By ALLISON HORE
City of Sydney councillor Linda Scott was elected president of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) which represents more than 500 councils nationwide.
Councillor Scott was elected to the position unopposed at the association’s AGM on Friday night. She will take over the role from Prospect mayor, David O’Loughlin, who has served as president of the association since 2016.
Ms. Scott was first elected to the City of Sydney in 2012, and re-elected in 2016. While in council she has been an advocate for more affordable housing and green spaces, increased early education and care centres, new skate parks, and increased funding for climate change action.
Councillor Scott also serves as the president of Local Government NSW, where she has been a strong advocate for sustainable council funding. Most recently she has been advocating for the state government to provide funding and better support to councils, especially regional ones, struggling to recover from last summer’s devastating fire season and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that she is “honoured” to have been elected as president of the ALGA and is committed to “looking after the best interests of local government and the people they serve”.
“Councils are the level of government closest to the community – and contrary to what many people might think, our responsibilities encompass much more than ‘roads, rates, and rubbish’,” she said.
The ALGA was founded in 1947 and has been representing local government to the federal parliament since 1976 when they established a Canberra secretariat. The group works to provide a local government perspective on national affairs and provide information to councils on federal government decisions which may impact their operations.
Across the country local governments directly employ nearly 200,000 people, control assets worth more than $425 billion, and have an annual operational spend of more than $38 billion, Ms. Scott said. The 128 councils across NSW alone employ around 50,000 people.
“Councils run pools, art galleries, childcare and emergency management centres – they deliver meals on wheels, nurture small business, and tackle homelessness and violence against women among many other things,” she said.
Adding to her experience across the local government sector, Ms. Scott is also a sitting board member on the NSW Environmental Trust and the NSW Public Service Medal Committee. Paying tribute to her predecessor, Cr O’Loughlin, Ms. Scott said he had been a “highly effective champion for councils and for the interests of local communities”.
“He has been an outstanding ALGA President and local government advocate these past four years, and I am honoured to continue his work,” she said.