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What does the State Budget mean for Qld councils?

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Hon Jackie Trad MP, Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships delivered the Palaszczuk Government’s fourth budget on 12 June 2018.

The LGAQ has prepared a media release and a scorecard highlighting key outcomes for local government. The following talking points provide further details on items of interest to local government.

Items in direct response to LGAQ Budget Submission

  1. Grant reform

The LGAQ congratulates the State Government on its commitment to grant reform and the inclusion of Program Summaries for local government (BP2, p.104) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Government is providing $4.5 million over four years to implement improvements including simplification of the administration of grants to local government and the development of a new grants management system to progress recommendations from the Review of Grants to Local Government: Current and Future State Assessments report.

Implementation of this reform was a key election commitment and the sector’s number one advocacy priority. The simplification of the grants and subsidies allocated to councils will provide critical information to support councils in developing more sustainable, long-term planning and deliver essential public services to communities.

In keeping with our commitment under the Partners in Government Agreement, the LGAQ commits to working with the State Government to continuously improve the presentation of overall funding to local governments in the State Budget Papers.

  1. Community Resilience Fund

Queensland is Australia’s most vulnerable state to extreme weather. Councils are at the forefront of disasters when they strike and in mobilising the often difficult and lengthy recovery efforts.

The budget commits $38 million to strengthen communities’ disaster resilience.

This was part of LGAQ’s budget submission and we are pleased the government has recognised the importance of upfront investment to help better protect communities. The program will also be open to NGOs and state agencies.

  1. QWRAP

$4.2 million has been allocated to the Queensland Water Regional Alliance Program, over the next four years. LGAQ asked for $9 million. This increase is modest as the State Government will take some of the funding for administration, leaving $815,000 to go to the program annually. It is a relatively small amount considering Queensland councils manage $25 billion worth of water and sewerage infrastructure.

While it is welcome news that QWRAP will continue for the next four years, the funding allocation falls short of allowing the program to expand for the many councils showing an interest in joining.

QWRAP is proving its worth on many levels, and recently featuring in the National Productivity Commission’s report on national water reform as a project driving a strong, collaborative approach to service delivery.

  1. First 5 Forever and Indigenous Knowledge Centres

Queensland’s 328 public libraries drive community learning and connections and have the potential to reach 98% of their population.This is what councils do best – provide services which help at the grass roots level. In this case, the First 5 Forever Literacy Initiative assists early learning for children under five.

The Budget includes a $20 million injection over four years to continue the successful First 5 Forever Family Literacy Initiative, as proposed by the LGAQ.

In just one year, research shows 445,000 attendances to in-library First 5 Forever activities, and 19,000 parent and caregiver toolkits distributed. However, the LGAQ’s proposal for an additional $2.5 million allocation to Indigenous Knowledge Centres to drive digital literacy in indigenous communities has not been funded.

  1. Local Government Natural Resource Management

No direct funding provided for NRM in response to the LGAQ’s Budget Submission.

Queensland councils help protect significant environmental areas. Local governments employ around 700 NRM staff and spend more than $260 million annually on NRM. LGAQ is keen to see the State Government directly fund councils to leverage their investment and skills. Direct funding sends a positive message about the importance of protecting the environment at the local level.

  1. Queensland Climate Resilient Councils (Q CRC) Program

There is a lot that can be done to mitigate the impacts of global warming, and local governments provide leadership and support to their communities and local businesses.

The Queensland Climate Resilient Councils program, a partnership between the State and the LGAQ, has been working with 32 Queensland councils to date to build internal knowledge, capability and decision-making frameworks to respond to the impacts of climate change.

$5.6 million for the Queensland Climate Change Response including an additional $1.25 million (BP4, p.49) has been allocated to the Q CRC to make this successful climate change program available to all Queensland councils. 

  1. Qld Local Government Coastal Hazard Adaption Program (QCoast2100)

The highly successful QCoast2100 program is a genuine partnership between the LGAQ and the State Government that helps councils tackle coastal hazards.

