'Courage in leadership' was the theme of the recent Municipal Association of Victoria conference in Melbourne.

The conference heard from five councils who had shown some courage in representing their community.

It is an important topic as it is a question that is facing Local Governments across the country.

All types of challenges exist for the future. On almost every level, councils are dealing with a raft of challenges.

On the Federal level, we are now seeing a charge for producing carbon being introduced and the impact for Local Governments could be profound.

ALGA is to be congratulated for its efforts in mitigating the impact of the tax for the short term.

In the long term, however, Local Governments face a real dilemma with the massive emission of greenhouse gases because of the operation of landfill.

It will now be one of the pressing issues facing this sphere of government.

It is going to take strong leadership for all Local Governments to begin to wean communities off landfill.

So far, the community has enjoyed a relatively inexpensive way of disposing goods and rubbish.

The massive efforts of recycling and reusing material will only have to increase further.

This added to the challenges of infrastructure renewal, growing and aging populations and skills shortages makes it a testing time.

However, in the rush to meet this increasing long list of demands, Local Governments cannot lose touch with their community.

It is far easier for State and Federal Governments to forge ahead with their grand plans.

At the same time, as shown by the presentation at the MAV conference, there are times when Local Government must take bold steps, even in the face of strident community opposition.

But if it does move ahead, it must continue to educate, advise and talk to the community.

As difficult as it is, if Local Government means anything, it must continue to work with its community. Leadership should not mean losing touch.