Case of missing millions
LAST week’s Loddon Herald included the story, disturbingly, of how the local government share of Commonwealth taxation revenue had almost halved since financial assistance grants were introduced by the Federal Government in 1996.
Now barely receiving 0.5 per cent, Cr Gavan Holt told his councillors that the Australian Local Government Association is pushing for the rate to return to one per cent.
He suggested that such a rise would bring many millions of dollars into the coffers of Loddon Shire ready to be spent on roads, services, infrastructure and investment for the future.
Governments at state and federal levels have increasingly succeeded over recent decades in shifting costs, services and responsibility onto local government.
At the same time, while they may talk about record dollar levels of grants and allocations, the reality is that local councils have been dudded of their fair share.
And topping the list to miss out have been rural councils. Governments have failed in their responsibility to invest in local infrastructure and services to an appropriate level.
It is a credit, ongoing, to the resourcefulness of local communities that so much has been achieved with so little. Try seeing our city cousins reach the same high levels of attainment with miniscule amounts of money? We all know it simply wouldn’t happen. But country communities should not be penalised. Rather they should be rewarded.
Let’s hope there are ears in government able to hear that the financial support increasingly denied rural towns and municipalities should be reversed much sooner than later.