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Chair's Report

I am pleased to present the 2021 Annual Report of the Western Australian Local Government Grants Commission. 

The Grants Commission is a statutory body established under the Local Government Grants Act 1978. Its principal function is to make recommendations to the Minister for Local Government regarding the allocation of Commonwealth financial assistance grants to WA’s 137 local governments.  

Over the past 12 months, the commission visited 32 local governments and I would like to thank them all for their willingness to engage in public hearings regarding the grant methodology, which determines the amount of funding allocated to each individual local government. I would also like to express my gratitude for the understanding and flexibility shown by local governments when public hearings were required to be rescheduled at short notice during February and April when the Perth and Peel region went into a lockdown due to COVID-19. We appreciate local governments cooperation during these times.  

The commission welcomed the open discussions and willingness of local governments to host the commission over the last year. A key component of the hearings is to allow the commission an opportunity to provide a detailed explanation on the grant methodology and the funding allocations for each local government. The commission also benefits from building a stronger understanding of individual local government’s issues, strengths and weaknesses at a local and regional level through discussions held at the hearings. These discussions help shape the grant methodology each year. 

While in the current climate, many meetings are shifting to a virtual format, I strongly believe there are significant benefits in having the opportunity to meet local governments in their own environment. In the past 12 months, the commission has used the regional visiting program to undertake informal inspections, by visiting outlying towns to understand the type of facilities supported in these areas to inform its population dispersion cost adjustor. 

The commission began a full review of the Financial Assistance Grants methodology in 2020-21 and will continue this review into the 2021-22 year. This review entails reviewing the cost adjustors, and the expenditure and revenue standards. I am grateful for the significant feedback received from local governments through a voluntary survey and the annual information return. This information will be put to good use to inform the reviews with a number of data sources provided by local governments already being examined. If any local governments have additional feedback they are strongly encouraged to provide this to the staff. 

The commission approved and submitted its Financial Assistance Grant recommendations to the State and Commonwealth Ministers at the end of July 2021. These were approved with local governments receiving their first quarter payments on 17 August 2021. 

I would like to thank all the Commissioners for their continued dedication to their roles over the past 12 months. Sadly, with the end of this reporting period we will be losing a significant amount of experience with the departures of Cr Ian West and Cr Deb Hamblin. Both contributed strongly to numerous reviews and discussions we partake in each year as part of allocating funds to local governments. The local government experience, dedication and professionalism both brought to their roles on the commission will be missed. I would also like to recognise the departure of Cr Moira Girando as well, who as a deputy I did not have the opportunity to work with, but appreciate her willingness to be part of the commission for the last three years. 

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the staff support of the commission, so we are able to operate in an efficient and effective manner. To Shannon Wood, Chloe Papasergio, Chris Berry, and others who have assisted during the past year, we appreciate the commitment and professionalism you continue to demonstrate.  

If you have any questions regarding the commission, I encourage you to contact the staff at any time.  

The Hon Fred Riebeling AM JP 
WA Local Government Grants Commission
Page reviewed 11 September 2023