PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6982


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/08/1986

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 6982

It gives me great pleasure to be with you on this occasion,
the presentation of the National Awards for Innovation in
Local Government.
This is ' zhe first time the awards have been presented.
They r~ p1 resent a further recognition of Local Government at
the nat: ional level and I would like to congratulate Tom Uren
for having the foresight to introduce them.
In the years ahead I am certain the awards will come to be
seen as prized indicators of achievement in Local
Gove rrnent.
The at-ards have three purposes.
First, they are designed to recognise the achievements of
Local Government. Those of you in Local Government know
that these achievements are many. But it is important that
they be~ recognised by those outside Local Government and be
used to present a more balanced picture of Local Government
than sometimes comes forward.
The second purpose is to encourage innovative practices. In
today's difficult economic circumstances -the introduction of
innovative techniques and approaches is essential if we are
to adapt to meet the challenges that confront us. This must
be done in the Local Government sector as elsewhere.
The third purpose of the Awards is perhaps the most
important. It is to promote the sharing of ideas and
experiences and to disseminate the benefits of innovation.
It is something that can be done with maximum effectiveness
at the national level.
The Awards were launched in March. They instantly attracted
the attention of Local Government throughout the country and
some 250 applications were received.

I am told that a panel of experts, principally drawn from
major national Local Government bodies, pondered long and
hard before selecting what it considered to be the
outstanding entries.
with so many worthy efforts the panel found that it could
not confine itself to eight awards. it therefore
recommended, in addition, some 16 commendations for
outstanding innovation achievement.
To all those councils who have won an award or a
commendation I offer my congratulations. You have by your
efforts denionstrated your leadership in your industry and
you are providing a fine example for others, including other
public sector managers, to follow.
I also congratulate all those other councils who submitted
entries. Their interest in this award has helped make it a
real success. Many of the innovations submitted by these
councils were of the highest quality and because of this, a
booklet will be produced detailing every application. in
this way we hope to ensure that maximum advantage is taken
by councils of the experiments, proposals and developments
of other councils.
The National Awards for Innovation in Local Government are
an integral part of my Government's commitment to strengthen
Local Government and to raise its status and capacity. For
too long too little recognition has been given to the
important, indeed vital, role that Local Government plays
both in the administration and welfare of this country.
Other level. s of government, have been too ready to treat
Local Government as a distant relative. I believe that as a
result, too often we have failed to appreciate, learn from
and build upon the impressive strengths of Local Government.
When we took office in 1983 we took steps to correct this
We established the first Ministry for Local Government and
appointed one of our most experienced ministers to lead it.
Subsequent events have proved how correct was the choice of
Tom Uren as Local Government Minister. Nobody has fought
harder for your cause. I can tell you that from personal
experience. Nobody could have achieved more than Tom has,
given the circumstances that have prevailed.
We have expanded and developed the Commonwealth office of
Local Government. In contrast to its pitiable state before
1983, it now has the resources and expertise to advise the
Government effectively on local government matters and to
fight the Local Government cause within the Commonwealth
we have backed our words of support for Local Government
with funds. In the year just completed, 1985-86, the
Government provided over $ 1 billion to Local Government a
level 50 per cent higher than in the last year of the Fraser

The $ 1 billion being provided by the Commonwealth is
significant in terms of Commonwealth expenditure. It
reflects the importance we attach to the role of Local
Government in the economic and social development of this
nation. For this coming financial year we have taken steps to ensure
that the key part of local Government's funding from the
Commonwealth the untied general purpose assistance
grants is maintained in real terms. It will mean that for
this year the level of these grants could increase to some
$ 580 million.
This has again placed Local Government in a better position
than the States. This year the States will suffer a decline
in real terms in the assistance they receive from the
Commonwealth. When the Budget is delivered next Tuesday and
you can see its effects on Commonwealth Departments and
Authorities you will realise what a good deal Local
Government has received.
In these times of economic difficulty and constraint, the
new general purpose funding arrangements for Local
Government are a significant achievement for your sphere of
Government. They, in fact, represent a vote of confidence
by my Government in Local Government.
I am tol6 that the successful negotiation of these new
arrangements for Local Government was in no small part due
to the ability of Local Government's national and state
representatives to perceive the key issues and to quickly
establish a common position. I congratulate Local
Government on its efforts in this area.
There is 3ne aspect of the new general purpose financial
assistance arrangements for Local Government that I would
like to emiphasise. That is the increased emphasis the new
arrangements will place on providing assistance to the more
disadvantaged councils.
Under the new arrangements such councils whether they be
in rural areas, provincial towns or the cities will
receive a better deal than they have in the past.
This, of course, is consistent with my Government's concern
to protect the less well off sections of our society and to
ensure that our limited resources are distributed in the
fairest way possible.
This consideration is even more important in the difficult
times we are now in. With the current emphasis on restraint
all levels of Government must re-double their efforts to
ensure expenditure is directed to the most worthy areas.
A pleasing feature of the new financial assistance
arrangements for Local Government is the manner in which
co-operation between the three spheres of government is

