and lasting growth for all of our regions," Mr Albanese said.

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