29
Oct
08

Embedding regionalisation in the Statehood constitution

At the Full Council meeting on 28th October the following motion was passed unanimously:

That Council prepare a discussion paper for Statehood.

That the discussion paper examine, amongst other possibilities, recognition of Local Government including its powers and responsibilities and an equitable formula for the distribution of funds to be embedded in the constitution that evokes Statehood.

That this paper, if necessary, utilise funding allocated in this years budget for further analysis of population figures and mobility with a view of ascertaining an accurate formula.

That this paper consider the unique position of regions within the Territory.

That Council give impetus to the Mayor to consult with Local Government across the Territory,
particularly the regions, with a view of seeking support for the principles embodied in the paper.

Moved: John Rawnsley
Seconded: Jane Clark

This motion calls on Council to actively contribute to the direction of Statehood by promoting the
principle of regionalisation. The aim is to embed this interest in the document that evokes
Statehood.

Regionalisation holds two aspects.

More over the fold.

First, less populated regions must have access to the same level of opportunities and services, per
capita, as the metropolitan centres. This is particularly so for regional centres where the mobility
between more isolated regions is high. This aspect concerns the equitable and strategic
distribution of resources.

This motion aims to promote this first aspect by preparing a discussion paper to examine ways of
equitably distributing resources consistent with the principle of regionalisation. Because Darwin
as the capital centre has more opportunities and services due to natural market forces, the
consolidation of resources and other factors it is necessary, in my view, to embed in the State
constitution either the principles or a formula pertaining to the distribution of resources. This is
necessary also to curtail the political power of the capital centre – power that can potentially be
used by a government of any persuasion in the self-interests of the capital.

The second aspect of regionalisation concerns decision-making capacity. Regionalisation holds
that this capacity must be entrusted to the greatest extent possible to the people affected by its
decision. This aspect concerns localism and a sense of community empowerment.

As the third tier of government – closest to its elector base and local services – Local Government
and its already established structure performs set powers and responsibilities. Most of these
powers and responsibilities overlap with other levels of government. Some are clearly discernible.
Categorically setting out these powers – whether they include the power to create by-laws
consistent with Territory and Federal laws – deserves constitutional consideration.

The precedence of other States demonstrates that explicit recognition of powers and
responsibilities is achievable. Furthering these aspects with a more modernised and innovative
constitution is, in my view, ideal.

In our present political climate there is potential for the Statehood discourse to centre on issues of
protecting indigenous rights. Whilst this topic deserves examination my view is that there is
greater potential to direct political capital towards the principle of regionalisation. The reason for
this is that those living in regional parts of the Territory are as inter-dependant to each other as we
are to the capital centre. We would all benefit from regionalisation by advocating greater equity in
the distribution of resources and local decision-making capacity where relevant.

This motion further creates the impetus for our Mayor as leader of this town to consult in
partnership with regional Local Government across the Territory. The Shires and our regional
Town Councils have an important part to play post-Statehood. There is a broad consensus
throughout the regions for the principle of regionalisation and the timing for drawing this
consensus towards Statehood is now.

I provide my full support for our Town Council to take a leadership role in this regard.

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