Under the new arrangements provision is made for all three
spheres Local Government, the States and the
Commonwealth to be involved in drawing up the principles
that will determine the distribution of funds between
councils in each State.
This change reflects our commitment to strengthen
co-operation between Governments in the Local Governmaent
area. It is evident in the Local Government Ministers Conference
where we have upgraded the role of that Conference in
co-operation with the States and Local Government. That
conference is now playing a leading part in assessing local
Government's irole in economic development and in the0
provision of community services matters that will be at
the forefront of Local Government concern in the years
ahead. This strengthened co-operation has also been evident in the
employment area where the Commonwealth's Community
Employment Program has achieved considerable success. Much
of the credit for that success rests with Local Government
which has responded magnificently in the provision of
projects, supervision and resources.
I am looking forward to an equally impressive response from
Local Governnc. 3nt as we press ahead with providing a wider
range of employment opportunities for young people.
A major factor in our success in encouraging greater
co-operation between Governments has been the introduction
of the Local Government development program.
Under this program we have spent over $ 11 million since 1983
funding, in total, some 430 projects, directly involving 327
councils, in all States and the Northern Territory.
Not only has the program encouraged greatly increased
co-operation between the three spheres of government but it
has enhanced co-operation between councils as well.
However, increasingly, the major thrust of the program has
been to spread the use of more effective and efficient
practices throughout Local Government. It is an even more
timely program in the present economic climate when we all
need to become more productive and effective.
All aspects of Local Government activity; management,
training, accounting, infrastructure planning, environmental
improvement, service delivery, and employment initiatives,
to name but a few, have been embraced by this program.
The results of these projects are now becoming available and
action is underway to disseminate the experiences throughout
the Local Government industry. Priority will be given to
this task in the year ahead.

There is no doubt that the Local Government development
program will prove to be of major importance for Local
Government. Equally, there can be no doubt that it has been a successful
initiative of this-Government.
In recognition of this I am pleased to announce that the
Government will continue the program in 1986-87, although at
a reduced funding level, commensurate with the budgetary
restraints that now face us all.
Some of you will be disappointed that funding for this small
but important program will be reduced. I too am
disappointed that we have been unable to maintain funding,
levels, but for this year, at least, economies must be
The challenge you now have in this year of restraint is to
make the very best use of these funds. I am sure that, for
his part, Torn will be making every dollar count.
There are othler areas in which we have taken steps to
strengthen a~ nd improve local Government's position.
In last year's budget we introduced new arrangements to
permit the deductibility for income tax purposes of expenses
incurred in Local Government elections. This was a reform
long overdue and brought the Local Government situation more
into line w~ lth that applying to State and Commonwealth
elections. We have also moved to ensure that Local Government is
represented at key national economic forums. The Australian
Council of Local Government As~ sociations is represented, for
instance, on the Economic Planning Advisory Council and
makes a valuable contribution to its work.
In placing Local Government on EPAC we have recognised that
Local Government is an important part of the economic
process at the local level. It is a significant employer,
provider of facilities, services and infrastructure and
consumer of good and services. It serves as an important
catalyst in many instances in developing community resources
and capacities. It has many economic functions.
We have also encouraged and assisted Local Government in its
rightful claim to be included in the Australian
Constitution, supporting your representatives at the
Brisbane meeting last year and ensuring that Local
Government is adequately represented on the Constitutional
Commission we established recently.
We were heartened by the outcome for Local Government of the
Brisbane convention. I am hopeful that firm recommendations
will now come from the Constitutional Commission, enabling
us to proceed to changes in the constitution which will give
Local Government proper recognition. There is no doubt in
my mind that such recognition is long overdue.

I have referred, several times, to the economic difficulties
we face as a nation.
For us to pull out of this situation and we willrequires
the efforts of all parts of our society. It is
simply not Ea case of our manufacturers producing more, or
our farmers producing more efficiently.
we have called upon the private sector to sharpen its
performance, to become more outward looking, to adopt more
innovative management and work practices, to modernise plant
and equipment, to give greater attention to marketing and to
invest more readily in research and development.
we have also encouraged the public sector to become leaneg
and more efficient, to develop improved management practices
geared to achieving better results and to be more responsive
and accountable in its activities.
A range of Public Service reforms have been introduced to
modernise the Australian Public Service. We have said quite
clearly to the Federal bureaucracy, do more, do it more
effectively and do it with fewer resources.
Local Governm~ ent, as part of the public sector of the
nation, needs also to respond to these imperatives. many
councils aze already doing that and have developed
approaches from which other Government bodies Federal,
State and Local can learn.
But, of course, there remains much to be done and that is
our collective challenge to work together to develop a
more flexible, responsive and innovative public sector for
the future.
I am confident that local Government will be able to rise to
meet that challenge.
The National Awards for innovation in 4ocal Government
provide ample evidence of its progressiveness and its
They enew my optimism about Local Government's future and
my Government's belief in its ability to play a. significant
part in strengthening our nation.

Transcript 6982