The program has been a pivotal force in mobilising councils to consider future coastal risks and plan for their mitigation, however, extra funding is needed to allow all 41 coastal councils to undertake their coastal hazard adaptation strategies.

The LGAQ’s request for additional funding was not met and may mean some councils are not able to commence or complete their respective strategies, particularly indigenous councils.

  1. Planning Innovation and Improvement

Local governments are at the forefront of planning for our local communities and balancing social, economic and environmental outcomes in our cities and regions.

Disappointingly, no additional funding has been allocated to the State Government's $4.5 million Innovation and Improvement Fund. The LGAQ's budget submission sought an additional $6 million over 3 years for future funding rounds.

The Innovation and Improvement Fund was established in 2017, in response to significant planning legislation reforms and to support councils deliver council led planning innovation and improvement projects. The LGAQ will continue to promote the success of the program and seek further funding.   

  1. Waste – Bulk Metal Removal in Discrete Indigenous Communities

Following continued advocacy by the LGAQ over the past decade, including inclusion in this year’s Budget Submission, $5 million in new funding (BP4, p.71) has been secured over two years to remove bulk-metal legacy waste including vehicle stockpiles from the communities within the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and Torres Shire Council areas.

  1. Container Refund Scheme

$1.5 million has been allocated to fund waste infrastructure to support participation in the CRS. Not all of the funding will be allocated as local government grants and only some councils may be eligible.

The successful introduction of an accessible CRS in Queensland will rely on the rollout of at least 307 container refund points. Until it becomes clear how many collection refund points will be operated by private sector industry, it is difficult to determine how much funding will need to be allocated to councils to assist with the infrastructure needed to establish these facilities.

  1. Weed and Feral Animal Funding

$5 million over 2 years for the expansion of existing weed and feral animal funding programs and expansion for drought declared areas. Councils spend almost $40 million a year on weed and feral animal control. Most money from the State Government so far has gone into cluster fencing in drought declared areas only.

There is a need for the State Government to make in-roads in non-drought declared areas, and leverage the significant investment already being made by councils.

  1. Reef 2050 Plan Implementation Seed Funding

Queensland’s Reef Councils invest more than $228 million a year in actions that directly benefit the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.  The LGAQ was seeking seed funding to leverage this existing council investment to deliver additional value to the Reef. 

While the LGAQ welcomes continued support to mitigate impacts, disappointingly, support for the local government sector has been overlooked.

  1. Flying Fox Roost Management

Disappointingly, the State Government have not responded to the call from local governments to assist in the funding of flying-fox roost management. Councils are spending more than $1.5 million dollars a year managing flying-fox roosts.

New South Wales has introduced a successful management funding program which could be adopted in Queensland. The LGAQ will continue to seek funding for councils for flying-fox roost management.

  1. Implement the Biosecurity Act 2014

Funding has not been pledged to assist councils to develop Biosecurity Plans as required under the Biosecurity Act. More training and guidance material around the impact of invasive plants and animals to ensure they comply with the Act, is required to ensure councils can fulfilling their enforcement role. The LGAQ will continue to lobby the department for funding a program to support councils.

  1. Rabbit Fencing

The total impact of rabbits on horticultural production in Australia is estimated to be more than $1 billion per year.

No money has been allocated in the budget towards the maintenance of the rabbit fence. Currently the Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit fence is wholly funded by 8 councils. In comparison, the Wild Dog Check Fence is funded half by local government and half by the Department of Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries.

Other key funding programs

Works for Queensland

Following successful advocacy by the LGAQ over successive budgets and in the 2017 state election campaign, a further $200 million in funding (BP4, p.70) has been confirmed under the Works for Queensland program. This takes total funding to $600 million over five years to support local governments in regional Queensland undertake job creating maintenance and minor infrastructure works.

Energy from waste

The Government is providing $5 million for Waste to Energy projects facilities, which turn urban waste into renewable energy and bioproducts. This funding will support the testing and establishment of small-scale innovative technologies suitable for deployment in regional areas promoting a wide range of energy products derived from waste materials.

