Queensland State Budget a good start for councils
The Local Government Association of Queensland has welcomed the State Government’s 2018-19 budget, saying it contains critical commitment to help ensure Queensland councils continue to provide the services and infrastructure their communities need.
A range of spending commitments in areas ranging from community infrastructure to building a new waste to energy industry to the continuation of successful child literacy programs means this year’s Budget is likely to get a cautious “thumbs up” from councils.
However, while the Budget contains a clear investment in the need for grants reform, LGAQ President Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said councils will be keen to know more details on the future of the grants funding system.
“Councils will also be disappointed that more than 30 percent of the revenue generated by the new waste levy will be channelled into general revenue,’’ he said.
“While there is a strong commitment to ensuring the new levy supports the development of a thriving new waste to energy industry, we will continue to argue that all of the revenue the levy generates should be spent on building a zero waste future for Queensland sooner rather than later.”
“On this we are on the side of local communities, who have said loud and clear that they want to see the waste levy money drive innovation not go back into general Treasury coffers.”
Mayor Jamieson said he was pleased the Budget includes continued funding support for successful, locally-focused infrastructure programs such as Works for Queensland as well as strong indications the Government is committed to grants reform.
“Queensland councils own and manage $150 billion in infrastructure assets and a streamlined grants process will ensure a more stable and certain future for local communities,’’ he said.
“While we welcome the $32 million to help minimise the impact on households of the introduction of the waste levy and acknowledge the Government’s pledge to provide $100 million from the new waste levy is a good start, local councils will need to see more detail on the Government’s plans.”
He said he especially welcomed the inclusion in the Budget of a $20 million injection over four years into the successful First 5 Forever Family Literacy Initiative that will be rolled out across Queensland’s 350 public libraries.
“Council-run libraries have the potential to reach 98 percent of Queensland’s population, including children and their families at a critical time in their development,” Mayor Jamieson said.
Mayor Jamieson said Queensland councils welcomed the announcement of $38 million to establish a Disaster Resilience Fund to deliver resilience and mitigation projects to further protect local communities from the impacts of cyclones, floods and other disaster events.
“We highlighted the need for this fund in our Budget submission so we are pleased the Government has recognised the importance of upfront investment to help better protect communities,” he said.
“Councils are at the forefront of disasters when they strike, and in mobilising the often difficult and lengthy recovery efforts.”
He said this commitment will go towards initiatives including: more protection for existing infrastructure; stronger future infrastructure and supporting communities to understand how they can be more resilient.
There is a $5 million allocation for the removal of bulk metal, including car wrecks and white goods in the Torres Strait and other isolated indigenous communities.
“This is an extreme problem with approximately 2,000 car bodies abandoned across these council areas,” he said.
Also welcome is the additional funding of $2.5 million over two years to implement and administer the requirements of the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act.
The Queensland Water Regional Alliance Program, QWRAP, which is the State Government’s only dedicated program supporting council water and sewerage services, has been given an $815,000 a year - a small boost in funding - to continue over the next 4 years.
“While the LGAQ applauds this move, it will continue to lobby the Government to extend future funding for QWRAP to allow more councils to benefit from the initiative,’’ he said.
“We will be reminding the Government that QWRAP recently featured in the National Productivity Commission’s report on national water reform as a project driving a strong, collaborative approach to service delivery.”
For more information, please contact:
0487 007 870
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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