By LGAQ President Mark Jamieson
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to make a deep impact on our daily lives. The pace of transmissions in Victoria and New South Wales and the closure of the state’s border to both of these states and the ACT reminds us that we must be vigilant in observing social distancing requirements and other public health directions in the interests of keeping our communities safe.
We know that in the current environment, elected representatives at all tiers of government are continually called on to make tough decisions. Not for one moment do I think any political leader enjoys having to do so, but the implications for our communities – the people whom we serve – are too profound to contemplate if we fail to act on their behalf. That is why mayors across Queensland applauded the decision by the Premier to reinstate the hard border closure with New South Wales and the ACT from August 8.
The Premier has always said she will act on the best health advice and she is to be commended for taking this hard decision in the interests of the wellbeing of Queenslanders.The health and safety of our residents must always remain our number one priority. As representatives of our communities, we must continually reinforce the messages on how we can all work together to prevent transmissions and keep our communities safe. The LGAQ will continue to play its part in this regard, just as I know mayors and councillors across Queensland will do likewise. At the same time, it is incumbent on councils to have an eye to the future and carefully balance saving lives with saving livelihoods. The impact the pandemic has had on the economy is likely to be felt for years–and possibly, decades–to come.
Laying the important groundwork for economic recovery now is critical to managing the devastating impacts of COVID-19. This has been a key focus for the LGAQ since early March, with the Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities, which will see every council across Queensland roll out job-creating projects, thanks to an injection of state and federal funding to help stimulate local economies.
As a result of these efforts, shovel-ready projects are now in motion. In Barcoo, a new shade structure and disability chairlift will mean residents can use the aquatic facility year-round and better enable disabled patrons to use the facility. In Redlands, the development of a Redlands Coast Eastern Hinterland experience will provide a new tourist experience with 20km of multi-use trails, mountain biking tracks and visitor infrastructure. In Wujal Wujal, the construction of a splash park will mean children no longer have to risk swimming with crocodiles in the Bloomfield River in order to keep cool.
These are just a handful of the projects that will underpin a locally led recovery and create local jobs. It is thanks to strong collaboration between local, state and Federal governments that the Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities will be a lasting post-COVID-19 legacy.
As the Queensland Election approaches, it is important that we continue to build on the momentum we have gained with the Battleplan. In our recently released Advocacy Action Plan, built on endorsed member policy and motions from our Annual Conference, the LGAQ has identified the key priorities the Association will continue to advocate for in relation to employment, regional economies, the environment and First Nations councils.
Our LGAQ Advocacy Action Plan highlights post COVID-19 recovery measures, including sustaining local jobs and local regions, and advocates for continued support for the Battleplan over four years so it can deliver around 14,000 jobs. The LGAQ is also advocating for ongoing support for the Building our Regions program–a program that is vital to diversifying regional economies. Already this program has created more than 2760 jobs across 264 projects and generated an additional $538 million worth of investment. The task ahead for us as elected members will continue to be challenging. We can however, take heart in the story of local government. Ours is the level of government that delivers a wide array of services that directly impact on the daily wellbeing and prosperity of its constituents. We do so without the substantial revenue-raising capability of the state and federal governments. But we do so out of an ingrained commitment to helping our communities and advancing their interests. It’s a great story to be part of and it will strengthen us and guide us in the times ahead.