Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Matt Burnett and Deputy Mayor Kahn Goodluck.
Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Matt Burnett and Deputy Mayor Kahn Goodluck.

Council’s call for seat at the table after COAG dismantled

There is concern that local government will be excluded from the conversation as Australia continues to plan its coronavirus recovery.

Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett said that by abolishing the Council of Australian Governments, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had "removed the one seat at the table" that gave a voice to the country's councils.

Last Week Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed COAG will be replaced with "a completely new system" built on what he said is the success of the operation of the National Cabinet.

The Australian Local Government Association sat at the COAG table, and while Cr Burnett is not opposed to a new system, he said there had to be a place for each tier of government.

"National Cabinet has a federal voice, a state voice but not local voice,' he said.

He's worried that issues council are responsible for will be discussed without its input and local ideas and concerns won't be heard.

He's supportive of a model that would give the president of the ALGA a seat at National Cabinet during each meeting.

"There are 537 councils in Australia, we are only asking for one seat," he said.

Cr Burnett is a Local Government Association of Queensland representative to the ALGA Board.

Last week Mr Morrison said the permanent National Cabinet would be driven by a single agenda to create jobs.

"What we'll be doing is keeping the National Cabinet operating and particularly during the COVID period, we'll continue to meet on a fortnightly basis," he said

"In a normal year it will meet on a monthly basis.

"Once a year, the National Cabinet will meet together with the Treasurers as well as the Australian Local Government Association in a new council which is focused on national federation reform."

Cr Burnett said local government needed to be included in the conversation year round, "not just at a once a year check in".

COAG was established in 1992 and typically met twice a year.

Its members consisted of the Prime Minister, state and territory leaders and the president of the ALGA.

It was designed to address matters of national importance that needed co-ordination across all levels of government.

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