Friday, 24 May 2024

Local Government Association Conference and Ordinary General Meeting

I am delighted to address the conference today as Patron of the Local Government Association, as you look towards 2050 and actively explore a vision for the future of Local Government.

While it is a long-standing tradition for successive Governors to give patronage to the LGA, I am personally delighted to do so, as I am somewhat of a fan of Local Government, a fact I shared with your President at a meeting at Government House.

Those parts of my adult life I have spent in Australia have largely been spent in the ACT, which you will know has rather unusual governance arrangements. Since returning to South Australia, I have become directly aware of the vital importance of local government in the life of the state, not least through Rod’s and my many regional visits.

Alongside visiting schools, the local RSL and other organisations, engaging with the local council gives us the pulse of the community.

I was delighted to host an afternoon tea yesterday for several of the regional mayors who are attending this conference and to hear about their communities.

I know that here in the room we have many enthusiastic community leaders and decision-makers who work incredibly hard to sustain and grow vibrant communities.

You do so against the backdrop of many issues facing us as a society: climate change, pressure on finances, planning laws, land use, changes to workplace environments, youth participation, ageing populations, and the need to break down isolation and loneliness, future pandemic preparedness; all set against the need to maintain the vital basic services for which local government is responsible.

Local Government has an important role in contributing to solutions.

Recently I witnessed it in Roxby Downs where the Council is preparing for a hotter climate through vegetation plantings to not only enhance the streetscape and town character, but to provide shade and keep temperatures down.

Research forecasts that the climate of Roxby Downs will become more like that of Oodnadatta: two degrees hotter, less rainfall and more frequent extreme weather events.

The Council is on the front foot in mitigating the effects of these changes in collaboration with the Kokatha traditional owners and University of Adelaide students.

I saw it in Kingston where the Council is seeking to address the challenges of coastal erosion.

I witnessed it in Mount Gambier and on the Adelaide Plains where council staff are planning for population growth.

In Adelaide we see effort working towards a greener, cooler, and wilder Adelaide in terms of plantings.

I witnessed it across the state in the facilities for recreation and enrichment and services provided by councils and the services they provide for the vulnerable and in their work in promoting active ageing.

Clearly, in conjunction with State Government and other organisations, local government has an important role in helping to shape the future.

I commend the LGA for bringing the sector together through this conference to further develop foresight for what is ahead. I thank the guest speakers and conference organisers and participants for their contributions.

Through actively listening and engaging with new ideas we can develop some of our best forward strategies.

Foresight is a powerful tool and one need to harness to be clear about what we are expecting in the future and to develop capacity to manage it.

I wish you a productive and enjoyable conference.

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