“Those of us who remember the local government referendum in 1988 will understand what lies behind the latest proposal,” FamilyVoice national research officer Ros Phillips said today.
“At first sight, recognising local government seems a positive step. Who wouldn’t want to honour those people who week by week remove our smelly rubbish, clear our drains, maintain our parks and provide our local libraries?” she said.
“But this referendum is not really about honouring local councils.
“The reality is that councils are a state government responsibility and belong in state constitutions – not the Commonwealth Constitution. Including local government in the Commonwealth Constitution would give Canberra more power to override state government plans by directly funding local councils, with ideological strings attached.”
Mrs Phillips said most Australians value our state governments and do not want to be ruled entirely from Canberra, whose bureaucrats are far distant from local concerns. She praised SA Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, who has had the courage to speak out against the referendum proposal in opposition to his party’s hierarchy.
“In 1988, initial opinion polls showed that Australians strongly supported the inclusion of local government in our Commonwealth Constitution,” Ros Phillips said. “But as more people understood the real agenda, their attitudes changed. The referendum was overwhelmingly defeated. I believe that could happen in September 2013 as well.”
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