Queensland Minister for Local Government David Crisafulli
Change The Question, Please Prime Minister
Victor P Taffa
The Newman Government has today released suggested changes to the question that will allow councils to be funded directly by the Federal Government.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli today told Parliament that Queensland wanted to ensure the September 14 referendum to change the Australian Constitution was successful, but only if the wording of the question was changed to protect local government from Federal control.
“When the Gillard Government rushed to put the issue to a vote, my immediate concern was how the question was phrased or if it would open council funding to a new set of Federal conditions.” Mr. Crisafulli said.
“Unfortunately, our suspicions have been proved right.”
Mr. Crisafulli said the Newman Government had taken legal advice and as the question currently stands, the Federal Government could make funding dependent on whatever conditions it liked.
“As bizarre as it sounds, it could offer to fund a local government road contingent on the council installing pink batts or solar panels on every council roof.”
“Perhaps they’d want the local weir declared a marine park before council could get a new bridge.” Mr. Crisafulli said.
“The Newman Government recognises the need of local governments to be funded directly by the Federal Government, but not controlled by it.”
In a bid to ensure the referendum is passed, Premier Campbell Newman and Mr. Crisafulli yesterday sent a letter to Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, requesting changes to the question Australians will be asked.
The change involves the inclusion of two more sentences:
“The terms and conditions of a grant of financial assistance to a State or to a local government body formed by a law of a State are subject to the laws of the State.
“An entity formed by a law of a State is a local government body for the purposes of subsection (1) if, and only if, the State’s law so provides.”
Mr. Crisafulli said he wanted to find a way to get the referendum passed, as it had already been rejected in two previous votes in 1974 and 1988.