Friday 26 June 2015
A new association representing Australia’s coastal councils is calling for a coordinated national approach to managing the nation’s coastline.
Committee member (representing NSW) and Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Michael Britten said, “management of the nation’s 36,000 km of coastline is left almost entirely to local councils which do not have sufficient resources to tackle the enormous challenges involved.
“It is about time the nation as a whole contributed to the cost of maintaining our beaches and other coastal assets, which are enjoyed by all Australians, rather than leaving it to coastal councils and their ratepayers,” he said.
Cr Britten said one of the reasons councils find it so difficult to address these issues is what is known as the vertical fiscal imbalance that exists between the three levels of government in Australia.
“Local councils receive only 3.4% of Australia’s taxation revenue, while the Federal Government receives 81% and the States and Territories receive 15%,” he said. “As a result, coastal councils are struggling to deal with a growing range of coastal issues in addition to increasing demand for facilities for tourists and other visitors.”
“The challenges facing Australia’s coastal councils include extensive coastal erosion, maintenance and restoration of the nation’s beaches, clean up and recovery from severe weather events and restoration of coastal habitat.
“Many coastal councils have to find tens of millions of dollars to cover the cost of these works in addition to funding the full range of local government infrastructure and services.”
Cr Britten said the Australian Coastal Councils Association has grown from what was previously known as the National Sea Change Taskforce and that the change was part of a strategy to expand the organisation and to increase its influence among decision-makers.
“There is little doubt the ‘sea change’ positioning of the organisation has served its purpose well over the past decade,” he said. “But in the view of the Committee of Management the range of coastal issues currently being addressed has broadened considerably.”