The LGAQ supports this funding commitment in-principle, however seeks further details on how this funding will be administered and how local governments will benefit.

Waste levy

The LGAQ continues to seek 100% of the waste levy to be directed to waste management initiatives to achieve the target of zero waste to landfill target by 2028. Unfortunately, more than 30% of the new $70/tonne waste levy will be channelled into general revenue and other non-waste related environmental initiatives.

$100 million of revenue has been earmarked to encourage industry development in waste management and recycling, however no details are available at this stage.

$32 million is allocated to councils to offset direct cost impacts to households due to introduction of levy in first quarter of 2019. The LGAQ will continue to seek funding for energy from waste infrastructure to ensure long-term intergenerational benefits will be achieved from this levy.

Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme

The longstanding and vital partnership under the Roads and Transport Alliance, sees TIDS funding maintained at $70 million per annum through to 2021-22 (BP4, p92).

Other roads funding

Total Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program (QTRIP) funding has been increased by $700 million (2018-19 to 2021-22). Further to a 2017 LGAQ Annual Conference resolution regarding the need for investment in improved transport infrastructure at schools, the Palaszczuk Government will provide new funding of $20 million over 4 years for the establishment of School Transport Infrastructure Program (BP4, p.19).

While the announcement of this new funding is welcome, it should be invested in genuine local government infrastructure. The Palaszczuk Government has committed an additional $5 million for the Western Roads Upgrade Program (BP4, p. 129).

Building our Regions

The Government has delivered on its election commitment to invest an additional $70 million. (BP4, p 14)

Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program

The long-running LGGSP will continue at an annual allocation of $29 million.

Councillor Complaints system

$14 million has been allocated for the Office of the Independent Assessor, a key component of the new Councillor Complaints system which will provide the much-needed front-end filtering of complaints currently lacking.

Pensioner rebates

The Government will continue to fund the Pensioner Rate Subsidy Scheme at $53.6 million. The Scheme offers a 20% subsidy (up to a maximum of $200 per annum) to lessen the impact of local government rates and charges on pensioners.

Public library collections services

The Government will invest $24.9 million in public library collections and services and work with public libraries to implement programs and activities to increase Queensland’s digital literacy skills.

Skills and training

The successful Skilling Queenslanders for Work program has been extended with funds increased by $180 million. Councils benefit from this program through direct employment of trainees, apprenticeships as well as indirectly through the community projects completed by many of the participating community groups.

Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities

The Government has made an allocation of $2.5 million to implement and administer the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act (BP4, p.81).

Regional Tourism Infrastructure and Experience Development Program

Additional funding of $46 million to grow tourism by developing new and improved tourism experiences and develop tourism industry capability, including outback tourism. This funding forms part of the Growing Tourism, Growing Tourism Jobs initiative, which also includes as Attracting Tourism Fund of $48.6 million to attract new and international routes and cruise ships to Queensland. The total Growing Tourism initiative is $94.6 million (BP4, p.60).

Trade and Investment - continued funding for TIQ Strategy

The Queensland Government’s Advancing Trade and Investment – Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017-2022 included $35 million for 22 new initiatives including the implementation of local government training and a dedicated local government mentor.

Housing

The 2018-19 Budget delivers $239 million to improve housing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders. This includes $10.4 million for activities to support private home ownership in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. $124.2 million (includes $42.8 million from expiring NPRH program) for social housing in discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Delivery of social housing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities may need to be amended in recognition of the end of the National Partnership on Remote Housing funding, pending further negotiations with the Australian Government. (BP3, p.60-61)

Environmental Health

Almost $1 million for Indigenous infrastructure projects which aim to improve environmental health conditions for people living in major communities in Indigenous council areas. (BP3, p.73)

Water, waste in discrete Indigenous council areas

$50 million for the Indigenous Councils Critical Infrastructure Program for water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure in Indigenous communities and to develop options for a long-term infrastructure program in Indigenous communities including the role of Indigenous councils. (BP3, p.73)
 

For more information, please contact:

Craig Johnstone
Media Executive
0487 007 870

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006


 

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