Council pins hopes on referendum’s success
A REFERENDUM later this year could hold the key to financial surety for Gympie Regional Council.
Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne is calling for locals to support a September referendum asking to include local government in the constitution, after the nation-wide vote received federal government approval yesterday.
Cr Dyne said constitutional recognisation of local governments would mean funding for the Gympie region because direct dollar injection from federal government would be legitimised.
"The major benefit would be the surety of federal funding," Cr Dyne said yesterday.
He said high court cases that had challenged the legal ability for federal government to pass funding directly to local governments had cast doubt about essential local government funding.
Cr Dyne said with just 3% of taxpayer money landing in the hands of local governments, the ability for councils such as Gympie to tap into the 80% that goes to federal government would be a provided significant gain for the region's projects and services.
While the vote has been given the go-ahead for September 14, the same day Australians take to the polls for the general federal election, Cr Dyne warns there is still a way to go, with two previous referendums on the issue in 1974 and 1988 suffering defeat.
"It's a difficult issue because most referendums don't get up," he said.
Cr Dyne said he would therefore continue to highlight that an avenue for direct federal funding was "essential" to Gympie region's wellbeing.
He said federal funding programs for local government such as Roads To Recovery, worth $3.5 billion overall since 2009, were critical to the growth of communities but could have their legitimacy tested if local government remained out of Australia's official governmental system.
Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett said he would also put his name behind the referendum push.
Cr Perrett said success would not only be vital to local government's day-to-day services including disaster management and health provisions but would also open up chances for relationship-building between neighbouring local governments.
"It would be a good step forward," Cr Perrett said.