Local government Constitution move 'a power grab'

FORMER Howard government minister Peter Reith says the move to recognise local government in the Constitution is little more than a "Canberra power grab" that must be defeated.

Mr Reith will be the spokesman for the Vote No campaign in the lead-up to the referendum, which will be held in conjunction with the Federal Election on September 14.

Former councillor and Liberal Party member Julian Leeser will be convenor for the campaign, with the support of Mr Reith, another former Howard government minister in Nick Minchin and Institute of Public Affairs director Tim Wilson.

The group has set up a website for people opposed to the referendum to register their interest - www.nopowergrab.com.au.

"We welcome any Australian who wants to stand up to Canberra's power grab," Mr Reith said.

"We're building a broad-based coalition of people, regardless of their political background, to defeat this Canberra power grab. We want organising committee members, activists, donors, anyone prepared to play a part."

A bill that would add just 17 words to the Constitution recognising local government was introduced to the House of Representatives last week.

The Vote No campaign claims the change would make it more difficult for local communities to "provide services based on local need".

It is also opposed to the millions of dollars being spent on the education campaign for the referendum.

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