New association to represent Australia’s coastal councils

The Australian Coastal Councils Association, a new body representing Australia’s coastal councils, is calling for a coordinated national approach to managing the nation’s coastline.

The Australian Coastal Councils Association, a new body representing Australia’s coastal councils, is calling for a coordinated national approach to managing the nation’s coastline.

Clarence City Council Alderman Sharyn von Bertouch, one of two Tasmanian representatives on the Association’s Committee of Management, said the 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," Alderman von Bertouch said.

Alderman von Bertouch said one of the reasons councils find it so difficult to address these issues is because of 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%," she 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.

Alderman von Bertouch 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 increase its influence among decision-makers.

"There is little doubt the ‘sea change’ positioning of the organisation has served its purpose over the past decade," she said.

"But in the view of the Committee of Management the range of coastal issues currently being addressed has broadened considerably."

 

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