Weekly Speak CEO Column
Guaranteeing rural towns the most basic commodity: water
This week’s drought funding announcement from the Federal Government came as heartening news to communities across Queensland.
During drought, the flow-on effect to the whole community is palpable - and this announcement is a genuine attempt to ease the suffering this historic drought is causing.
The $1 billion in concessional loans the Federal Government is making available for small businesses is a clear sign the Government has understood the true, and wide effect of drought.
I was also pleased to see $138.9 million supplement in Roads to Recovery funding and the quarantining of the next $200 million round of the Building Better Regions Fund. Both of these programs will be important in helping communities manage and recover.
What hasn’t shifted however - is our focus on securing water supply for bush towns.
Last weekend, the LGAQ fired the first shot in its campaign to secure a one-off $500m infrastructure package.
We were able to get a decent story up in a two-page feature in the Sunday Mail - and going forward - it will be a key issue in the lead up to the 2020-21 state budget and October 2020 state election.
Sunday was just a start.
It was only three weeks ago that your 2019 Annual Conference voted unanimously to support the $500m bid. The city slickers backed the bush boys and girls - on what is an inalienable right.
The campaign will focus on that basic human right to a reliable, safe potable water supply for every country town. It will feature the human face of the rural water infrastructure cliff crisis; mums and dads, kids, local business owners and rural firefighters.
Yes, we have oodles of stats and engineering reports - but the human factor is the key.
We have to tell the story again and again - and we will.
Common sense tells you that you need safe, reliable water on-tap to drink, wash and fight fires. Sadly, for an increasing number of Queensland bush towns, that is no longer true, and it’s getting worse quickly.
We don’t have ten years to get this right, it’s here right now.
Of course, we won’t just have our hand out. After consulting with our rural members over the next five months the LGAQ will have a supporting plan for the half a billion dollar ask of the State Government.
An Options Paper will go to the December Policy Executive meeting to be followed by a Discussion Paper sent to all members before Xmas, with a final decision at the Policy Executive April 2020 meeting.
Everyone will get their say and there won’t be an unseemly rush.
Finally - What a great story on Tuesday- the Gympie Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch’s horse Vow and Declare won the Melbourne Cup. Unbelievable. Better still, it’s the first horse Bob has ever owned, and the majority of owners come from Gympie and Noosa. Congratulations Bob.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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