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Local governments’ new money man

THE former chief executive officer of the Department of Local Government has been appointed as chairman of the Western Australian Local Government Grants Commiss-ion.

John Lynch was the CEO of the Department of Local Government for 10 years and has also worked in the fields of public housing, Aboriginal affairs and regional develop-ment.

The Grants Commission is responsible for the distribution of more than $150 million of federal funds to the State’s 142 local governments and, under federal legislation, is required

to keep up with the

changing role and functioning

of local government in WA.

According to Mr Lynch, local governments have begun taking on extra responsibilities that were previously handled by the state governments.

“The other levels of governments are devolving responsibilities to the local councils.

“In a back-handed way they (the State Governments) are making local government more relevant to the community,” he says.

However, Mr Lynch says although the role of our local governments are broadening, WA’s local government system has a fairly narrow role.

“That’s by comparison to most other countries and in particular in WA. Councils in other states take care of water and sewerage, however the role for WA local councils has started broadening, particularly in the area of human services,” he says.

Although local governments are now taking on extra activities, Mr Lynch does not see the role of the state government disappearing.

“To do away with any of the levels of government is ex-tremely unlikely.”

Ian Cowie, a director of the State’s new Local Government and Regional Development Department, has been appointed to the Grants Commission as deputy chairperson.

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