Shelved referendum ‘a sad day for local government’

Source: Frankie Roberto via Flickr
Source: Frankie Roberto via Flickr


The Redland City Council Mayor says she is ‘bitterly disappointed’ the referendum on constitutional recognition of local government has been put on hold.

The referendum was shelved on Sunday after Australia PM Kevin Rudd announced a September 7 election and ruled out a coinciding referendum.

Mayor Karen Williams said calling off the referendum has wasted $20 million that has been committed to a ‘yes’ campaign.

“To pull out in this point of time when everyone was geared up is a very sad day for local government when you have that bipartisan support,” she said.

Mayor Williams said the outcome of the election ‘won’t make a difference’ to any future opportunities of a referendum.

“I think they’re two separate issues,” she said.

“I think our case was strong and we were ready for a referendum.

“So there’s no guarantee from this point of time that we’ll even have one and that means funding that we currently get from the Federal Government will more than likely be challenged.

“And particularly the regional areas will be without revenue to give projects that are really important to their local community.”

However Armidale Dumaresq Councillor Margaret O’Connor said the referendum was ‘undercooked from the word go’.

She said her council in Northern New South Wales would now save up to $10,000 in funds that would have otherwise been spent on a local ‘yes’ campaign.

“I think everybody will be really disappointed about the referendum not going ahead,” she said.

“My reservation on the disappointment is that I think the whole thing was pulled together so late that it was going to be difficult to get a yes vote across the nation.

“So in some ways I think people have highlighted our issue and given us a second chance to breathe life into this debate about proper financing of local governments.”

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