Labor MPs in push for referendum on local government

NSW Local Government Association president Keith Rhoades.
NSW Local Government Association president Keith Rhoades. Contributed

SEVERAL Federal Labor MPs have recommended a referendum on the constitutional recognition of local government be completed this year, despite warnings the vote may not be successful.

After a public hearing on the issue last week, a joint parliamentary committee inquiry has brought down a preliminary report recommending a national vote be held in 2013.

Coalition MPs argue that the report, which has been brought down even before the public submission period for the inquiry has been completed, could jeopardise the vote.

Chaired by New South Wales MP Michelle Rowland, the committee recommended the Gillard Government start negotiations immediately with states and territories in a bid to get a successful vote later this year.

But the recommendations come only days after senior representatives of the Australian Local Government Association warned the political environment associated with the Federal Election this year might jeopardise the vote.

ALGA vice-president and president of the NSW Local Government Association Keith Rhoades told the committee last week the election, and a belated decision in a High Court case, may mean the government has missed the boat for this year.

Mr Rhoades said a delayed decision on the High Court chaplains' case - which challenged the constitutionality of Commonwealth funding programs - could jeopardise the referendum, which would rely on councils being recognised for direct financial payments.

The vote would mean the majority of councils' funding would not need to be channelled through state government coffers.

And while most state and territory governments support the idea of the proposal, the Commonwealth has not begun negotiations with the second tier of government.

Since the committee's report was released Thursday morning, a Griffith University constitutional law expert, Professor A.J. Brown, has welcomed the proposal.

Prof Brown was a member of the Federal Government's 2011 Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, and spoke during the public hearing last week.

He said a 2013 vote was an historic opportunity to improve the mechanics and operations of Australia's federal system.

But several Coalition MPs and Senators, who also sat on the committee, released a dissenting report to the recommendations.

The conservative committee members said while the change was worthy of support, a well-informed public would be essential to ensure the vote succeeded.

"Coalition members therefore consider that prior to a change to the Constitution being put to the people, parliament should take all reasonable steps to maximise the likelihood that all voting Australians understand the questions," the dissenting report reads.

Topics:  australian government labor local government association politics referendum

Former Scout leader pleads guilty to child porn charges

Brock Dittman.

Brock Emil Dittman pleaded guilty to accessing child porn.

10 ways to manage exam stress

Boonah State High School students from left, Tahlia Wilson, Tess Wimmer, Natalie Milligan and Luke Pressler cram in some last minute study leading into their final exams.

Four students who are going through end of year exams offer practical advice

Is Woolworths departure good news for Ipswich CBD?

Artist impression of the Ipswich Mall for the rejuvenation project to be undertaken by Ipswich City Properties

Council is on track to release a detailed plan before December

Local Partners

Workmates honour crash victim with tribute

UPDATE: Tanya Lyell is being remembered as a young mother dedicated to her family and work as the town she called home mourns its loss.

WATCH: NASA space station is live, see the view from above

In this picture taken from NASA's International Space Station from April 2015, the SpaceX Dragon is captured with the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm before its installation to the Harmony module.

See the world from a new perspective as space station passes Rocky

Artist feeds us pop straight from heart

FEED THE BEAST: Singer-songwriter Emma Dean is this week's featured artist.

Emerge's Calen Le Couteur recently caught up with Emma Dean

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

Dennis Knight and the Black Cats play Club Services Ipswich Saturday night

Check out some live entertainment this weekend

MOVIE REVIEW: Jack Reacher sequel falls flat

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

THE film's title Never Go Back should serve as a warning to fans.

The Bachelor contestants find love with each other

Former Bachelor contestants Megan Marx and Tiffany Scanlon have confirmed their relationship on social media.

MEGAN Marx and Tiffany Scanlon confirm relationship on Instagram.

Liam Payne wants to wed Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Liam Payne

Liam Payne reportedly wants to marry Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

Bindi Irwin 'honoured' to make MAXIM HOT 100 list

Wildlife Warrior named among Australia's most beautiful women

Len Wiseman files for divorce from Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale

Len Wiseman has filed for divorce from Kate Beckinsale

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Is Woolworths departure good news for Ipswich CBD?

Artist impression of the Ipswich Mall for the rejuvenation project to be undertaken by Ipswich City Properties

Council is on track to release a detailed plan before December

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?