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'Council Watch' survey should not overshadow great work of councils

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The Herald Sun’s ‘Council Watch’ survey of just a few hundred people was nothing more than a cheap shot at councils, who work hard every day to deliver for their communities.

In fact, polling consistently shows that councils are more trusted than both State and Federal Parliament.

I’m the first to admit councils don’t always get it right. But the reality is that without local government, many important community services would not be delivered to those who need them.

From the moment you step out of your house, the work of your local council is all around you. The footpaths, local roads, street lights, playgrounds, parks, sporting grounds, kindergartens, libraries, home care for the elderly and disabled, maternal and child health services – the list goes on.

Councils are at the heart of their communities. They are the level of government closest to the people they represent. We are called ‘local’ government because that's exactly what we are – local. Councillors’ mobile numbers are accessible for that very reason. Take ‘local’ out of the equation and your local voice is lost.

This is reflected in the fact that the Victorian Parliament has included “advocating the interests of the local community to other communities and governments” as one of the key roles of councils, set out in the Local Government Act 1989 [Section 3D (2)(d)].

Councils have a long history of influencing state and federal issues that affect their local residents. Their advocacy has led to significant change that many of us now take for granted.

If you look at it historically, Victorian councils were part of a major push that led to the Federation of Australia and establishment of the Constitution. Many councils also advocated strongly for women to be granted the right to vote, and more recently have pushed for the prevention of violence against women to be front and centre on the State and Federal agenda.

I acknowledge that local government doesn’t always get it right – no level of government does. But that should not overshadow the great work of councils who deliver for their communities every single day.

Cr Mary Lalios
MAV President