Address to the 2018 National Awards for Local Government



19 June 2018

National Convention Centre, Canberra

Let me just share a few quick thoughts with you for just a few moments before I make that all-important announcement. I acknowledge all of you, as the Prime Minister did earlier, I certainly acknowledge the fact that we gather here on Ngunnawal country. I acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues Warren Entsch and of course my shadow colleague, Stephen Jones, who's here tonight; the ALGA executive, of course all of you; ladies and gentlemen, mayors, councillors. What a great night and again I welcome you here to Canberra this year as the Minister for Local Government.

The National Awards that we're celebrating—and we certainly marked the category winners today in parliament for the few that were able to join us—a significant opportunity to recognise what you do as local government across our great country. They always say the judging panel has a significant challenge in a job like this, and I've had it confirmed to me that the judging panel certainly had a challenge, not only in terms of those category awards winners, but the national winner that I will announce in just a few moments.

Can I just mention one other thing here this evening before we move onto that. Please keep in mind the videos that have been playing tonight show the example of our award winners; show the example that they set for all of us, and they prove that their efforts can be replicated, as I know they are, right across all of our states and territories. The winners' book has been produced as well, so that's another tangible overview of the winning and highly commended projects as well. But what I wanted to mention in particular, before I announce the national winner, is that tonight, based on conversations that have been held for some time, and most particularly today, that we will be announcing a new national award from next year, and it will coincide with the centenary of the first woman elected to any level of government in Australia—Grace Benny. Elected to the Brighton Council in South Australia in 1919.

While meeting with the Australian Local Government Women's Association president, Coral Ross, and New South Wales president, Marianne Saliba, we agreed this award would be very important, supporting councils in their efforts to get more women involved in local government, and we certainly need that. We need more women involved in state government and in federal government. So this is a very significant step for all of us.

And the Prime Minister described himself tonight as a First Lady of Sydney, when his wife Lucy was the first Lord Mayor of Sydney. I share with you a little bit of history from my hometown of Toowoomba. The first Queensland mayor in Toowoomba was the late Nell. E. Robinson, the mayor of Toowoomba City Council when I was just a boy. So indeed, we should be celebrating just that, as we will do leading up to next year.

So, here we are. The National Award for Excellence in Local Government. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm very proud to announce and I ask you to join with me in congratulating the winner in 2018, is the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council.

From the Cape York region in my home state of Queensland, for its Emergency Management Network and Community Forum project.

Give them another round of applause.