The Local Government Association of Queensland has highlighted the need to revive and refresh a formal agreement with the State Government to ensure councils were properly included in major infrastructure planning.
Appearing before a public hearing for the Building Queensland Bill 2015 on Monday, the LGAQ’s general manager of Advocacy, Greg Hoffman, outlined concerns surrounding State Government agencies’ “ad hoc” interaction with councils when implementing projects.
He said the issue was of vital importance to local government, which owned almost $90 billion worth of critical public infrastructure across Queensland in 2013-14.
“One of the significant, dare I say, aggravations for local government in its dealings with State Government is how the State, in the planning for and development of its own infrastructure, has a very inconsistent approach to its interface with local governments,” Mr Hoffman told Parliament’s Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee.
“The issues are around hospitals and schools, probably, as the largest infrastructure pieces that can impact.
“Of course, there are bigger projects.
“But where the on-site and off-site implications of what the State is doing in terms of its own infrastructure impacts on local infrastructure, then we are very keen to see an improved approach to how that interaction occurs.”
Mr Hoffman said a memorandum of agreement was established between the LGAQ and the Borbidge Government in 1997 to improve the working relationship between state and local authorities during the planning and roll-out of infrastructure projects.”
But the agreement had since lost its impetus because of changing governments and needed to be updated to ensure the impact on councils was reasonable, particularly in regards to financial arrangements, he said.
“It is relevant in that it does identify what councils are expected to do and what they can reasonably do and how there is a cost apportionment,” Mr Hoffman said.
“It basically talks about how certain things will be paid for by the state, certain things will be done by local government and where there is a crossover there is a 50-50 cost-sharing arrangement agreed upon.
“Of course, we would argue that perhaps that cost sharing should be a little more in favour of local government than it is at 50-50, but in the absence of a reference point it is valuable in the debate as to what is fair and reasonable.”
Mr Hoffman told the committee the LGAQ fully supported the creation of Building Queensland for the provision of independent advice to the State Government on infrastructure matters.
“The objective and transparent review of the merits of infrastructure projects should be an essential component of every infrastructure program and the LGAQ welcomes the state’s commitment to a robust assessment of its infrastructure proposals,” he said.