Weekly Speak CEO Column
Looking ahead to Budget 2020
The 2019 Queensland Budget was never going to set the world on fire. The economic outlook is just too uncertain to pursue adventurous policy and the Palaszczuk Government is dealing with a fiscal landscape where hollow logs of cash simply do not exist.
But despite the criticism of the Budget by some sections of the community and the media, from a local government point of view the Government has kept a lot of its promises not to wind back existing programs, with some extra measures that, albeit small, are all good for the sector.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill described it as a “steak and potatoes” Budget and that is as astute a description as I can think of.
As I said on the day the Budget was delivered, the Government continues to support vital programs like Works for Queensland, the Queensland Water Regional Alliances program (QWRAP), the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme, the Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program, the Coastal Hazard Adaptation program (QCoast2100) and funding for disposing of metal waste in remote indigenous communities.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad certainly put regional Queensland at the centre of her pitch _ she made mention of the regions in some form or another 37 times when she delivered the Budget to Parliament on Tuesday. The continued commitment to the programs I mentioned above shows this is no idle boast.
There were also things like the $1 million put up to help develop the management of waste data _ an area that has been neglected in Queensland. This is likely to ensure councils get on a path to where they can reap the benefits of having reliable information on what sort of waste they are handling and how much, and whether it can be managed better.
Of course, that is not to say local government is entirely happy with the way the Government is addressing the issues that matter to councils.
We wanted _ but didn’t get _ a sharper focus on the details of the Government’s waste strategy and a commitment to devote more funds for water and wastewater infrastructure across regional Queensland. This last issue is one that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and the State must step up between now and the October 2020 election or face an even bigger water infrastructure crisis in future years.
Indeed, before the ink was even dry on this year’s Budget papers, the LGAQ had cast its mind forward to the 2020 State Budget which, of course, will be heavily influenced by the state election in October. Rest assured we have listened to what our members want and will have a reasonable but ambitious 10 Point State Election Policy Plan ready to go. We always aim to be first in the queue at the Treasurers door.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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